This is an addendum to my longer article on Universal Tithing. If you haven’t read it, please read it first, here!
Ok, so we mostly understand the primary benefits of Universal Tithing — it both creates a Stage 2 Positive Sum feedback loop and it changes the mindset of the givers (and receivers!) to one of abundance. However, there are other smaller advantages, which I’ll detail here.
Universal Tithing is, Well …Universal
One nice property of UT is that anyone can do it. (Really, anyone above Level 4/5.) This is powerful for a variety of reasons:
- Universality allows for virality, which is crucial to a paradigm shift. If you’re trying to spread something like “quit your job to begin coding in cryptocurrency”, not everyone will be able to do it. But many people in the developed world can UT. Once many people do it, then it will become embedded at the paradigm level. It is also possible to “apply” UT to any given situation/event. (e.g. To carbon offset the plane flights to your event.)
- Universality allows for a “synergistic satisfier”. A synergistic satisfier is something that, when you are trying to make decisions among 2+ people, satisfies everyone in the group. i.e. Instead of debating on what exactly we should do, we can instead just say “well, what if we both give?” We’re each happy if the other person gives more (even if it’s to something we don’t totally agree with, because we like the global emergent properties of how giving creates an abundant mindset). You can imagine this as cause-agnostic variant on moral trade, a variant on syncretic politics, or something that solves the aggregation problem in economics (much like how Cowen claims growth solves the aggregation problem in Stubborn Attachments).
Universal Tithing Focuses on Individual Responsibility
- Right now our information sensemaking systems are in disarray as a result of outrage-optimized distributed trust. i.e. We have infinite info at our fingertips and it’s difficult to determine who to trust and then what to do. Universal Tithing is a nice “solve” for that situation in that it begins to match our Circle of Influence to our Circle of Concern (CoI ~= CoC). Instead of being concerned/outraged about all the things all the time, we can say “you know what, I’m just going to do my best given my situation. I’m going to tithe myself, share that with others and hope that they will tithe too (and then hope for the positive emergent paradigm shift towards abundance).” i.e. As Stewart Brand would say: Create agency and unmake victimhood.
- In addition to matching our CoI ~= CoC, Universal Tithing forces people to live out some version of Kant’s Categorical Imperative
Universal Tithing Abstracts Taxes and Charity into “The Public Good” and Forces Individual Responsibility
This is the idea that I stated above when initially explaining UT: that Universal Tithing can be thought of as a self-imposed taxation with a norm-based (rather than law-based) enforcement mechanism.
For this reason, I like to imagine it as a synergistic satisfier between libertarians and socialists. They both are into the SharedGoal of “supporting the public good” but just disagree on the mechanism for getting there. UT scratches the libertarian ideal of “freedom of choice” with the socialist ideal of “redistribution”.
Right now there’s a bunch of discussion around income inequality, AOC’s 70% marginal tax rates (which, as a reminder, have been a historical norm), Elizabeth Warren’s 2% wealth tax, and Anand Giridharadas’ book, Winners Take All. However, many of the folks who are arguing for a higher tax rate aren’t tithing themselves. They should. Whether or not billionaires give to charity or get taxed by the government, we as individuals should tithe ourselves.
Universal Tithing Can Help Us Solve Other Emergent Problems
Because the “output” of UT is simply money, we have lots of flexibility in how its allocated. Above I emphasized spending the money on “More People Like Me is Good For Me” (i.e. UT’ing Level 5 folks to level up Level 1 folks). But we can also use UT money on other things. One of the clearest things we should use it for is to internalize our externalities. e.g. We can have all individuals carbon offset their emissions to become carbon neutral (for only $10/year!). If everyone does this, then we’ll have internalized this externality at a global scale. You can imagine this as “institutions participate in the market process, creating externalities”, while “individuals offset those externalities”. It’s much more difficult to form consensus to regulate market-based institutions to internalize their externalities than it is to individually offset all of the externalities. (1 decision maker vs. n)