Thursday, October 16, 2014

The End of Inequality
    Here in North America, we have a problem: although the majority of us will pay lip service to the concept of inequality, we live in a culture that is based on and celebrates inequality. And the biggest problem we face, global warming, really doesn't respect power, wealth, or privilege.
    The Americas were founded in genocide, built on slavery, and flowered by exporting the same form of colonialist activity around the world. Now, in late stage capitalism, the public good is trashed for corporate profit, financial speculation ensures hundreds of millions are left in near starvation, and corporate power has usurped the functioning of government of every stripe. The horror of it all is that we see this as normal, and not only haven't we strung up the offending parties, but instead, we do our best to emulate them. And, as Thomas Piketty has explicated in Capital, we have returned to an age when wealth is reserved for inheritors, not creators.
    While what is now called the developed world has seen massive benefits from the Age of Carbon, all the undeveloped world has seen is warfare, exploitation, and destruction. Now, our addiction to hydrocarbons has reached the point where we are willing to destroy what groundwater we have left in order to pursue the last scraps of “wealth” left under our feet. Or, specifically here in Canada, we allow the First Nations people to die from poverty, to slowly die from myriad cancers, and to face starvation in order that a very few can become obscenely rich, and a few thousand more can become wealthy by world average standards. Meanwhile, our “democratic” governments must pay fealty to the exploiter class while our public infrastructure is destroyed by rising temperatures while impoverished local governments are left to struggle with the aftermath.
    This all serves to maintain the illusion that the world around us in “normal.”  Yet while we carefully kept the benefits to ourselves, we have dumped the costs on the environment (those un-payed-for externalities that business cannot survive without), and we've carefully lied to the bill collector so that those in the undeveloped world are pursued for the outstanding debt while we seemingly get off Scot-free. Island nations around the world are drowning in slow motion, drought and desertification spread across the equatorial and sub-equatorial world, and yet we allow foreign firms and governments to purchase unimaginably large swaths of the undeveloped world to produce food for export back to the developed world. We acquired the debt, but leave others to pay for it.
    Ultimately, of course, the Great Mother doesn't give a rat's ass about our petty games. We don't figure this all out, she'll shake us off like so many dead skin cells, and give the planet back to the trees. We need to adopt the first tenet of the Hippocratic Oath (first, do no harm) as our guiding principle, or we can plan on seeing our children, our parents, ourselves, die slowly and horribly, crying out to an uncaring universe for succour. 

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