Simpol and international cooperation

Simpol stands for Simultaneous Policy.  This is defined by the organisation as policies enacted by all or sufficient nations in order to avoid first mover disadvantage. But what does this mean in practice and why do we really need it?

Humanity faces urgent global problems – climate change, poverty, WMD, financial crises and more – but  somehow, our governments seem curiously unwilling to face these problems head on and find lasting solutions. That is how it seems. The truth is that our governments are entirely unable to face these problems head on and find lasting solutions. There has been no shortage of summits and talks in recent years on these issues, yet all have come to nothing.

There is a reason for this.

In today’s ever increasingly competitive world no one government acting alone could possibly implement measures to deal with these problems. Any Government attempting to do so would face potentially catastrophic consequences due to first mover disadvantage.  To give an example:

In Tuesdays Guardian newspaper was this article regarding Financial Transaction Tax (FTT – also known, variously, as the Tobin tax and the Robin Hood tax). In the article a university research institute went on record as saying that an FTT could be successfully implemented unilaterally by governments.

But would this actually happen in reality?  Any government attempting to levy such a tax alone could be faced with catastrophic capital flight – where the money would be moved to another country where no such tax was in place. It is worth noting that this would not be an act of malice on the part of businesses. It would simply be an an act of common sense, of necessity, for them based on the way the system is currently organised. Any single corporation choosing to continue in a market with and FTT in place would be at a serious disadvantage compared to its competitors working from a non FTT market.

So any attempt to implement an FTT would have to be done cooperatively by at least a number of nations simultaneously. The research institute made the point that:

“A tax on foreign exchange transactions would be most effective if implemented by the key financial centres around the world”.

Now governments might easily agree to implement just such a policy at one of their numerous rounds of talks or summits. In fact they could have done so already. So why has it not happened? The answer lies in another question – why would they? Transnational corporations and money markets have a huge degree of influence over government via powerful lobbying institutions. Business has the ear of government at every level in every nation. Governments have very little incentive indeed to challenge such powerful interests (particularly when they so often rely on them for funding!).

Sadly, we the people have had no such voice with which to whisper in to the ears of the politicians…until now.

What Simpol offers is a mechanism so that we, the electorate, can speak with a loud, clear voice that will reverberate along the corridors of power.

By adopting Simpol we create a powerful lobby of our own and, in turn, an irresistible incentive for governments to act on the will of the people.

Even then though, when faced with two equal but opposing voices, there is a danger that the politician, fearful of making the wrong decision, would kick the idea into the long grass for someone else to deal with. There is a long standing fear in political circles that, no matter what positive policy is proposed, there will always be at least one country (if not a few) who are prepared to take advantage – to ‘free ride’ – and thus gain competitive advantage.

Simpol deals with this problem too.

The simultaneous implementation of policies removes even the possibility of ‘first mover disadvantage’ – the fear that by making a decision the politician might make his country uncompetitive. This frees the politician to make his decision based on what is morally right and best for his country (as opposed to fear of what is worst).

Put simply, Simpol allows a politician to listen to and represent the people as intended in the democratic system.



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