11 Belief Based and Intelligently Designed Societies

When we first evolved on this world, hundreds of thousands of years ago, we didn’t find a pre-existing set of instructions about how to organize our existence.

How should we interact with the world around us? 

How should we organize our interactions with other members of or species? 

The first humans didn’t find a set of guidelines. 

Our ancestors had to figure this out for themselves. 

Since they didn’t arrive to find any pre-existing sciences with instructors standing by to help them uncover evidence and put it together through algorithms that would lead, if followed, to the correct answer, they basically had to guess. 

Different people made different guesses. 

Some guessed that the wonders they saw around them were so amazing that they couldn’t be the result of mere chance events.  There had to be some sort of intelligent design.  There had to be a creator of some kind, a wonderful being of vast intelligence, who made things as they were when humans first arrived. 

The may have guessed that there was a reason for their existence; they were created for a certain purpose and they were supposed to organize themselves to fulfill this purpose.  We have great powers and abilities that no other animals have.  If there is a creator, and the creator gave us these powers and abilities, we are clearly supposed to use them. 

The creator gave us the power to dominate all other beings on this world.  If they harm us, we can drive them into remote areas where they aren’t threats; if they continue to bother us, from isolation, we can hunt them down and exterminate every last member of their species. 

We have the ability to do this.

The creators (creator for monotheists) gave us these abilities. 

We are supposed to use them. 

To not use them is an insult to the one(s) who gave us these powers. 

We are supposed to wipe out any other beings that threaten us or even bother us. 

We have the ability to organize into groups and use or ability to plan and communicate to carry out vast projects that no other animals can carry out.  If we want to change the course of rivers, we can dig canals to divert them wherever we want them to go.  We wouldn’t have been given these powers if we weren’t supposed to use them.  We can build, design, modify the land, subdue it to make it suit our purposes. We are supposed to do all of these things.

People have accepted this as a reality of existence for a very long time, perhaps for the entire time we have been here.  The formal name for this mode of thinking is ‘manifest destiny.’

The idea is that there is a creator (or creators for polytheists), the creator has a destiny in mind for us, and the creator makes this destiny clear (‘manifest’) by giving us the power to do the things we are supposed to be doing. 

The principle of manifest destiny is often used by groups of people to claim a mandate to wipe out people living in areas that the people in that group want to take over for themselves. For example, during the conquest of the Americas, organized military groups (well funded by tax revenues from the masses) were sent into densely inhabited towns and villages to evict all of the people form their homes and send them to remote areas.  Often,  these people resisted the  removals and had to be killed to remove them.  A large portion of the people who were killed were children, not because children were targeted, but because a large percentage of the people anywhere are children.  This is a horrible thing to have to do and many soldiers who did these things often were so depressed afterward that they committed suicide.  (Suicide is a leading cause of death in soldiers and many scholars say that more soldiers have died of suicide than have died in action.)  

But this activity was organized and carried out on a massive scale.  Hundreds of thousands of people were involved in planning and arming the troops and millions of people contributed to the cost of these ‘removals’ by paying taxes that funded the activities.  Without the wealth that the tax revenues generated, these activities could not have taken place. 

How were people convinced to contribute to this cause?  They were told that we really don’t have any choice. The creator (a god who, in the religions involved in the conquest was named ‘God’) has made his intentions manifest and we must comply.  We must follow God’s mandates or we will be punished by an afterlife of eternal physical torture in hell, without any hope of respite from the pain through unconsciousness or ultimate death.  It is our destiny.  Any resistance is an insult to the creator who guides us and a mortal sin.

If a group of people are guessing about how they think humans are supposed to be interacting with the world, they may start with the principle of manifest destiny.  They may guess that humans are supposed to use our powers and take full advantage of the gifts that the creator which they guessed existed gave us. 

We are supposed to treat the world as ours, to use any way we want.

How about our interactions with other members of our species? 

Here, practical realities become important:  We (our group/tribe/clan/nation) are trying to take certain land.  Other groups are trying to take the same land.  The people who interpret the will of the creator tell us the answer is obvious:  God controls everything.  We fight the other groups.  God decides who he wants to have the land and makes sure that side wins.  They (the people who interpret the will of the creator ) tell us that God divided the world into ‘nations.’   He ordered the nations to fight each other and granted land to the victors.  (This is a foundational principle of the religions in the family called ‘The Abrahamic religions, which include Christianity, Islam, and Judiasm; all these religions share the same primary instruction book, called ‘Genesis’ in the Christian version.  The discussions of nations start with Chapter 10.) 

We must take the land or at least try to take it.  We must oppose other ‘nations’ who want the same land with all our power.  We are mandated to win these wars:  if we fail, we have no right to even continue to live. 

All this follows naturally and simply from this particular guess that a group of recently-evolved people might make shortly after they gained self-awareness’ and cognition.  They start with a guess and build on it. They need to fight over land and this requires a great many complex structures.  They need to build these structures.

Other Guesses

Other people may make other guesses. Starting with these other guesses, they may think other structures are necessary and may build other kinds of societies. 

Some people saw the awesome power of nature.  They realized they were helpless before nature.  If nature wanted to destroy them, it would destroy them: there wouldn’t be anything they could do to stop it. 

If you have ever seen a volcano erupt, you see that it incinerates everything.  It doesn’t treat humans any different than anything else.  If you have ever seen a flood, you will know that it can wash away homes and loved ones, sweeping them from you so fast that you don’t even have time to say goodbye.  Droughts take away crops and there is nothing  you can do to force rain to come:  if nature doesn’t want it, there won’t be any rain.  I have personally seen the power of nature on many occasions. 

I was in Orange Texas in 2005, 200 miles away from New Orleans, when Katrina hit.  Even at this great distance it had awesome power and no sane person could claim to have the ability to survive if something this powerful wanted them dead.  I was in Yellowstone in 1988 when fires burned most of the park, creating their own weather conditions with 100MPH winds flowing in as the heat of the fire lifted the air and everything in it upward.  Most of us have seen footage of disasters of what we were told were ‘biblical proportions:’  the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed 230,000 people; the 2010 Haiti earthquake killed 316,000.  Although the newscasters call these ‘events of Biblical proportions’  the truth is that they are not rare.  Thousands of events that take lives occur each year and I have seen a great many of them with my own eyes. 

Nature is unpredictable. 

It has always been so. 

It was unpredictable for newly-evolved people.  They saw tragedies.  They would have wondered why these things happened.  Whatever forces direct the fury of nature somehow decided to destroy the people they loved.   They may think that any sane person would realize that nature is powerful and they needed to respect this power. 

Nature isn’t always  our enemy, however.

Normally, nature is a great benefactor, giving us everything we need and want. We see the beauty and generousness of nature far more often than we see its fury.  The smell of the rain during a summer thunderstorm, the songs of the birds in the morning, the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake at sunrise, the sweetness of a mango picked fresh from a tree, every day there are new wonders. It is almost as if nature treats us as a loving parent.  Normally, it gives us everything we want and does whatever possible to make us happy. Sometimes, however, we have committed some offense—probably without us even realizing this—and corrections are needed. 

They saw that most people in their community had the proper respect for nature.  But not all of them.  Perhaps the disasters were signs from whatever forces control nature.  Perhaps nature treats us well if we can understand its basic laws and follow them, but harms us if we take it for granted or treat it with a lack of respect. 

People don’t have to be religious to think this way.  Logical people can come to the same conclusion.  There is a balance in nature.  If we understand this and work within it we can make changes and keep nature operating as before. 

Religious people might go farther than this, imagining that there are spirits in the mountains and rivers that they must appease.  If they don’t respect nature, the sprits will punish them.  Some people combine these ideas in their minds.  They don’t really believe in spirits, at least most of the time.  It makes sense that the natural world has to be healthy in order to meet their needs.  But at times, when things get crazy, villages get destroyed and loved ones killed, they may slip back into superstition and believe it is better to try to appease the spirits even if they may not really exist.  Maybe sacrificing one who didn’t show the proper respect might allow the spirits to leave them alone. 

Newly-evolved humans had to guess what was important.  After they guessed, decided that a certain way to interact with the land and other people on it was right and other behaviors went against the things the believed were true and were wrong.  Groups that guessed that nature was in charge and that humans were just as helpless before nature as other animals, might conclude that we have the obligation to use our intellectual skills to create rules that prevent people from doing things that might bring harm to nature or offend any spirits that might direct nature. 

Nothing could be more dangerous to nature or offensive to any sprits that might be in charge than treating nature as something that we own and have the right to buy, sell, rape of its resources, pollute, devastate, or alter for the personal benefit of the owner.  When people who started with these guesses are making their rules, they will work very hard to make sure that no rules ever exist that allow people to treat nature as property.  They may discuss this with people who are not committed on the topic and make it clear that they will be very angry if anyone breaks the rules designed to prevent people from owning or claiming to own land. 

If people break these rules and disaster comes, some of the religious ones may be looking for someone to sacrifice to the spirits that caused the disaster.  If there are people who didn’t follow the rules, or people who followed the rules but said things that indicated they didn’t share the underlying beliefs, these people would be obvious candidates.  If you lived in such a system, you would realize it was not very smart to go around telling people you thought the beliefs were wrong.

People raised in such societies would probably never meet anyone who had any other ideas about how the world works. Nature is in charge.  The laws of nature are paramount and above all human laws. We don’t own the world and can’t own it.  Children raised in societies built on these beliefs would probably never consider that the had a specific type of society or that other types are possible.  They would think that there is only one sound and logical way to interact with the world:  they way they interact with it. 

But they do have a ‘type of society.’ When the first upright apes on earth gained self awareness and sapience, they didn’t find a guidebook explaining how existence works, whether they were created and, if so, giving the intentions of the creator.  They had to guess about these things.  They started with a very simple guess and decided it made sense.  They decided that they had certain beliefs about what was important in existence.  They built rules for the practical structures of their societies that depended on these beliefs.   They ended up with a very specific type of society that was built on specific guesses their ancestors about these things and the beliefs that were built on these guesses. 

Imagine you are an objective observer of earth societies, say a scientist on another world which had sent probe with high power cameras to earth as of the year 1400, in the calendar of the part of the world called ‘Europe.’ 

You see two entirely different types of societies.  One, in Afro-Eurasia, is built on the belief that we are supposed to fight over land, dominate it, and subdue it. This society has been around for several thousand years and, since it is built on conquest, it spread rapidly after it first formed.  (Any group that claims it is a ‘nation’ is the absolute or sovereign owner of any territory it can conquer.  Ownership-based societies have much stronger incentives to innovate, invent, invest, and take other steps that lead to progress and technology; the group with these advantages could take advantage of them to conquer additional land.  By 1400, there were no significant areas that hadn’t yet been conquered.) 

All of the rest of the world (all except for the Afro-Eurasia landmass and islands close enough to conquer) had societies built on the opposite belief system. 

You would probably think that both of these societies were pretty primitive. Neither was built on logical or scientific analysis of the different ways that thinking beings can interact with the world that meets their physical needs, or an analysis of the way the structures of society impact the human race as a whole or planet we live on. You may say that both of these societies are ‘first stage’ societies.  They are societies that beings might form that hadn’t fully come to grips with their intellectual capabilities. 

Societies built around Intellect

Our group in Pastland is in a position to form any kind of society we want.  We could start by holding séances, prayer vigils, vision quests, and drug-induced hallucinations to help us get in contact with spirits and our feelings about what might be right; we might work out belief systems based on the results to figure out the way our feelings or possible spirits tell us about the way we are supposed to organize our feelings. 

But we don’t have to do this. 

We can study the different structures that can be a building block of the societies of humans (or other beings with the same general characteristics as humans).  We can figure out the way these blocks can fit together and determine how each of the societies that can be built will operate.  We can organize and categorize the results so we can compare them to each other, to determine how each would work if we adopted it in our situation.

Of course, if we understand all possible societies, we will also understand societies that are built on beliefs:  the set of belief-based societies is a subset of the set of all possible societies.  We can examine the way they fit into the mix.  We know that, in the last iteration of the human race, at least two ‘example’ societies existed.  We can examine the way these societies worked. 

Once we understand all of the options, we can hold meetings where our group—which includes the entire human race—can decide what we want.  We basically have a blank slate to build on:  our moratorium prevented us from giving any people or groups (by any name, including ‘countries’) from having any rights to the world around us. There is nothing to undo, no vested parties to ‘overthrow,’ no owners to disenfranchise, and no corporations with rights to the world they will fight to keep. 

All we have to do is vote on the choice we want.  We can then make it a reality. 

Partial Ownability Systems

We would expect societies built on beliefs to be simplistic.  We wouldn’t expect people guessing about things they can’t verify to make extremely complicated and convoluted guesses.  For example, lets go back to a primitive time (say when humans first evolved) and imagine their guesses about whether spirits or gods (if they exist) want us to own or not own parts of the planet. 

The simplistic guesses are:

1.  We are supposed to own. 

2.  We are not supposed to own.

We would expect them to choose one of these two options.  Perhaps different groups in different areas may make different choices, some choosing option 1 and some choosing option 2.  But we would not expect these people to guess that we are supposed to accept that our people are supposed to own partial rights, including the rights to improve parts of the world but not the rights to use destroy and including the right to keep some of the rights to wealth (or money if money is used) the land generates, but not all of it. 

Those who are religious would not presume that the creators (creator for monotheists) want us to let people have deeds or titles that grant them some collection of rights that are in a ‘list of possibly ownable rights’ and that these creators expect to guess which rights we will let people own, make it a reality, and then be judged after death for our ability to make these complicated guesses and create contracts that transfer these rights accurately. 

It would be possible to create a system that has this kind of ownership.  But we would not expect people who are guessing about the intentions of superbeings with whom we can’t communicate (at least not in any verifiable scientific way) to guess that these invisible beings created this world and then are now watching all of the religions here to see if any of them get this right.  If a group of people were to create a system that was designed to let people own certain rights to the world (say the right to benefit by doing things that improve its productivity) but not own other rights, they would almost certainly not base this on guesses about the intentions of invisible superbeings that they guess might exist. 

They would build on science, logical analysis, and a comparison of the different systems that could be created.

Back to Pastland

When our group in Pastland arrived, we passed a moratorium.

We did this to give us time. 

We know that if we recreated the systems we had in the 21st century, before we went back in time, we would immediately recreate the violent systems we left behind.  We didn’t rule this out entirely:  we can still choose to have these systems after 20 years, if a majority of our members want this.  But we have some breathing space.  We have time to consider the different kinds of societies that we could build, how they would work, and how each choice would affect the human race and planet earth over the long run. 

We all know the moratorium is going to end someday. 

We all know that something is going to replace it.  (It is possible that another moratorium will replace it, but it is also possible that something else will replace it.) 

What are our options? 

What other systems can we build?

We can take advantage of this 20 years to come up with options.  We can work them out. 

What Might Other Societies Look Like?

The two societies that have existed in our history were extreme systems. 

Territorial sovereignty societies start with one extreme:  all rights to the world, or 100% of the rights, are ownable.  Group of people who calls themselves the right name (‘nations’) can claim a part of the world (if it has not yet been claimed) or conquer it from people who have claimed it in the past.  As long as they take the right steps and can show that they have gone through the right ceremonies (they have a national song, for example, a flag, some fancy documents stating that they are a country, and a few others) they are considered to be nations and whatever part of the world they have conquered belongs to them, absolutely and completely, with no limits or restrictions of any kind.   This is an extreme way to interact with the world.  It is not possible to exceed the degree of ownability (100% ownability) that forms the foundation for these societies. 

Natural law societies at the other extreme.  They are built on the principle that humans have no rights to ever own, even for a limited period of time, even if the rights are limited, and even if accepting ownability (perhaps of a limited number of rights for a limited period of time) would bring great benefits for the people accepting these rights.  Nothing is so important that it can justify granting any rights for any length of time.  This is the opposite extreme, reflecting exactly 0.00000% ownability, period. 

If we were trying to figure out other societies, we might start by looking for systems that are in between these two extremes.  We could draw a line that includes ‘all possible options,’ including those we don’t understand and haven’t discovered.  We could place the two options we already understand on this line. We might come up with a line like this:

 

Chart of societies based on degrees of ownability:

0%                                                                                                                100%

 

Zero percent and 100% are extremes. There are a lot of numbers between these two extremes.  If it is possible to start with 0% ownability and build a society on this premise, and possible to start with 100% ownability and build a society, we might imagine it must be possible to have something in between, say a 25% ownability system, and build on that.  If it is, our chart of possible societies would look like this:

 

Chart of societies based on degrees of ownability:

0%                                  25%                                                                       100%

 

The idea of partial ownability is pretty hard for us to imagine, because it doesn’t correspond with the way we were raised to think about ownership.  To understand it, you must be willing to accept that ownership is not a philosophical concept at all (one created by a divine being or existing as a universal given that we must accept) but a mechanical system.  It is not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ concept.  It is a device like a car engine, that we can adjust to operate any way we want it to operate. 

I want to give a quick example so you can see the general idea:

What Should You Do With Your Land?

Imagine that have just inherited a ‘land holding company.’  This company came to own a great deal of land over the decades before you were born. You didn’t even know the company existed until one of your distant relatives died and left it to you. 

The former owner did nothing with the land. 

You want to do something with it.

You open the files and to the first page, a property description.  It is a bog where wild rice grows.  You contact a land use consultant and have her go out and evaluate the land. 

She determines that if it were operated as farm, it would produce a free cash flow of $2.4 million a year. You can deal with this land several different ways. 

One option would be to simply get rid of it. 

Sell it. 

Don’t even consider whether you may possibly sell some rights to it and keep others:  simply conduct an auction and ask people to bid for the size of a pile of $100 bills they will trade you for the land.  Whoever offers you the largest pile will get the land in exchange for the pile of money. 

If you ask your consultant how large of a pile of $100 bills you might be able to guess, she will use some standard formulas to work this out. 

 

The standard formula to determine the market value of a cash-flow generating property is called the ‘capitalization of free cash flows’ formula.  You can find detailed descriptions of this formula on the internet.  The formula determines the amount of cash that, if invested in an interest-bearing account, will generate the same yearly cash income as the free cash flow of the property.  For example, what amount of cash would you need to invest at 5% interest (assuming this is the current market interest rate) to get $2.4 million a year in interest?  To calculate this, you look for a number which, when multiplied by 5%, equals $2.4 million.  In high-school algebra notation: X * 0.05 = $2.4 million.  To solve for X, divide both sides of the equation by 0.05 to get X = $2.4 million/.0.05.  Divide to get X = $48 million. 

 

If the going market interest rate is 5%, she will give you a number of $48 million (or some figure so close to this that any difference isn’t important for practical purposes.)  You could just get rid of the land, trading it for a pile of $100 bills roughly 17.2 feet high. 

But you decide you don’t want to do this. 

For this example, let’s say that you have an extremely large family.  You love them all and they think of you as their protector and provider. You have promised you are going to provide for your people forever.  The land produces wealth.  If the farm is operated in a sustainable way, it will produce wealth forever. 

If you sell the land, you will get a pile of cash.  You can divide this cash among your currently-living family members.  They will then spend it and there will be nothing left for the people you promised to support in the future. 

You decide you will not get rid of the land. 

You tell your consultant that you aren’t going to do this.  What other choices do you have?

She tells you that you could just hire someone to run the farm. 

There are people who manage farms and are looking for jobs.  You have to be very careful, however, because if people who know what they are doing and are honest, they probably already have jobs.  If you get someone who doesn’t know what she is doing, the farm isn’t going to produce anything close to what it can produce.  If you get someone who is dishonest, she may simply take everything the farm produces, sell it for cash, and leave.  You also have to worry about something bad happening to the farm.  Say a hurricane comes and the river nearby is predicted to breach its embankments. Once a breach started, it could grow rapidly into a flood that washes away all of the soil in your farm.  You, as the owner, don’t want this to happen. If you are there, you could order your employee to go out in the pouring rain and fill sandbags to reinforce the bank. But you can’t expect her to care enough to do this without being ordered to do it.  She has no financial interest in the farm.  Why should she put her life and health at risk trying to save it? Even if you order her to do it, she might just tell you she is going to do it and not do anything.  Then, if the farm gets destroyed and you call her, she can say ‘I did what I could, sorry.’  It isn’t her problem, it is yours. 

This option doesn’t meet your needs. You don’t want to create a business relationship where you have to watch your partner 24 hours a day to make sure she knows what she is doing, isn’t going to try to rip you off, and has no interest in whether the farm continues to exist or is washed into the sea.  You tell your consultant that this isn’t going to work either.  You want another option. 

Her next suggestion is to just find a renter and turn it over to the renter.  You can set you rent at the free cash flow of $2.4 million.  She can run the farm and keep everything above this.

But this has basically the same problems you would have if you hired someone to run the farm, but gives you no ability to interfere to protect your interests.  Your renter is going to sell production and get a bunch of money. She is then supposed to give the great bulk of that money to you. 

But when the time comes to pay the rent, she may say she just doesn’t have the money.  There are a lot of excuses she could use for this.  A few standard ones are: 

1.  I lost the check from the sale of the grain.

2.  I had it in cash but someone held me up at gunpoint and stole it. 

3.  Someone hacked my account and transferred the money to Nigeria. 

4.  I deposited the check but the bank must have made an error in the accounts and deposited it to someone else’s account. 

I have been a landlord for many years. I have heard so many excuses for not paying rents that I could write an entire book about them.  I had a tenant whose mother died so she had to spend the rent money getting to the funeral. The next month, her father died so she had to miss her rent.  The next month, it was the mother again.  I said ‘I thought your mother died two months ago.’  The reply was:  ‘That was my step mother; this is my real mother.’  I let her slide and eventually had to take her to court and remove her from the property, at great expense when her relatives died for a third time. 

Renting is a hassle and has the same problems that hiring people has:  the people who make the day to day decisions on the land can make money doing things that harm you.  You don’t want this.

You want to know if there are any other options. 

Partial Ownership

In this case, the example involves a ‘land holding company’ and not just the land itself.  You inherited a corporation.  Corporations have certain options that aren’t really available for mortal people.  One of them involves basically turning the person who makes day to day decisions on the farm into a kind of partner.  Make her a part owner.  She can make decisions on the farm and keep part of the wealth the land generates. If you do this by selling her an interest, she will have money invested and will have money at risk.  This will give her incentives to protect the land, to make sure nothing goes wrong that she can prevent, and to deal with any problems that arise quickly to prevent problems she can prevent and deal with any problems she can’t prevent quickly, while they are small and before they grow into major problems. 

Your consultant tells you that this is actually a very common way that land-holding companies deal with their land. In fact, there are companies in Hawaii that own millions of properties and deal with them by selling part interests. (The next chapter provides an example to show how this works in our real 21st century world.)  You can do the same. 

If you do this, you will be an owner and the person who operates the farm will be an owner. 

Owners have certain interests. Owners want the land to be in as good of condition as possible so that, if they sold, they could get the highest price possible.  

Owners want production to be as high as possible. They want the free cash flow to be as high as possible. 

They want to prevent anything that can damage the property from happening if the can.  If something happens they can’t prevent, they want to minimize the damage and repair it as quickly as possible for the lowest possible price, so it will continue to produce as before.  If you take on a partner with an ownership interest in the property, this person will have the same interests you have.

 You are not going to simply give this other person a part interest. 

That won’t meet your needs. 

You need her to have some of her own money on the line.  In the investment world, people use the term ‘skin in the game.’  People who have a lot of their own money on the line feel incredible mental agony when they lose this money.  It feels so bad that, if you asked them, many of them would have preferred to have had skin rubbed raw (the worst kind of pain most people have experienced) than to have lost the money, if they had had the option.  People with a lot of ‘skin in the game’ are not going to let things go wrong if they can help it. 

What is the Right Percentage to Sell?

If the part owner has only a tiny amount of skin in the game, she may not really care enough to prevent problems.

For example, say you have a hired worker on the land and you want to sell her an interest but she only has $48 to spend. You can sell her a one millionth share for this.  (If a 100% interest would bring $48 million, a millionth should be worth $48.).  If she runs the farm well and it produces a free cash flow of $2.4 million, she will own the right to one millionth of this, or $2.40.  She will also get her $50,000 a year, of course, for running the farm, so her income will be $50,002.40 if she is a part owner and $50,000 if she is not. 

Each year, she must run the farm, pay all operating costs, pay her $50,000 salary for running the farm, and give you $2,399,997.60 as your rents.  (This is 999999/1000000th of the free cash flow.)  If she does not do this, she will lose all the money she invested in the farm. 

But this isn’t going to be enough money for her to really care about, because she invested only $48. 

Let’s say she has paid everyone except you and has your money ready to go.  She is holding $2,399,997.60 of your money.  Now she has a decision to make: Is she going to be honest and give you the money that belongs to you, or is she going to keep it and make you sue her for it? 

She may be totally honest, but you would have to admit it would be tempting for her to take your money and let you have the farm back, giving up her $48 investment. 

She does have skin in the game.

But not enough to protect you. 

If you want to be protected, you need to sell her a larger share.  (If she can’t afford it or won’t buy, you can get someone else.  As long as you are offering at market rates, you will find someone who will buy the share you are trying to sell.)  

If you want her to have the largest possible incentive to prevent problems with the farm, it seems logical that you should sell her the largest possible percentage of the rights to the farm. The largest possible percentage is 100%.  This does give her very strong incentives to take care of the farm.  She will own all rights to it.

But you will now own no rights to it. 

The farm will produce for many generations.  You want this production to benefit your heirs.  But if you sell 100% of the rights, there will be nothing left to pass down to them.

It doesn’t do YOU any good to have HER working hard to take care of the farm, if you don’t keep at least some interest in the farm. 

Remember why you are doing this: You want to care for your people forever.  The land produces wealth forever. 

If you don’t keep any interest in the land at all, you have nothing to give your people.

Selling TOO MANY rights

You need to keep some interest in the property. 

Obviously, if your interest is miniscule, this won’t really be any different than having  no interest at all.  For example, say you decide you are going to sell all but one millionth of the rights to the farm yourself.  If the entire farm would sell for $48 million, a 99 999999/1000000th interest will sell for $47,999,952. 

The part owner will keep everything the land produces except for $2.40 per year, which will be your company’s share. Of course the part owner will have very strong incentives to keep the farm in good condition.  This will benefit you:  there will be almost no chance you will ever not get your $2.40 each year.  (It is never in her best interests to not pay the $2.40, and let you repossess a property you can then sell for $47,999,952.)

She will also have strong incentives to improve the land. If she doubles the wealth this land produces, your share of the income from the farm will also double.  Rather than $2.40, you will get $4.80 a year.  This is a trivial amount of money.  Doubling the wealth production of the farm only makes you enough to buy a cup of coffee each year (at a cheap, cheap coffee shop).  It isn’t going to take care of your people. They will look back as you as an idiot.