The CNN opinion piece of the same title is here: http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/09/07/rushkoff.jobs.obsolete/index.html?iref=obnetwork
I enjoyed reading it, and I'd like to talk about it. So, bear with me, here. How many of you have asked yourself, or others, "This is the 21st century. Science fiction promised me flying cars and colonies on the moon. Where is my flying car and my frickin' moon base?!" Even facetiously. A show of hands will do.
What about other things science fiction promised us? A future without hunger? An economy without money? It's funny when we watch Captain Kirk stumbling his way through 80's America, trying to find himself a humpback whale (and some nuclear wessels, too) and explaining that money is an archaic concept that his culture gave up years ago. It's not so funny, however, when you read about women having to bury their starving children in Kenya. That article quotes a statistic of how much food we could give every man, woman, and child on the planet. 2,720 kilocalories per person per day*. That's more than enough food. That's enough food to make everyone in the world fat
, for crying out loud! To give you a point of reference, when my doctor asked me to drop a few pounds in order to decrease my blood pressure, she told me that I should aim for between 1200 and 1300 calories a day on days that I don't work out, and 1500-1600 per day on days that I do work out. Men need something like 1800-2000 per day minimum, I believe. That's all.
So we produce a lot of extra.
And don't get me started on the fact that we had way more empty homes during the housing crisis than we had homeless, at least in the US. When I went to research the numbers, I found too many conflicting numbers to really feel confident posting any of them as definite. However, the National Coalition for the Homeless (which I was referred to by hud.gov, so I count them as reasonably trustworthy) puts the number between 800,000 and 1.6 million. Let's take the middle-ish number. A million people in shelters, using soup kitchens, making use of support systems available to them. That doesn't count the ones that sleep in a grate, or freeze to death. That doesn't count the ones that had to move back in with their parents, or stay with friends, and that doesn't count people living in their cars. RealtyTrac, a site that lists foreclosed properties, gives the statistic of just over 1.6 million foreclosed properties listed on their site. We have enough empty homes to house most, if not all, of our homeless.
We are the land of plenty with a disappearing middle class. How does that even work?
If you don't believe food and shelter are basic human rights, I challenge you, yes you, the Elliquiy member reading this post, to explain to me why. I'm not talking even about the healthcare debate, or whether we should be providing money to welfare queens or whatever
your pet peeve is with socialized society (because everyone has one). I'm not talking about helping those 'in need', because it's ludicrous to talk about people 'in need' when it comes to food and shelter. We're all
'in need' when it comes to food and shelter. We cannot survive without it. I believe that food and shelter are human rights, and if you disagree with me, I would like you to explain why letting other human beings go hungry and homeless is an acceptable thing. If not, well, then you can ignore this paragraph.
If I sound angry, it's because I am. We are in a position that we shouldn't even be in. This is
the future. Shouldn't we be past struggling with basic human rights and working
on flying cars, at least?
* It should be noted that the 'calories' we see on nutrition labels and whatnot are nutritive calories, which are actually kilocalories. The scientific definition of a calorie as a unit of measurement is the amount of energy needed to raise a gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. Nutritive calories are 1000 times this amount, but still called calories. Modern science has moved to joules rather than calories, so when you hear someone talking about a 'calorie' or a 'kilocalorie', you can assume that they are both that thing that the FDA assumes you get about 2,000 of per day. Unless you're in a physics class, in which case you should raise your hand and ask the professor why they are not using SI units for their fucking energy.