Scarcity & Equality of access
On 10/01/11, I showed up in downtown St. Louis to join the Occupy Wall st. movement and to join in the formation of our Occupy St. Louis branch. Activists descended on the Wall st. banks in New York, and through the viral nature of social media something clicked for people worldwide and the need to speak out against the injustices of the world became an immediate concern. On the first day of our occupation, people were drawn in together from different backgrounds and they brought forth different messages. The sign I brought day 1 ties in with my recent Capitalism critique, and that problem is the illusion of scarcity.
It is true that our resources are limited, and therefore scarcity genuinely exists, but Capitalism has a built-in system of inequality of access to resources. There are the haves and there are the have nots. Voltaire claimed that the ultra wealth of the elite couldn’t exist without an abundance of the poor. Currently, it is very difficult to gain access to food or housing without money. If money is scarce, then your access to necessities are withdrawn. It is like an amusement park; you have to have this much income to ride the Capitalism roller coaster. We know there are more people-less homes than homeless people, and we know that an enormous amount of food gets thrown away rather than being given away. Scarcity then is a byproduct of the inefficiencies of Capitalism, and it’s inability to match the resources available with the people that need them.
Jacques Fresco, visionary scientist and founder of the Venus project, advocates for a new design that can more efficiently distribute resources, and which replaces scarcity with equality of access for all. He argues that a resource-based economy is the best remedy for the ailments of our inherited culture. Young people today are being initiated into a system that perpetuates inequality, and they are expected to accept it and to continue to propagate the same ideology. The young people I know experience scarcity of money, no access to health care, and they struggle to afford housing. Perhaps if they were presented with an alternative that offered them access to all those necessities they currently lack, they may be more open-minded than previous generations about changing the course.
I know all too well the fear of not having enough money to pay this month’s bills. So many people are right on the edge of having to live on the streets. If housing were declared to be a human right, how drastically would it affect the workforce? Many people accept jobs that don’t challenge or fulfill them out of necessity, but what if that fear of the bottom falling out was removed? The reality that without money we could starve is so terrifying that I believe scarcity to be the boogeyman wreaking untold havoc on our psyche. It may be difficult to envision a life without the looming fear of poverty, but to me it sounds like the light at the end of the tunnel for what has felt to me like the Dark Ages. Equality of access to all, no exceptions.