Universal Commons

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= a proposal by the UC Project in Australia


"What the Universal Commons (UC) is proposing is a hybrid of private and common ownership that represents an entirely novel solution to the problems of owning, improving and preserving S&N Capital.

The first step is that the UC will claim ownership over all S&N Capital on behalf of all humanity, then make every living person a Member of the UC, issuing them with one indivisible and unsaleable share in the UC. This share instantiates everyone’s moral right to “own” their fraction of the world’s S&N Capital, and it will give them the right to receive a “dividend” from the use of S&N Capital by other individuals or businesses.

While some people are born into privilege and have greater capacity to make use of S&N Capital, and others are born into disadvantaged circumstances with less capacity to benefit from S&N Capital, it is entirely a matter of cosmic luck rather than merit. We believe that every living person has an equal right to share in the world’s S&N Capital regardless of the circumstances or location of their birth. After all, S&N Capital already resides in the commons, so it effectively belongs to all of humanity equally.

This realises the idea that each living person effectively owns one 7.5 billionth of all the S&N Capital in the world. So when another individual or business profits from the use of that S&N Capital, then a proportionate fraction of that profit ought to return to each living person equally. As described in the last post, the UC will then establish a specialised market in S&N Capital, the Universal Commons Exchange (UCX), which will enable individuals and businesses to effectively “lease” S&N Capital when they use it. The leasing fee may be very small, but in aggregate it should generate a significant amount of revenue. The way the market works will also give individuals and businesses an incentive to improve and preserve S&N Capital by rewarding them for improvements and penalising them if they degrade it.

The Universal Commons dividend then becomes a form of universal income for every living person on the planet. The income might start off very small, but over time we expect it to grow as more forms of S&N Capital are added to the UCX, and as more individuals and businesses begin to interact with it. If there is sufficient political will, governments might also encourage or require businesses to interact with the UCX, raising the leasing fees and the dividend even further. This novel solution represents the best of both private and common ownership. It means S&N Capital remains in the commons, as it should, but also gives individuals and businesses the incentives they would normally get from private ownership. It encourages them to exercise “prudence and personal responsibility” over its use.

Who owns the Earth? We can see that the simple answer is: we all do. The trick is finding a way to make that moral fact a market reality, to find a mechanism that means each of us can benefit from it, and also be confident “the Earth” will be improved for us and for future generations.

We believe the Universal Commons is that way. In fact, we believe the Universal Commons is the only way." (https://www.universalcommons.com/newsroom/who-owns-the-earth)

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