Essential Tenets for Maintaining our Common Good

Essential TENETS:

For Maintaining Our Common Good

By Alan Page, with background information from William Mitchell, and Ellen Brown


The "common good" is the collection of what no one person owns, but which all people depend upon for life. A simple example is the air we breathe. No one owns it but we would all perish without it. Now the "common good" is being threatened by many different human activities and policies. Some of these include:

  • The evolving climate crisis that will affect us all. Just a shift of a few degrees in the global temperature could deliver a fatal blow to the "common good" by changing what is now a benign climate into a hostile one that can no longer sustain "life as we know it".

  • The periodic business cycle causes many dislocations that are unnecessary but unavoidable given the current banking system.

  • Less commonly known and generally off the table is the PRIVATE currency and credit formation function and the ramifications of this prime control system. The implications for all other functions are very poorly understood, and will be a major consideration of the TENETS.

This compound crisis must be dealt with as if it were a life and death matter, IT IS.

This document provides some guidance for how to enable humanity to act responsibly in a coordinated fashion without deprivation of anyone’s rights. An attempt is made to recognize the sources of control and motivation that exist and how to enable effective response as if our lives depended on it.

Societies organize around the need for something or someone to do for the whole those things which can not be done individually. The broadest base for this power is that which is sovereign and it has abilities to do special things:

  1. provide for the public purpose – in the past this consisted mainly of maintaining acceptable levels of employment,

  2. provide for the public defense,

  3. enable the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure,

  4. provide for public education,

  5. maintain a set of laws that form the base of all conduct,

  6. provide a medium of exchange for the clearance of all commerce.

Depending on the base of the sovereign power various items will take on more or less importance and consideration by the sovereign entity.

The various levels of sovereignty go from the king or ultimate sovereign of a region, to the state or regional level, then to the county, community, family, and ultimately down to the individual (at this time it appears that this view of sovereignty may be misconstrued for several reasons and that those who should be responsible for the Common Good have been criminally negligent in their stewardship). The position taken here is that the individual is (in a democracy) the smallest unit of sovereignty / responsibility and the most important source of legitimacy for the highest level of sovereignty. Also that in dealing with massive problems the individual must be fully engaged both to validate the goals of the sovereign and to facilitate the most effective response to an evolving crisis of global proportions. Thus it will be most effective if everyone is motivated to create the same favorable outcome. If policies and regulations established by the highest sovereign power destabilize or divert individuals from their primary job it may be very difficult to do anything well or in a coordinated way. These tenets are offered as a means for everyone to understand the criteria upon which the current situation could or possibly should be judged.

Tenets:.." a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true". Here these tenets are more propositions that are outside of the common understanding because of a concerted program of misinformation has been carried out by those with the most to gain from sowing confusion.

1) Solvency: Today the penultimate sovereign power is never insolvent unless it/they want(s) to be. In a fiat money system (a currency which is based on the full faith and credit of the region rather than some limited source of value such as gold or silver), the sovereign power can issue currency in whatever manner it chooses. There can be many reasons why a sovereign power might seek to appear insolvent, but these reasons are likely to subvert the best outcomes of sovereignty for the populace and the biosphere. The current structure of currency creation has disbursed this very special power to chartered banks. It may be possible for smaller units of government and financial power to have some degree of sovereignty. However, the true power base resides in the entity that sets the regulations upon which all other subordinate currency creating venues must adhere.

2) The Public Purpose: A sovereign power has the duty to promote the public purpose, which must now include the maintenance of the Common Good. This has been minimally described economically as maintaining full employment at levels equal to the capability of the individual. However, the understanding of the common-good extends this duty to encompass the maintenance of all life support systems in the region and to work to ensure that other sovereign powers and the occupants of the region controlled by them (however tenuously) are not subverting global life support as well. This was not an issue when there were few people in comparison with the capacity of the biosphere to balance all insults from various quarters. However, humanity has passed such a level of population and now is a dominant sink for much of the resources and energy available to occupants of this planet. This duty may not extend to the point of geological/climate-engineering of the planet to support only human life or to subvert natural cycles. However, it probably does extend to minimize the deleterious effects of humanity.

3) Medium of Exchange: The creation and maintenance of a medium of exchange (that all within the territory of the sovereign power trust and understand) is one of the major tools that a sovereign power has to accomplish the duties mentioned above. The fact that insolvency and the fulfillment of the duties in 2) above can be in conflict should alert one to the need for the sovereign power to act to balance many things so that the value of the medium of exchange maintains a fair degree of stability and functions in many different sectors with equal validity.

3a) Control of Inflation: A corollary of this statement is that an excess of currency in circulation may occur from time to time. The major means a sovereign power has at its disposal for reducing the amount of funds in circulation is the power to tax those sectors of the economy where these superabundant quantities of currency collect. The same distortions that may cause a sovereign power to choose to appear insolvent can be used to modify the mode of taxation and misdirect the tax from those holding excess currency to sectors much less able to pay the tax.

3b) Sovereign Taxation: Taxation by a sovereign power does not pay bills since it is never insolvent. Any mention of taxation for balancing a budget is a distortion of reality and should be avoided.

4) Non-sovereign entities: Non-sovereign entities (non-bank-owning states, communities, families) must function within budgetary limits as predicted from past or known receipts. There may be several sources of funds: State taxes, sovereign payments either to the populace, which then provide the liquidity for payment of taxes, or payments for infrastructure and services that are common throughout the region. When these payments from the sovereign provide services which are used by all or which, like education, provide a base for development of skills for local maintenance of all systems, the payments also provide an immediate source of liquidity in the form of wages to those employed and a means to generate future wealth by allowing greater efficiency or more effective ways for doing something or maintaining a base needed for future production.

5) Basic Duty: Citizens have a new duty, to each make the best environmental decisions throughout their life. To do this they each must have access to the personal resources needed to cover the cost of these decisions. It is therefore the duty of sovereign powers everywhere to enable such decisions in the most practical manner. Since this duty is universal and a sovereign power is never insolvent it would be appropriate for a sovereign power to employ each one to do their job in a workmanlike manner. This would also reduce the need for there to be excessive differences in compensation for different jobs since the highest and most universal job would be to do no harm. Many more people would be able to choose occupations and residence based on real choices rather than for monetary reasons.

6) Strategic funding: Strategic and very long term activities must have funding that fits the need of the specific sector and the funds so allocated should never become a source of value for speculation. The prevention of speculation is needed to eliminate inflation. For this reason it is likely that there should be a second more local currency that has limited convertibility or no convertibility to currency that may cross borders and become subject to manipulation by unscrupulous persons, organizations or powers. Since it is a given that any attempt at regulation is a source of validation of an activity, it is likely that attempted action like conversion of an non-convertible currency or speculation in the value of that currency would be cause for deportation or worse.

Detailed Discussions of Important Parts of Tenets:

Appearance of insolvency

Insolvency can be used as a vehicle for control of citizens and others within the control of a sovereign power. As long as the appearance of insolvency is not successfully challenged there will be no resolution of matters requiring expenditures by the sovereign. If there are special deals made between sectors of the population or regions the apparent insolvency can be used to justify this inequality.


Those who have facilitated the organization and maintenance of a sovereign power are citizens of the region over which the sovereign has control. The designation of ‘citizen’ incorporates the idea that the power of the sovereign flows from the willingness of the citizen to be bound by the dictates of the governing body. Citizens have the age old duty of providing guidance to the sovereign by providing their consent to be governed. Those who no longer participate in the provision of guidance eventually will loose any ability to control the reach of the sovereign. There is always a range of acceptable control that each citizen must vigilantly define and try to balance whether to accept that control or to resist its application. There are various remedies to each citizen regarding how vigorously to demonstrate their position.

Climate crisis

A crisis is a major problem that must be dealt with before anything else can continue. We now face an unrecognized climate crisis. This unfolding series of events began as an insult to the climate maintenance system of the planet Earth by the increasing human population learning to do things that eclipsed those that all biological populations have always done. The global consequences of this success will spiral out of control as dormant sources of other climate modifying agents are released and add to forces that the climate maintenance system will be unable to balance. This crisis has been embryonic for a century or more. Recent changes have set the stage for several climate forcing agents to double their effect each decade. A particularly powerful source of climate instability is the release of methane gas from sources that were stable as long as the polar temperatures remained cold enough. Recent polar and deep sea warming caused by human release of stored carbon reserves as carbon dioxide is now at a stage where without much further warming the release of methane from deep water and permafrost sources will enter a positive feed back phase to become a major driver of climate forcing. Once this happens there will be little that humanity can do to reduce the rate of solar energy retention within the biosphere.

Common Good

Our “common good”, the things shared in common, is something that no one owns, but which all people depend upon for “life as we know it”. The definition of our “common good” must now be expanded to include the stabilization of the global climate maintenance system because without that powerful natural function maintaining earth’s surface temperature within a small range life as we know it will no longer be possible. All terrestrial life depends upon the presence of things we all share, and humans have particular special aspects that affect how they can function: a benign climate where life can thrive, clean water and air, minimal pollution of all aspects of life support, an informed and cooperative populous, educational opportunities that recognize the potential of each one, the personal and collective resources for each one to make good environmental decisions throughout their life, an infrastructure that is sustainable, and a system of laws that are understood and fairly applied for all.

Common Good Experiences

The increased urbanization of the human population and the increasing dependence on money as a source of status may eliminate the experience of where the basis of life really lies. Just as an air conditioner removes the individual from the outdoor air quality, the fully entertained individual is no longer engaged enough to recognize disruption of climate cycles. Once the full breadth of what is common to all has been described, the next step is to ensure that there is a universal acceptance of how one needs to work to fully comprehend what is happening to these common necessities.

Creation and maintenance of a medium of exchange

Any medium of exchange is really there to lubricate a series of transactions so that anyone can participate in a number of transactions without having to carry enough barter items with them to get each separate transaction to come out even. The function of creation of these exchange lubricants is a social and legal process that should be open for review. Such items are a reflection of the full faith and credit of the populous of the region served.


When there is more money in circulation than is needed to pay for the production of all possible goods by the existing labor force and capital equipment, the excess liquidity may cause prices of everything to rise since no more of it can be immediately produced.

Infrastructure and services

Basic facilities that are used by all provide the framework for the efficiency of a region. These facilities are generally publicly owned and are not expected to generate an income for any particular group since they are used by everyone. Similarly basic services are frequently provided free or at cost to all users. Education has come to be expected to be provided to children as a public service. The decision about how to fund these facilities and services defines the basic quality of a region.

New duty

The recognition of there being a potential or existing climate crisis suggests that there must be another dimension to human activity on EARTH. A crisis is something with such dire consequences that all other activity must be subordinated to the effective removal of the crisis or threat. (As of 2016 the destabilization of methane deposits in the Arctic is happening at such a rapid rate that life as we know it may cease to be possible without “special life support systems”.) If one is being chased by a bear it is of little consequence whether dinner is going to be ready on time. Just so today if the climate crisis is not addressed in a timely manner no other action will matter because life as we know it will no longer be possible. It does not matter how much money or power or protection one has eventually the surface terrestrial life support systems will be eroded to the point of no return. Programs for short term (or long term) adaptation to terrestrial surface changes are pointless at this point, without a thorough mitigative response that is globally enabled.

Non-sovereign entities

For the purpose of this document, sovereignty involves at a minimum the ability to create currency at will. Those entities that do not have such capability are deemed not to have sovereignty over a region, though they may have powers that approach it in other regards.


Gambling is an addictive activity that frequently leads to instability in relationships. Speculation is a special kind of gambling that may involve large assets and when done in massive and calculated campaigns may create runaway inflation as was seen in pre WW2 Germany. While much of current life involves speculation it is not a viable component of a sustainable economy.

Sources of funds

Taxation is only a source of funds when there is no possibility for currency creation or when the level of currency in circulation is high enough that any further release of new credit will cause inflation. When a region has less than full employment there are many ways for a sovereign power to add funds to help non-sovereign entities pay for needed facilities and services. Structural constraints on funding by demanding payment of debt service as is now the case forces all activity within a region to focus on only that subset of opportunities that can yield a profit with interest. The debt based currency creation situation is an artificial condition specifically constructed for funneling currency to those in control of its creation.

Sovereign power

Various levels of sovereignty exist. The most universal expression of sovereignty is the power to tax and the exercise of ultimate property rights. The creation of the universal medium of exchange has been retained at the highest level of sovereignty. However, recently it has been corrupted by fraudulent assignment of this power to non-public entities. The founders of the USA felt that the people of the colonies must retain their sovereignty. The ultimate expression of personal sovereignty is the refusal to cooperate with those in power. The sovereign power in much of the developed world has shifted from individuals to centers of wealth. This has occurred through a well orchestrated program of entertainment and misinformation. The failure to demand accountability of representatives is a sure recipe for loss of control by the ones that make that choice.

Sovereign Duty

The traditional understanding of the duty of a sovereign power was to promote the public purpose. Today this duty must also include the maintenance of the Common Good. The ubiquitous nature of all things held in common suggest that the best way to maintain the general health is to enable each citizen to guard this treasure rather than to exploit it for short term gains. Sovereign entities set the parameters for what is possible. Allowing a culture of rampant greed to exploit the common good without consequences will lead to the demise of life in that region. The current abrogation of the duty to maintain the common good by all who can get away with it is a pathologic condition.

Sovereign Power solvency

Solvency flows from the basic trust in the policies and finally the currency of the region. This has been termed the "full faith and credit" of the area under the sovereign’s control. If there is more currency in circulation than is required for full employment the stability of the currency is at risk. Until such point is reached the solvency of the sovereign is under immediate political control unless the function of currency creation has been given away as is the case in the USA. As Jefferson has observed the determination of whom or what is sovereign hinges on this issue.

Strategic and very long term activities

There are many kinds of activities that take very long times to develop the full component of desired service or capacity of the sector. Growth of a college is such a project as is the development of a major new energy technology or infrastructure system. There are environmental projects that are needed because humanity has displaced the normal processes which never have normal cash outcomes. Then there are mid and long term biological based enterprises which do not generate any cash flow until the growth of the crop is mature.

Many of these projects are now funded by sovereign grants, but situations where there are inputs needed regularly into the future are very hard to fund. The increasing population of humans increases the likelihood that there will be more of these kinds of situations that go under funded or are never tried. Maintenance of land and long term crops are special cases where the sustenance and material well being of all life within a region is dependent on the quality of decisions by owners of extractive processes. If it is difficult or impossible for such entities to receive or develop funding especially for the maintenance practices, the long term stability of the region will be in doubt. Such short term thinking will eventually reduce the capacity of the full faith and credit of the region. In normal situations such as forestry and agriculture there are so many regular, viable, and necessary practices that the confinement of funding possibilities to grants rather than a strategic public funding source will result in a large number of unfunded practices. The lack of commitment to funding normal maintenance will discourage practitioners and overtime reduce the population that is available to do that work. Recent accidents in profit based industries have shown how rampant the practice of under-funding of maintenance can become even in a heavily regulated environment. Where long term effects pose less life threatening situations it is even more likely that important maintenance will be overlooked in cash limited situations. Since this maintenance is essential for the stability of the carrying capacity of the region, design of funding systems that are inflexible and unresponsive to opportunities does not limit inflation rather such design guarantees that over time the productivity of labor and capital will decrease.

Taxation by a sovereign power

It is easy for a sovereign power to hide behind the mantra that taxes provide the revenue streams to pay for services. But as discussed in the solvency section there is a broad range where this is not the case. The possibility that there are advantages to those in power to keep up this appearance may in the long run be self defeating. This is true particularly because excess funds collect where there have been effective decisions regarding the use of funds in the past. If the personal wealth of an owner of production can become a source of pride and power, as it now appears to be universally, then those who are so situated have a strong motivation to deflect efforts by the sovereign to recover this excess currency. If taxation of the wealthy gets refocused to less powerful sectors it will not do its job and will ultimately undermine the stability of the region. The design of a policy base that can distinguish between high discretionary income and effective employment of resources is essential. Removal of funding capability as a source of pride and power can be a crucial part of the stability of our common good.

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Subpages (1): Forest Protection Issues