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The Simple Society's Alliance for Human Empowerment

The Simple Society's Alliance for Human Empowerment is a collaboration between individuals and organizations dedicated to enabling every person to achieve their highest level of wellness, personal potential, equity, and justice. Members of the Alliance will make possible a massive outreach campaign designed to show the public, and our leaders, how to actually solve our most serious social problems. The Alliance holds free, monthly public policy forums conducted by email.

Simple Solutions, their email newsletter, features information about the simpler solutions that can be applied to complex social problems. Simple Solutions publishes information about the cures we're advocating, how they apply in your life, unique ideas from other sources, the generation of grass-roots wisdom, and practical suggestions for creating change. A focus on human empowerment addresses issues like assured shelter, nutrition, useful work, health, public safety, education, community and civility.

The following is excerpted from the October 18, 2006 issue of Simple Solutions, an e-newsletter edited by John Watkins, founder of The Simple Society.


Editor's note: Over the nearly fourteen years that The Simple Society has been in existence, it has published much about its views on how best to improve the life of people everywhere.

In this issue, we try to pull together some of the disparate pieces to provide a fresh overview.

INTRODUCTION: Have you ever wondered why so many social problems keep getting worse even though we devote so much time, treasure, and human talent to their solution? Have you ever wondered why so many people have dreams they never achieve? Have you ever worried about why so many people have stopped dreaming? Have you despaired that so many good people now feel it's impossible to improve the system? I have!

In my opinion, our attempts to solve specific problems have resulted in overly complex, disjointed, fragmented programs that focus so tightly on specific problems that they lose sight of the holistic needs of specific humans, and their relationship to the larger society.

With such narrow vision, all our good intentions are doomed to failure. All those separate programs compete for treasure and talent, too much of which must then be devoted to the needs of the "system," and not the needs of the individual, and none of which can be devoted to solving needs outside the scope of the program, even if those needs are more urgent. Because of the competition for talent and treasure, the resources often run out too soon. Then, all you can do is apply band-aids, not effect a cure.

In my opinion, the answer lies in a broader, holistic vision of human relationship and potential. Such a vision makes it possible to conceive a system so much simpler that its very simplicity empowers individuals and, indeed, the entire society.

IT'S IMPERATIVE AND IT'S POSSIBLE to change our system and our culture to truly solve our human problems and, even more important, to restore our ability to dream.

That's why I founded The Simple Society. That's why The Society founded The Alliance for Human Empowerment to spread the message of humanity, simplicity, and excellence. Won¹t it feel good to be part of that? Join the Alliance. We're growing stronger everyday.


People form relationships to facilitate the pursuit of their goals. The family is a relationship with a purpose. A contract is a relationship with a purpose. Businesses, cultures, social clubs, governments: all are relationships with purposes.

The Simple Society's mission is to articulate an ideal set of relationships that will make it possible to go well beyond mere survival and achieve maximum possible individual and community wellness.

We envision a society in which democracy, justice, community, and human potential are maximized! A society with laws and regulations so simple that anyone can understand how to live a successful life and be a good citizen.

To achieve it requires massive re-orientation and simplification of our major relationships.

I've been told often that our goal is Utopian, always with the implication that "utopian" is impractical because it's so difficult. Difficulty is not an excuse for inaction. It is not an excuse for failure to try. It is definitely not an excuse for accepting lesser goals.

Think of Utopia, then, as the place you'd like to be at the end of your journey, a place so nice you'll never want to leave.
To get there, you need a good road map, the motivation to take the first step, and the resolve to keep moving in the right direction. You'll never get there if you don't take that first step.

For most people, the real challenge is fear of the first step. Once they take it, fear falls away and the remaining steps usually become easier.

If you're willing to take that first step and combine your efforts and resources with others, maybe you can travel together faster than on foot – even at warp speed.

So, the larger mission of The Simple Society and The Alliance is to

  1. articulate the vision,
  2. provide a road map and traveling instructions,
  3. encourage more people to make the trip, and
  4. remove the roadblocks that slow the journey.

Can people like you and me make a difference? Absolutely!

Do you recognize names like Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King, Ralph Nader, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, Sergei Bryn, Ted Turner, Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Spock? They started with little more power than you or me.
Yet, they made an enormous difference. They started with an idea and the determination to change things.

As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

To provide the needed road map, we will develop and publish

  1. Model guidelines for operation of a human empowerment system.
  2. A model set of dramatically simplified laws and regulations.
  3. Model operating rules and procedures for a vastly simplified justice system
  4. A simplified model of governmental and political process.

The first model is our primary objective. It will provide a clear guide to a societal structure that will empower all people to be full, self-sufficient contributing members of society.

The other models are designed to assure public safety, safeguard our freedom, and remove most of the structural barriers to empowerment. Amazing simplification is possible and, with it, amazing reductions in the cost of living and major increases in personal freedom and creativity.


Unified system models offer a broad vision of the interlinking elements of human cooperation, eliminating program conflicts and fragmentation.

Fragmented programs all have administrative and coordinating costs, none of which help the people who should benefit from the programs. With a unified program, these costs disappear and more money is available for services.

There is also an overhead cost related to transferring money from place to place and level to level‹usually called shrinkage – a shorter path leaves more money for real services.

With fragmented programs, people fall in the cracks. Some get helped. Some get no help. Most get some help but not enough.
With a unified system, everyone gets as much help as they can productively use, from sources that are proved to be effective.

– Fragmented programs introduce delays as more and more decision- makers are involved and must reconcile differences of opinion.
– Delay may intensify a problem and even be life-threatening.
– Unified programs permit action as soon as a need presents itself.

With a unified program, service agencies have little or no fund-raising and case-finding costs so they can provide more service at a lower cost.

A unified program has the potential to be self-financing.

With a unified program, it is easier to encourage people to volunteer and to link volunteers with people who need help.
More services can be provided on a purely voluntary basis.

With a unified program, many problems will be detected before they require more intensive, more expensive services, avoiding a lot of human pain and suffering.

With a unified program, many family and community problems can be prevented, contributing to an atmosphere of peace and harmony.


The human empowerment model is a unified system that can replace dozens (perhaps hundreds) of fragmented programs now divided among treasury, health and human services, labor, interior, agriculture, housing and urban development, education, emergency management, veterans affairs, and the office of the attorney general.

The new system will probably be a government program but there are other possibilities. It will absorb many of the people employed in the present programs and give them a more positive and constructive way to help individuals.

In the system, you will have lifelong access to a personal empowerment guide. Overall, their job will be to help you develop your full potential as an individual and as a part of society. They will be your best friend but they will also represent society to be sure you are treating everyone else fairly.

The guides will work on three levels.

The first is early detection of dysfunctional behaviors and arrangement for appropriate intervention. Early intervention makes it possible to prevent child abuse, reduce domestic discord, treat drug addiction, etc.

The second level is to identify impairments to self-sufficiency and help you overcome those impairments. This requires effort on your part but gives you all the help you need. Most people will be beyond the first two levels.

Instead, they'll work to identify goals for contributing more to society. We cannot require a person to go beyond self sufficiency, but we can point the way. The role of the guide in this case will be to identify the potential for greater contribution, help an individual develop challenging career goals, encourage entrepreneurship if that's possible, and facilitate knowledge and skill acquisition. The guide will also encourage volunteerism, public and community service, and democratic participation.

One mechanism through which the guide will perform such magic is the ability to write compassionate loans. Instead of all the fragmented programs that now exist for giving people assistance, the empowerment loan does the job but goes well beyond emergency assistance. Whenever a person has an empowering need that exceeds their available assets, the money will be there and the terms of repayment will be as compassionate as necessary. Please note: this eliminates the need for any kind of insurance and because it's a loan which eventually requires repayment, there is little possibility for fraud. Note also that the loans can be used for basics such as food and rent, or for higher goals such as education, down payments on housing, capital for business startups.

The empowerment guides and the network of empowerment guides will usually be able to tailor assistance for people according to their needs. Never again will a person be without help because they don't know where to go. Best of all, empowerment guides will be able to arrange truly voluntary and collaborative activity: voluntary tutoring and mentoring for such things as parenting, nutrition, budgeting, language skills, job skills, home maintenance, adaptive behaviors, respite care, communication and interpersonal skill; collaborative arrangements for child care, job sharing, transportation, living arrangements, even entrepreneurship.

The empowerment guides will refer you to voluntary agencies and fee-for-service providers based on their knowledge of which agencies are effective and which are not. The voluntary agencies will be able to concentrate on providing effective and efficient services because they will no longer have to worry about funding.

If the loans reach oppressive levels because of personal adversity, the system includes a simple debt remission plan– not much different than what is being recommended for third world countries–operated by a public trust like the United Way. The debt will be reduced using voluntary funds. No one will be hurt by your inability to pay. Default on debt hurts other people and, downstream, adds to the cost of living. It hurts everybody. Why hurt anybody?

Adoption of this system will almost immediately solve many problems: hunger and homelessness, access to healthcare, early detection of dysfunctional behavior, inadequate education, job shortages, disaster relief, even issues of discrimination. People in jobs now devoted to reducing these problems will be absorbed by the human empowerment system and by reductions in the work week. Because of direct payment, human service providers won't need to beg for donations or search for grants. There will be more money available to support the arts, social advocacy, recreational services, medical research, and our churches.

Resource Link: www.simsoc.org


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