Monday, February 09, 2009
Basic Economics: Necessities
At heart, modern capitalism is designed to devour the lower tiers of society without mercy. Capitalism only cares if you have money, materials or labor. This can be simplified as the ability to create products or to purchase them. The needs of society and its members are moot, literally inconsequential to the process of acquiring capital resources. Or rather it is only important as it affects labor or the consumer ends of the equation.
Humans have a few very basic needs to merely survive from day-to-day: nourishing food, clean water, adequate shelter. Coming close on those is social interaction/community, basic health care, meaningful work and some leisure time. (Some might contest the necessity of leisure time but I'd argue that without it many people lose something intrinsic to their humanity.)
US society is exceptionally artificial and alienated from the natural world in many ways. The vast majority of Americans live in urban centers or the sub-urban communities surrounding these centers. This affects those basic needs.
A prime example of is food. No urban center is able to feed itself. Think about that for a moment. There is no farmland to speak of in an urban center. No significant livestock. Because of this, if there was a significant disruption of our transportation system, cities would begin starving almost immediately. I'm not talking a terrorist attack. Just an increase in the price of gas to affect truckers would do it. The peak price of gas last summer created a crisis for truckers.
While the Cold Warriors have been busy congratulating themselves about the collapse of the Soviet Union, we've been placid about the problems of capitalism. No society or economic system is so prosperous and perfect that it can't collapse catastrophically.
I'd like to see a society that provides for the basic needs of its people. The USA isn't doing this.