In an attempt to finalise our author participant for the UNDP event i contacted a few of the writers on our list. Cary Neeper (The Webs of Varok) got back to me to say that she is unable to attend the event, but would be interested in sharing her thoughts ‘from afar’.
Attached below is her detailed response, including some questions and provocations to the wider topic covered by the Next Gen Gov initial blog post (available here)
I felt it was useful to share these thought with the group and to see if there’s a place for considering these ideas within the wider project.
Thank you for your very interesting offer to speak at the “future of
governance” seminar for the UN Development Programme in Istanbul this
November 28-30. I wish I could make the trip, but I’ll have to decline
for reasons of health and the limitations of age. However, I am very
interested in working with you and hope my ideas, writings, sources of
information and suggestions can be helpful.
I believe I can be most useful by contributing ideas and material online
and via email and as your needs dictate. I have read your comprehensive
plan, checked out the web sites and applaud your excellent work in
exploring what could be critical in re-treading and reshaping world
All best wishes for a great project!
Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper
At the end of your plan you asked “What is missing?” A few essentials
came to mind, and I’ll explore these here so you can make use of them
however you see fit.
- I have studied the science of complexity since it turned physicists
blue a few decades ago, and I feel that it needs to be understood as it
applies to human interactions and our impacts on Earth and all its life
forms. The necessity to deal with the unpredictable nature of complex
systems is critical in designing patterns of governance. Also of prime
importance is recognizing that complex systems at all levels can only be
controlled or changed by dealing with the basic rules that govern
interactions of the players, not by focusing on the system’s symptoms,
i.e. the observed problems generated by those interactions. Too often
our habit is to address fixing only the symptoms, when the basic rules
that govern a complex system need to be discovered and changed.
- How should the experiments in governance deal with current disasters
and the fact that they are likely to continue as a result of global
warming, overuse of resources, and human overpopulation? Can Europe
provide models of how population levels can be held in check?
- How should governance address the current extremes in religious belief
and issues such as abortion, where morality is at stake: one side
believing sacred human life begins at fertilization and others believing
it is evil to bring any unwanted child into a life of such suffering.
The current divide in this country is mind-boggling.
- Is all governance simply regulation? How else can we identify and
protect the commons from deterioration and overuse–the commons being
clean air and water, healthy land and oceans, sources of food,
transportation and places to live? Somehow the commons distribution
needs to be balanced fairly.
- How do we deal with politics that refuses to consider options beyond
their single focus on “no regulation” on business (as in the U.S.now) or
on winning “uber alles” in spite of rational evidence? Is Earth on a
path like Easter Island, where ten communities competed for resources
until they were all used up. The four-way stop intersection near our
home is a great example of simple governance by taking turns–first one
car goes first or the one on the right goes first. Humans can do such
At your Istanbul meeting or elsewhere, feel free to use any of these
ideas or any of the material (including basic complexity information) on
my website http://caryneeper.com and the other sites listed under my
email signature. My books’ information is on http://archivesofvarok.com.
I would also recommend looking at Herman Daly’s website
http://steadystate.org. They are putting out essays detailing that
economic theory, which has developed over all these years since I was
inspired to write a fictional portrayal of what the steady state
involves–The Archives of Varok. The fourth book on overpopulation
(coming out in 2019) is the series’ historical novel. The books are not
real science fiction–the “ellls and varoks” are my Oz characters, handy
for bouncing off ideas of human identity and steady state economics. I
am a science realist–writing for astronaut.com on how large the
universe is “so we had better take care of planet Earth.” We’re not
going anywhere, so we need to face up to the carbon challenge and
prepare for the big hits already coming. We saw it coming in the 1980’s,
but determined to try and be positive. My husband’s latest blogs (parts
1-7) might also be of interest.
Blog 136. American Angst Part 4 of 7: Sliding into Fascism | Don Neeper's Place
In my blog on Goodreads Cary Neeper's Blog: Reviewing World-changing Nonfiction
I have been doing short book reviews of nonfiction that deals with
today’s economic wierdness here in the U.S. and other books worth
reading for those concerned about the future. Please let me know if I
can be of help in any other way-- and sincere thanks for the invitation.
I’ll be tracking your web sites.
Below I am providing the steady state laundry list from the Nautilus
award winner The Webs of Varok. It can stand in for my presence in
Istanbul if you like.
From The Webs of Varok: Appendix A. Conn’s Recommendations For Earth
- The most efficient thing to do is to cap energy use–lots of luck. Be
sure to cap off specific resources, based on known reserves. Be sure the
use of non-renewables does not exceed their waste. The no-brainer is to
be sure renewables are one-hundred percent regenerated before you use
- Population numbers should be stabilized–all of them, region by
region. Everyone gets to replace themselves. Of course, they can buy up
someone else’s replacement certificate, or sell theirs. Use incentives
to encourage replacement only. No nasty coercion allowed. Education,
women’s rights, and birth control help–a lot.
- Inequality leads to revolution, which usually doesn’t work unless
someone has a real plan–like letting workers determine wages and salary
differentials. No more than fifteen percent difference in income; that’s
enough for needed incentive. Employee business ownership and co-ops
help. Everyone, that’s every sentient being, gets a Citizen Income, an
automatic unconditional payment from the government, funded by
inheritance and luxury taxes or something more inventive.
- For goodness sake, stabilize the money supply. Encourage localization
with local currencies. Print just enough to run the global government,
which should be busy counting resources and not much else. Banks can
mediate loans but must keep one hundred percent reserves, I.e., loan
only what others have saved. Loans should require collateral–remember
that word? Banks could also stash jewels in rented safe deposit boxes,
but do little else.
- Forget the gross domestic product (GDP). Try Bhutan’s GPH or the
GPI±-something that measures well-being. Just don’t count the cost of
cleaning up someone’s nasty pollution as great economics. Separate the
ends like well-being from the means.
- To insure meaningful and full employment, shorten work times to
distribute jobs where needed and increase leisure and creative time. The
government, like the city council, might do some job guaranteeing in the
fields of education and medicine, or fixing bridges, but no subsidies
on polluters, please.
- Set prices, business revenue, to include all capital costs,
environmental and disposal or recycling costs. Think social benefit, not
profit. Tax away excess profits, income and harmful practices, like
intrusive advertising (junk mail).
- Localize. Localize. Localize all goods and services. Raise tariffs if
necessary to protect local business. Free trade is just another example
of “Winner Take All,” so keep money and labor at home. Institute a Tobin
Tax on exchange of currencies. Hire locals. Finance local businesses
locally. Quit shipping tasteless apples all over the world, and eat more
local kumquats. Share appliances. Cluster ventures that need a large
- Revise lifestyle ethics to emphasise “enough is enough,” cliche though
it is. You don’t need a new one, a prettier one, a shorter one, an
uglier cool one. Share appliances. Fix what’s broke and require
manufacturers to take responsibility for their products, all the way to
the junk or recycle heap–like some Europeans do. Spare parts businesses
will boom. And no producing gewgaws for gewgaws’ sake. Encourage art and
- Print this on your forehead: the economy is a sub-system of the
environment. It’s not the other way around. The human population is
already too big for Earth to absorb its wastes, much less produce new
dell phones for everyone. Everyone needs clean water to drink. Now!
Invent more new ways to explore how to stabilize, not grow, the economy.
Love and good luck, Conn*
*Conn’s recommendations are based in part on the economic theories of
Herman Daly and CASSE (Center for the Advancement of the Steady State