Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Postscarcity has to do with AIDS, Malaria, Polio, and Poverty

Whenever a cause is seen as sufficiently urgent -- such as millions of people dying if we don't do something dramatic, immediately -- suddenly postscarcity is almost no problem at all, there's enough of whatever is needed to address the blight, in a very short time. In the LA Times, Magic Johnson explains:
"We're on the verge of opening a seventh AHF Magic Health Clinic," he says, referring to his AIDS Healthcare Foundation-sponsored storefronts. "All these people all over the country can come in and get their HIV meds for free. Can you imagine?"
Yes, we can imagine, Magic, and we can imagine this urgency applying directly and immediately to the epidemic of poverty in America, and worldwide. John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, "24,000 people die every single day from hunger and hunger related diseases. At least 24,000."

As with many bleak statistics, we don't like to acknowledge them too publicly; the Deaths from Poverty numbers are likely understated, yet that is still nearly 9 million people dying from poverty every year. How many die from AIDS every year? The high estimate from international AIDS charity, Avert, is 2.1 million for 2009, about 5,700 per day. Tragic? Of course. Unacceptable? Of course.
"When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the [polio] vaccine, Salk replied: "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" (Wikipedia). Yet, today Monsanto seems determined to patent the entire world's food supply." This contrast neatly illustrates the fundamental standoff between the pragmatic postscarcity and inertial scarcity world views. 
The good news is, we can save those 9 million dying every year from poverty without any of the expense or complexity of formulating and distributing modern pharmaceuticals. To make an immediate difference, to begin saving lives TODAY, what we need to do is declare the basic human right to a subsistence basic income and declare it in effect by reason Humanitarian Emergency. We are talking about a plague 6 times the magnitude of AIDS.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - PKD
Perhaps if people haven't been able to comprehend the argument from logic and reason, they may need a slogan to get behind. I'm we can do better, but here's a first take, "If you're against the Basic Income Guarantee you are sentencing 9 million people to death again, this year alone; you killed 24,000 yesterday and are in the process of exterminating that many again, today. By your current philosophy and actions, you are steadfastly committed to growing that number, every day and every year, for the rest of your life. That about sums it up, right?"

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