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Here's a question. Life expectancy in the US is 78 years. What's life expectancy in Spain? Remember, Spain, just forty years ago, was a dictatorship, wracked by civil war, the poor and sick man of Europe. Go ahead, guess.

It's 85 years. Now, life expectancy is currently falling in the US, and rising in Spain. Soon the gap will be a decade. What would you give for a decade more life? For yourself, your kids, your loves ones? What will you desperately cry to give, not just now, but on your deathbed? It's another way to ask: how are societies managed well? I'll give you the secret in a minute, by way of an example.

Today, in the USA, Congress is about to pass a "tax bill". Its jam-packed with strange things like "self-financing tax cuts" and "auto triggers". Strange because the rest of the world, which, like Spain, has surpassed the US, doesn't use them, need them, or even think about them: they aren't things at all. It's a tiny example of America having gone Soviet, trapped in a tightly closed, self-referential ideological bubble of failure, that's floating away into space. What are all these strange notions? The US has built a sprawling Rube Goldberg machine, sprocket carefully balanced against gear, mostly so that human possibility in exactly the wrong direction, backwards, not expanding, but receding.

But managing a society well only needs a single, simple lever. It's so simple, in fact, that, like using a playground seesaw, I need just one sentence to give you this secret. Take taxes, add a little debt - nothing too extreme, just as much as is sensible (we'll come back to that) - and invest it in public goods. As much as you can. It's alright to start small, because, like compound interest, soon, the trend itself will gain momentum. Year after year, just repeat this formula. Don't change it, alter it, interfere with it. Don't worry about it all, in fact. Just invest in, a little more, as the economy grows, public transport, education, healthcare, finance, and so on. Not so much so that it consumes the economy wholesale - but so much that people enjoy the basics of safe, secure, long, happy, creative, productive, fruitful lives, so they don't turn angry, sour, hopeless, fuelling extremism and demagoguery.

Soon enough, a virtuous circle of human possibility begins to unfold, if a society simply invests in itself, taking taxes, adding a little debt, to whatever extent is possible, even if the amounts are tiny, small, seeming inconsequential. Just repeating it, every year, causes possibility to expand which leaves more to be invested, which causes possibility to expand. Remember life expectancy growing in Spain, surpassing America, so much so that soon Spaniards will live a full decade longer than Americans? That's how it did.

I'll call that tiny principle the Great Lever of Human Possibility - because it's worked in every single society under the sun that has ever tried it, from Spain to Germany to France to Rwanda. And that it has worked so powerfully, simply, consistently, and predictably, even in war-torn and impoverished formerly military dictatorships like Spain, in just forty years, is perhaps the greatest unsung miracle in modern history.

Now. Is this "politics", as Americans suppose? Nope. It's empirical reality. It's just pragmatism, not some abstract maybe-should-could-would debate. The Great Lever is precisely how a society like Spain, a ruined and bedraggled dictatorship forty years ago, has come to surpass the USA. Politics is about our beliefs. But if our beliefs don't change, then we cannot learn, and that is precisely where America is now. The Great Lever of Human Possibility is the secret American intellectuals don't want to discuss - because, in those rare cases when their stunning lack of knowledge about the world allows them to even encounter it, their ideological rigidity simply prevents them from believing in empirical reality, just like Soviet intellectuals before them. So let's go into it a little more.

Societies should be run to maximize human possibility. Businesses should be run to maximize profit, preferably long-term, if we are smart. But the odd thing is this: it's much easier to run a society well than a business well. Why? Profit is a social construct, always fraught with imprecise choices. Should this be accounted for as a liability? Should this debt be counted as future income? And so on. We make choices when we make maximize artificial social constructs. But maximizing human possibility is much simpler. How long we live, how healthy we are, how safe and secure we feel, how much mobility we have, how much savings you have, whether you will retire - these are realities. They aren't fraught with any kind of definitional issues at all. You are dead the day that you die.

Hence, running a society well, today, is very simple. We have learned from human history, after millennia of struggle, pain, strife, the secret of prosperity - or at least the first little one. Yes, really. The Great Lever of Human Possibility is in use around the globe, from Africa to Asia to Europe, and that's why, for example, life expectancy, savings, and quality of life in general is rising, even in countries like Rwanda in Pakistan. Hence the world, understanding all this, has surpassed the USA. It isn't having foolish ideological debates about dead, failed ideas - it is just doing what works, learning from the pain of history, using the Great Lever of Human Possibility, investing taxes in public goods, adding a little debt, and watching human possibility skyrocket.

Now, what has the US been doing all that while? Well, it's been building these strange Rube Goldberg machines - but they have only one real purpose. Not to do any of the above. To disinvest in public goods, whether healthcare, education, transport, and so on, right down to the point where Americans now mostly don't have much. Nope, I'm not kidding. Seventy percent of Americans have less than $1000 in savings. The Rube Goldberg machines work. But they aren't a substitute for the Great Lever of Human Possibility.

Imagine for a moment that your kids fell gravely ill. I came along, and I said: I'll lend you the money for their treatment. At no cost, zero interest. As much as you'll ever need. Even more, in fact. Now, if you were smart, what would you do? Would you, for example, refuse to treat them at all, because that would send you into debt? Or would you take my money, pay for their treatment, invest a little in Apple shares maybe, and then pay me back sooner, using precisely those gains?

The former is what the USA has been doing. It refuses to invest in human possibility at all, to the degree that it's young, elderly, and frail, are now dying. The sensible thing to do is this. Interest rates are negative for the government. Take the money that's better than free, and use it to fix everything. Because everything's broken. Fix healthcare, fix transport, fix schools, fix a lack of decent media, and so on. The money's cheap because too much is in the hands of too few - so much, that they don't have any good place left to put it. It's screaming out to be put to good use: that's what negative interest rates mean.

Comment: America has been at war with the world for a very long time and it's demented leaders prefer spending the nations wealth on slaughtering innocent civilians in far away countries rather than investing it on public projects at home:

So the USA has created, really, the opposite of a Great Lever of Human Possibility. The Rube Goldberg machines? They're really Engines of Human Despair, Decline, and Ruin. That's all that these "self-financing tax cuts" and "auto triggers" and the rest of this foolish Soviet style inability to understand reality for the world, outside the ideological bubble, really are. They are only ways to prevent human possibility from going where it should go: always into creation, into being, ever expanding, it's currents flowing from rich to poor, not backwards, from poor to rich. And in that way, America has failed the three key tests of modernity: being a civilized society, being an enlightened society, and being a functioning society - it's unable to grasp the secret to prosperity that, hidden in plain sight, the whole rest of the world is beginning to use.

Remember when I asked you: what would you give for an extra decade of life? Now you know the answer. You should give now precisely what you wish to receive then. The rest of the world knows this as the Great Lever of Human Possibility. Managing a society well, at this juncture in human history, isn't hard: the miraculous thing is that it's become so easy. But only if we let it be, and that means letting our ideologies go, so that we can unlearn our own folly. And that America cannot do. Hence, unfortunately, it's in a suicide wedding with Engines of Decline, Despair, and Ruin.

*Of course, you might ask me: "well, what if people don't want to do that?" And I'd reply: "Hello. The first, most crucial, and most valuable job anyone that dares to call themselves a leader is only this: to help people see a little more truly, the world and themselves, with love and grace, courage and wisdom, every day."

Comment: The trouble with most societies is that eventually psychopaths manage to manoeuvre their way into positions of power and subvert everything good into a weapon to be used against the population; to be aware of psychopaths and their traits is to go some way to inoculating oneself and one's community against their destructive nature: