Cliff Cobb explains that efforts to promote the idea of a shared Common Heritage and its assets have failed so far to gain a political constituency.
After a brief introduction that presents the historical background, by showing the philosophical precedents for a Common Heritage, Cobb discusses efforts by Alfred Andersen’s Tom Paine Institute and other groups to propagate the relevant principles. Cobb notes how Redefining Progress, a non-profit group that advocates alternative economic and environmental polices, did a book-length study of how to implement a tax system in California based entirely on resource and pollution fees, and the internal politics behind why it was never published. This story helps to explain the enormous political obstacles faced by any policy based on economic justice. Cobb believes that any movement should reframe the issue of how to share common assets using language broad enough that it can encompass intensely debated social issues such as abortion, health care, immigration, education, and even nonviolent methods of national defense. Building that coalition will require the development of a new language, just as political theorists in the 17th century created a language of “natural rights” in order to justify the growth of property rights.
Cliff Cobb’s full article can be found at http://www.thecommonssf.org/commons_literature.