Thursday, July 17, 2008

Like dogs over a dirty bone...

I've spent a great deal of time lately, trying to find solutions to the multitude of truly large problems in our world (either in my own mind or that others have come up with). The main problems I am concerned with currently are environmental and social oriented. We live in a world that seems on the verge of environmental and social collapse. As I search for these solutions, the concern of "cost" keeps coming up.

Over and over again, potential solutions are poo-poohed because they would be too expensive. We can't afford excellent education and healthcare for everyone. We can't tax or regulate those who profit the most from industry, lest they stop being industrious or relocate. It seems that solutions are only valid if they don't require us to consider any significant changes to the status quo. And the status quo seems to be; less than 1% of the global population controls or owns some huge percentage of global resources and wealth. The rest of us fight over what is left...

Now I know that not all is lost. Philanthropy does exist, truly benevolent human spirits exist. The problem is, they seem to be getting less and less and holding less and less sway. Unfortunately, philanthropy is also more and more tied to specific religious or politico-economic beliefs or practices.

But the simple facts of the matter are these....those in power and with great wealth tend to always want MORE power and wealth, and within current understanding, basic resources in our world are limited. These facts mean that no matter how hard we work and strive, not everybody can achieve unlimited amounts of power and wealth. It doesn't matter what religion or "school of economic thought" you belong to, our inability to grasp these facts as a population is the reason we have war and social inequality and economic manipulations that lead to crashes, and the current environmental/ecological dangers.

We humans REALLY need to step back and re-look at a few things and damn fast.

The economic system we've been using for 250 years is NOT WORKING. All free market capitalism really does in the end, is funnel power and wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer individuals. Sure, it can be made to sort-of-work in a subtle corporate-fascist environment such as we currently see. The lesson the powers-that-be learned in the 20th century was that the jackboots had to be traded for briefcases, that true power is gained through psychology instead of force.

The political systems used in most of the world are not working either. Over and over in literate history we see humanity eventually seeking control and direction even when it might seem to be wanting individuality. In the west and especially in North America, most are kept content by the possibility of achieving "middle class" status. We find individuality in which soft drink or fast food we can choose, or being sure our home looks a little different than the homes on either side of us. We find freedom in being able to have our own little space and our own things.

Here in Canada, that little space is a room, an apartment, a house, a farm...all just for ourselves or our immediate family. In India or Africa or many other places, that little space is often a corrugated steel shanty, usually shared with a bunch of other related or unrelated people, somewhere in the middle of a squatter-metropolis.

Finding "freedom" this way has meant the commodification of everything around us...even the water and air we need to live. Finding "freedom" this way has come to mean that solutions to problems must fit within the realm of cost-ratios and profit margins.

Every day I hear that the solutions to these monumental problems we face, are always soooo expensive or even too expensive. What if there was access to the wealth and resources that these so very few have gathered to themselves? Many of the resources have been squandered in their easily accessible form, but the building blocks for that matter still exist. If we can get past our incessant need to acquire more wealth or power than our neighbour, we can achieve so much more than we have.

It's time we realized that even if not every single member of society meets a certain level of "productivity", we still have huge potential as communities of differing sizes. A good example is our overall attitude towards seniors. Once members of society stop being "productive", we generally lose most interest in their wellbeing. They better have saved up enough when they were "being productive".

I refuse to accept that fighting over what someone else ISN'T doing at any given moment is a successful way to make sure the community or society itself is as efficient as possible. I refuse to accept that fighting like dogs over leftover bones (for the scraps left behind by the powers-that-be) is the ideal model of human society.

It's time we all had a little more concern for our neighbor and a little more willingness to share and a lot less satisfaction in having "more" than those around us. It's time we realize that there are more important "costs" than monetary.

This has been a SoapBoxTech rant. Be well all.