The Other Problems
As if climate breakdown, the species extinction crisis, this new era of pandemics and the critical lack of healthy soil were not enough, there are a number of other issues, most of which are inter-related and most of which could be successfully addressed if we solved the unconscionable income and wealth disparity. The top One Percent of Americans own as much as the bottom 90 percent. Globally, 99 percent of the population earns less than $34,000 a year. The One Percent are the bulk of the problem. It’s untenable to expect parents to prioritize these issues when they’re worried about their hungry children. All solutions flow from leveling-out the income and wealth imbalance. How to do that is a function of governmental policy which we can influence only by voting and joining the Voice of the Streets. To ensure clarity about these other problems and their basis for the need for a broad-based retooling of our economy and governmental policy, here is a list of the other problems facing the globe:
- Food Security – One in 9 people in the world go hungry each day. And even though 11% of the world is undernourished, about 39% of the adult population is overweight – low nutrient food and high in carbohydrates.
- Global Health and Well-Being – Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not the absence of disease and infirmity. The UN’s agenda for sustainable development by 2030 is the solution for those left behind in terms of health and wellbeing. WHO estimates that in 67 countries accounting for about 75% of the world’s population, and additional $3.9 trillion U.S. dollars will be needed, with domestic expenditures meeting 85% of the cost.
- Water Scarcity – About 2 billion people still use a water source contaminated with human waste. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions. Water wars are in our future.
- Gender Equality – Well known, the causes are many: disparate access to education, employment inequality, job segregation, lack of bodily autonomy and legal protection, lack of political representation, religious freedom and poor medical care, social mindsets and racism. If women farmers were given the same resources as men, 150 million more people could be fed, eliminating hunger.
- Poverty – Almost 700 million people or 9.2% live on less than $2 a day, about 14,200 children under 5 die from preventable causes such as poverty, hunger and disease.
- Refugees – Climate and war means that one out of every 45 people on this planet will need help and protection next year. In 2020, almost 170 million people in crises will need help and protection across more than 50 countries, the highest figure in decades.
- Money in Politics – In the U.S. less than 10 percent of campaign funds came from the top 1 percent, in 1982, a number that jumped to 46 percent by 2018, with 22 percent from 400 mega-doners.
- Corporate Consolidation – One percent of the world’s farms operate 70% of crop fields, ranches and orchards. One hundred corporations produce 70% of greenhouse gasses.
- Student Debt – At over a trillion dollars, it is a crisis. When a young person starts off their life owing $30,000, the average, they are 36% less likely to purchase a house, less likely take out a car load, more likely to live with your parents and a drag on the economy. Many never catch up.
- U.S. Tax Code – It is no longer progressive, favors the rich, does not raise sufficient revenue to finance government spending, is complex and allows those who earn the most to pay the least
- Privatization – The ideology that public commons is better served by private enterprise instead of government has made the rich, richer and shrunk the commons.
- Austerity – This set of political-economic policies designed to reduce government budget deficits used by the narrow minded as an excuse to cut spending on social programs. It’s is also bad economics that exacerbates economic downturns and recessions.
- Government Fossil Fuel Subsidies - Internationally, governments provide at least $775 billion to $1 Trillion in subsidies.
- Over Consumption - This characteristic is so engrained it may be worse than fossil fuel consumption. The “problem of consumption” is too complex for a sentence or two but is one of the critical components to survival of life on the planet. Eleven percent of greenhouse emissions are attributed to air traffic and transport. “The most fundamental driver of environmental destruction is the overconsumption of the super-rich.” While that statement is true, the top 10% also disproportionately pollute.
- Capitalism- “It is clear that prevailing capitalist, growth-driven economic systems have not only increased affluence since World War II, but have led to enormous increases in inequality, financial instability, resource consumption and environmental pressures on vital earth support systems.”
- Air Travel and Transport – Frequent Flying “super emitters” represent just 1% of the worlds population and they alone cause half of aviation’s carbon emissions. Only 11% of the world’s population took a flight in 2018.
- Forever Chemicals – They never go away, cause cancer and other diseases, are likely on every source of surface water in the U.S., fueling a public health crisis in drinking water.
- Built in Obsolesce – Design to last will curb the filth of pollution, waste and resource abuse.
- Plastic – It’s everywhere, in our poop, the average person is consuming up to five grams of plastic a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card.
- War – Including militarism, the culture of war, the armies, arms, industries, policies, plans, propaganda, prejudices, rationalizations that make lethal group conflict not only possible but also seemingly unending. America has been in Afghanistan now for 17-years.
- Resource Depletion – Capitalism requires at least 3% annual growth, impossible in do in a world of finite resources.
- Meat – More than 80% of the world’s farmland is used to raise cattle and other livestock, but produce only 18% of all calories consumed and cause 17% of the globe’s greenhouse pollution.
- Convenience – It is the most underestimated driver of most of the items on this list. Plastic, air travel, recycling, refusing single use cups are little trouble, but convenience prevents adopting solutions.
Let me emphasize an abbreviated phrase that includes most of the items mentioned above, the:
“Capitalism, Corporations, Concentration, Consumption and Convenience.”