When you stop and think about it, society, civilisation, the growth of human kind, has only been possible because of abundance and that each person, save a few less fortunate who we are perfectly capable of supporting, is capable of producing a great deal more that we individually need to live on.
Without that abundance and ability, we’d all be scratching a mean living from a recalcitrant Earth grudgingly sustaining us at the barest level of survival.
But it isn’t like that at all, though climes differ, but in temperate climes, it is hard work even containing nature. Try leaving your garden alone for a year.
Life has flourished by husbanding the Earth and its resources, though sadly, latterly, abusing it atrociously.
There is nothing mean about this earth we live on, or we just wouldn’t be here, and certainly not in the super abundance of things we’ve produced to make life not just tolerable, but, for many, extremely comfortable indeed.
So what is the problem and why are so many living with such appalling want, including here in the UK in one of the most benign temperate places on earth?
The problem, as any child can see, is that of sharing and the polarisation of wealth and resources into the hands of the few at the expense of the many.
In January 2016 Oxfam published a report that found the, “62 richest billionaires own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population”
Allow me to translate that, the poorest half of the worlds population (3.7 billion people) subsist on the same amount of wealth that is held in the hands of just 62 people.
Allow me to clarify. We live on a closed system, this planet which we call home, and that super abundance of the 62 has come from this earth and all that exists here.
Whilst it is true that we are each capable of producing more than we each need to live on, no one, but no one, can produce that much for themselves. Or if they can, let them come forth and let’s get a look at this super being.
Any takers? No?
No. The way it is done is through exploitation, not just of the Earth, but of the life and the people who inhabit it.
By hook or by crook, by fair means, though mostly foul, those with the most have ensured the world is ordered in such a way as to perpetuate the polarisation of wealth and resources to ensure that they remain the chief beneficiaries of the wealth production of others.
Work is a great trick. Whilst people can and do produce more than their personal needs dictate, the value of their labour is translated into a pay packet which bears no resemblance to the value of their labour and what they produce.
Falling wages have now reached such a poor level that millions work for less than they, as individuals, need to live on, let alone their families. We now, since 1999, have legislation for a minimum wage which is set below the level of individual subsistence.
Professor George Bain put it like this, the National Minimum Wage, “heralds a fundamental change to the labour market in the UK. There will be a floor to wages in the first time in this country, eradicating the worst cases of exploitation.”
Exploitation, but only the worst cases. Exploitation, however, continues to reign supreme in the way the human world functions.
The Earth and the value of human labour continue in all their super abundance, which are exploited for all they are worth.
The problem in dealing with this is in our perception of normal. We’re so damned used to being exploited, it has such a deep history, that it makes it extremely hard to properly think about it, let alone do anything about it.
I have been bollocked many times for being unrealistic; my lack of ability to just accept things the way they are.
“Come on Keith, that’s life.” Oh, and that makes it everything ok, does it?
“You just have to face facts.” Really? Which ones?
“Keith, you’re such a dreamer.” Hmm, don’t you have to be asleep to do that?
Why bother with building development, medical and pharmaceutical advances, with leaps in technology, science (for goodness sake), if we are meant to accept things just the way they are?
Douglas Adams was right, that’s just talking cross eyed badger spit.
Inequality and exploitation exist because human kind, and a very small section of human kind in particular, have designed it that way and go to extraordinary lengths to keep it that way.
Theresa May has said ‘free markets and tree trade’ are the best way to lift people out of poverty. That joyous abandonment of restraints on markets and trade, however, does not extend to those who work to make it all possible. Every worker being paid less than a living wage is, at the very least, being constrained by law and by force when they get a bit too uppity, to maintain their exploitation as wealth producers to profit others.
Unlike taxes, which are ostensibly extracted for the common weal, profits are extracted for less laudable purposes. Just 62 people have managed to extract an awful lot of wealth that is held by them to the exclusion of all those who produced it. And these days, people like Philip Green will even nick the contributory pension pot of those he has exploited to make himself obscenely rich.
This is beyond sense or reason. It is insane. But open your door and look outside and, wow, doesn’t everything look incredibly normal…
I really do think this appalling normality needs a wee bit of a shaking up. The problem is that it is a quirk of our nature that we are strangely resistant to change even to our own very great cost. We accept the changing seasons, perfectly normal, but we fail to grasp that the too long season of the exploitation the earth and everything in it and on it is long overdue for change.
Exploitation is a prison of human design and it is being ramped up at an appalling rate by those who benefit so richly from it, including governments, who should be regarded and treated as entirely corrupt and rogue and enemies of the people, who sadly vote them into power (for want of anything better).
It’s got so bad that even the Earth is groaning under the enormity of the pressure of greed. We need clear minds and better answers to, what is, a ludicrous situation that cannot possibly sustain itself for much longer. The answers, however, are never going to come from those who benefit from the perpetuation of greed, the answers lie with us and having the will, determination and strength to pursue a different path for a future, not just worth living for, but for any viable future at all.
We have to consume to live, that’s a given, but producing, caring and sharing are very different to grab what you can and make sure you hang on to it by fair means or foul. Avarice and greed, no matter that they are now lauded by the powerful as virtues, are still vices to anyone with a modicum of common sense.
KOG 29 November 2016
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