A few weeks back I was in a heated discussion with someone who I met when I was working at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is a friend of a friend. Our heated discussion was on the topic of Equal Money and the necessity for a shift in our economic system to stop abuse, neglect and the annihilation of life.
The person I was discussing this subject with has a strong background in mathematics and statistics – so his point was that “we live much better today” than the way we were living, for example, 100 years ago. He pulled out some statistics that compared the standard of living of people in the world today to our former ways of living before WWI. There are others in the statistical arena who support this type of argumentation. Hans Rosling is one of the popular statisticians, who gives entertaining lectures about how we are doing so much better regarding poverty and child mortality in recent history…..”European kids – it was only with the turn of the century that more than 90% of the children survived the first year”…
Although I am also one for numbers and statistics, this is a bit like quantum mechanics, where the numbers say little when the observer looks at them and does not include her subjective outlook when attributing causes to the result. In short, the greater context that we are living in on a daily basis – globally – is missing from Rosling’s and my acquaintant’s argumentation. “Globally” is important because never before in recorded human history did we have prolific technological advances that connected the world – never. Nor have we had technological weapons that could destroy the world several times over.
When drawing a comparison in how much better we are currently off, regarding poverty and child mortality I would, inspite of some stats, say that we are missing the point because we must weigh in what we are able to do at this stage. Here I mean in sheer terms of our capability to communicate with each other, and create and build effective solutions. We have the means to take care of everyone, but we have to look at what we are actually doing, and we have to observe and acknowledge the reality we live in. In this article I will focus on the latter, and in articles to come I will address the former two points.
To demonstrate the reality we live in, and that numbers alone do not account for a better world, let’s take a news probe and put two news items face-à-face at each other to render the state of affairs in a different kind of light.
On August 9, 2011 a news article from PressTV came out with the headline “Two million children face starvation”. The article referenced statistics from UN sources concerning the Horn of Africa:
To pinpoint the location, the Horn of Africa, a place of prehistory as well as ancient human history, encompasses Northeast Africa and the Somalian Peninsula – this is where Africans are currently experiencing the worst famine in 60 years.
Here, 2 million of the starving 13 million people are under the age of 5.
30, 000 have already starved to death in the region due to the worst drought in decades (in some places of this region, there has been no rain for 2 years)
The famine has already spread to parts of southern Somalia. Three new districts have been added last week as declared famine zones. Here, 5 million people are at the brink of starvation (not just hunger!)
Further parts affected by the epidemic are Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
In contrast to this situation, which is one of the poorest areas in the world, let us move across the globe to the wealthiest nation, where according to the interpretation of stats by some, life should be stable and good.
A US news bit posted on the same site two days earlier starts out with the headline: “More Americans live on food stamps”. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports a drastic increase of those who are relying on the government-assisted food programme, where food stamps are administered through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
With the downward spiraling economic situation in the US, this food programme is subject to upcoming cuts. Together with the persistent high unemployment rate, there is a continued prognosis that the number of those who will need food stamps when buying food will increase. If cuts are implemented this will cause many to become homeless, because the need to feed their families will not subside, and so the funds have to be made available from other parts of the household budget – which will leave many in the streets.
Related stats in this news bit are that in 2007, 27 million people received food stamps. In 2008, 31 million, an increase of 4 million people on food stamps in just 1 year. In 2009, it was 37 million people, that is 6 million more than the year before, and currently, in the year 2011, it is 46 million people. In sum, the last four years have increased those who are on food stamps by 19 million.
Neither the people of the Horn of Africa, nor Americans in the US, live a self-determined life. 13 million in Africa, who will not survive without international help are mirrored by 19 million in the US who, without food stamps, will become homeless and may not survive.
In both instances to cover their basic needs, of which food is the most basic, Africans and Americans have to rely on dysfunctional governments, who are run by corporations and banks. This stands in stark contrast of all our modern progress when 100 years ago we did not have today’s technology and many of those people’ ancestors were working farmlands instead of working on computer terminals.
How can we ignore these developments and hail isolated statistical numbers as evidence of an improvement in the “way we live today”? – is it because those who make those statements are so removed from world events that they cannot see the reality behind these numbers? – or is it that the digital craze lets us forget that we have physical bodies that need food and shelter?
I say this, Africans who are battling starvation do not have the resources that Americans have, to stand up and bring about a new economic system. The fear of losing what they have on material wealth has made Americans paralysed so that they do not see their opportunities, to come together and change their situation. Perhaps it all has to get much worse before those who still have resources – and here I mean, for example, access to a computer and other social media technology, to make a difference, to organise themselves – and join us to create an Equal Money System. As it looks now, anger and aggression are steadily building up on both sides, through a rioting global public and through ailing governments inciting war to resurrect their economies.
The awakening to our opportunities, to change the world in a structured manner through the use of democratic means and global computer technology, might just be too late – and the next war, the final war, will prove that we have never ever lived better or worse – but that things have remained as abusive, neglected, and full of suffering as they always have been, time and again.
Challenge the human stagnation before it is too late and join us to bring about an Equal Money system.
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