The economy sucks. The state of education sucks. Our democracy sucks. Being working poor sucks. Our environment sucks. The thesaurus lacks apt alternatives for the word 'sucks'... man that sucks. It's a lot of problems to be discussed in a single article but they're all connected in such a way that trying to consider only one of these issues and trying to have any sense of a solution is like trying to consider which thread is responsible for badly woven cloth. That being said I'll try to keep this brief and to the point. Long story short we need to find a better sense of balance in our society. Why? Do you see a lot of buildings where 90% of the weight is loading in the top 5% of the building. If you do appreciate it now because it won't be standing long.
Finding a new economic system won't work until we re-examine our methods of manufacture and supply. Building a better democracy won't help so long as the average person remains so disinterested and lacks the basic wisdom to consider what hopeful politicians promise. People lacking wisdom and consideration will be swayed by experts and authorities, they will latch onto those views without rationally thinking about how sturdy such views are under scrutiny. We have seen this in the 9/11 investigations where despite an official explanation which defies the laws of physics many people continue to believe those official truths and immediately call any contradicting theories conspiracy. Well what is the difference between the conspiracy theorist of today and the heretic of a time not so long past? None that I can see.
Clearly we need to return to teaching critical thinking in our schools. How else will we prepare our children for a world where any person can express their views in a forum available to nearly anyone else in the world if they cannot take two opposing arguments and weight the validity of both? While some in Washington, Ottawa, London and numerous other capitals the world over would like to legislate a solution, can we have any code of law which will respect the free speech of even the most cracked of crack-pots? The other alternative is to eliminate free speech, and such a prospect chills me to the bone. No society that can be described as good denies a person the right to speak their mind and then we pay the price of silencing the voice of unpopular truth. This leaves us the solution of providing the best education we can to people and allowing them to sort out the wheat from the chaff for themselves. If we then have a large mass of well educated people can we rightly deny some further education because they lack the funds to pursue it? What we need is universal post-secondary education. Given the power of internet we could easily create a system where any person could pursue the education they desire without a direct cost. Our governments have billions of dollars to funnel into wars without foreseeable end, surely we could get this funded as well and the advantages of such a system should be self-evident.
If we do not have the right to starve a person's mind of knowledge for lack of funds, what then would give us the right to starve a person's body for the same reason. Look into the government funding of the sugar industry, a crop with no nutritional value. If billions can be given into that why can we not subsidize staple foods and provide healthy food for those who need it? The issues of health care and crime continue in heated debate, but by making sure that every person has access to the food they need they will be healthier (thus reducing health care costs) and by no longer having their lives threatened by poverty and the starvation it brings will they so readily commit crimes (after all if you or your family was starving would you not do anything to protect them?). The same logic applies for housing.
So if we can agree that every person has the right to education, food, housing and medical care and can find an equitable and sustainable method in which to provide them (I have some specific ideas on how to craft such systems but those would make this article too long for most to read) what are the results? We have essentially provided the basic requirements of life. Once we have achieved this it becomes easier to have a more balanced and rational world. After all what threat is the death of the current auto industry and the unemployment it will create if no one is forced into the streets as a result. This gives people the breathing room to maintain quality of life while the evolution of industry continues. We have also made participation in capitalism optional. This is something we need. If money is speech (and the supreme courts have said it is) and we have free speech (and we're supposed to) then we as people should have the right to say nothing as well. Right now every activity in life requires some form of capital to be spent, I have no right to keep my mouth shut.
Another change which will need to be made and which cannot be made under our current economic system is to remove designed obsolescence. Again we come to the issue that this is something impossible to regulate while respecting the rights of individuals to design and create as they please. So how do we accomplish this? We have a good start in making capitalism optional, but I think we need to make some reforms to our patent laws as well. Right now a person who holds a patent is the only person with any rights to produce that item. This is a monopoly on ideas. If oil and car companies had not been able to monopolize and bury electric car and battery patents would we still be driving fossil fuels powered cars? If in it's place we had a system where any number of people could buy the rights to use a patent what would happen to products designed to fail? They would simply go to the wayside as the market would favor products which lasted longer, could be upgraded more easily and produced less waste. As a benefit to this we would be using fewer resources to constantly replace products which could be designed to have far longer lives and that would have positive effects for our environment.
I know I've tried to cover a lot of ground in a very short article, but no one issue can be taken and considered without considering the other ideas attached, they all must be considered. I intend to write in more detail on all these topics so as to flesh out these ideas more. But for now the skeleton of my considerations will have to do. I know some will argue that by providing the basic requirements to everyone we will create a lazy society of free-loaders who do nothing and expect everything, so let me give my response to that right now: 1)We are already a lazy society, 2)I firmly believe that if you give a person the opportunity to do anything, very few will choose to do nothing. Some will, but that has always been true and will continue to be true for a very long time to come. That's no reason to deny people who would like to do more.
Thank you for reading, Kris