"Follow the money and you'll find the culprit."
If you've read even a few detective books, then you've probably come across those words or something similar. It's basically a truism. If something is fishy in the state of Denmark then follow the money and you'll figure out who is to blame.
Well something is wrong with the world.
The whole world, not just one country, one state, one rogue monarchy. The stench of a rotting moral compass sickens the air across all continents, covering the oceans, and the ice caps.
Some of us are asleep.
Some of us are exhausted.
Some of us have lost all perspective.
And some of us are just downright impoverished.
Let's go back for a second.
Around 70,000 years ago humans emerged. What we see as humans today. The Homo Sapiens. A latin word which ironically means Wise Man. Homo Sapiens emerged from Africa and began their travels across the planet, slowly but surely inhabiting every hospitable corner of the earth. Only the deep ocean and the highest of peaks were safe from the invasion of the homo sapiens.
9000 years ago a complex society might have had 1000 members.
Today we are interconnected globally by an economic and political system that keeps the majority of humans impoverished. Intentionally. Because to have cheap goods, to have outrageous profits, you have to exploit your workers. To have an inequitable distribution of all the money in the world, you HAVE TO keep your labour costs low, low, low.
Labour cost is a fun term for how much you're going to pay people.
It's easier to talk about labour cost then it is to talk about living wages. Poverty. Exploitation. You're not going to say that you need to exploit the people making your products more. You're not going to say you need to drain them of every ounce of energy and life.
You're going to say that you need to reduce labour costs further.
And then you will go ahead and drain them of every ounce of energy and life they have and in exchange you will give them a sum of money so small that they will barely be able to support themselves and their families.
This is not human.
This may be the norm today. But it wasn't the norm in the past. It hasn't been the norm for all that long.
The precursor to humans, our strange and ancient ancestors, Homo Erectus, roamed the earth over 1.8 million years ago.
As far as we know, they were hunter gatherers, who likely behave more like regular sane animals, and less like the completely insane modern humans who seem to be in constant competition. There were no massive civilizations, and no supreme leaders.
The concept of being a supreme leader didn't seem to emerge until as recent as 7000 years ago.
And that can't really be confirmed. Settlements in what is now Romania and the Ukraine had as many as 45,000 inhabitants. Or so it is postulated. Whether these settlements were ruled by a supreme leader is probably impossible to say. They weren't doing royal portraits at the time. Or if they were, there aren't any examples remaining.
My point is that if you feel anxious, if you feel depressed, if you feel invisible, you're not losing your mind.
You're experiencing a side effect of a global system designed, specifically, to keep the money, and thus the power, in the hands of a few people.
Most of whom are men.
As of 2017, there appear to be only 1,542 billionaires.
They hold 50.1% of the world's wealth i.e. money and land and businesses and investments.
But don't think its just the billionaires that hold the wealth.
It's also the regular rich people. Those folks with millions but not billions in assets. And the regular old middle class.
As of 2017 there were 35,000,000 millionaires.
That's about the population of Canada. In a world of over 7 billion people, there are only 35 million people with over a million in assets. That's less than 1%.
It's 0.7% to be exact.
These millionaires possess 46% of the world's wealth.
Let me put it in even clearer terms, 70% of the world's labour force, controls only 2.7% of the world's wealth.
The labour force is the leverage that the wealthy need to keep making and controlling resources and money.
Let's get some perspective.
In 2015, you only needed a bit over $3000 USD to be considered part of the top 50% of wealth holders in the world. Just over $68,000 put you in the top 10 percent of wealthy people in the world. And around $750,000 (or the cost of a Vancouver condo) meant you were in the top 1% of the world's wealthiest citizens.
But because in wealthy countries we "regular folk" live side-by-side with the super wealthy, we lose perspective really really fast.
When I lived in Ecuador, seeing wealth was not the norm. There weren't big name brands everywhere. There weren't fancy cars on every street corner. My hot water barely worked for five years. I lived in a 150 square foot apartment, with no central heating, unfinished concrete walls and floors, and I owned 3 pairs of pants.
I experienced zero social anxiety.
Because there wasn't anything particularly "amazing" to compare yourself to.
My biggest issues were getting mugged or trying to avoid getting mugged and pick pocketed, and the fact that I couldn't walk around alone at night. And these were pretty clear cut issues with pretty clear cut solutions. Thus, no anxiety. Just occasional fear.
The wealthiest people I encountered in Ecuador lived like regular middle class people live in North America.
They didn't have mega mansions. They didn't have 25 cars. They usually owned a practical vehicle of some sort. And they really didn't dress that much better than anyone else.
Which isn't to say that there isn't a wealth gap in Ecuador.
There is. But the gap is less noticeable, because most people live with less. And their version of wealthy is so toned down relative to what I see every single day in Vancouver that their versions of wealthy just seemed like moderately better, not insanely outrageously better.
The point I want to make with this is that our version of an economic crisis is a joke compared to what exists in the rest of the world.
It's easy to get caught up in what we don't have and forget what we do have.
We have clean drinking water. Yes, okay, maybe there's too much chlorine in it. But you're not going to get malaria or dysentery if you have a glass of tap water. We have safe neighbourhoods. We have reliable food sources.
We have heated homes. We have wardrobes with way more clothes than we actually need. We have technology that does menial activities like washing our clothes for us.
This isn't to say that everyone with clean drinking water and a safe home should feel guilty.
But it is to say that we need to remind ourselves that we live in wealthy countries, and that much of our wealth came at the cost of underpaid labour forces in much less wealthy countries.
Based on probabilities, if you're reading this you're probably someone's leverage.
You're working to make someone else wealthy. Every day. Your labour creates profit for someone else. You are part of the system that creates inequality.
So how do you RESIST?
How do we all resist?
How can we peacefully revolt against a system that is inhumane?
That treats people like expendable resources? Where humans are of no more intrinsic value than a Duracell battery?
I think there are a few ways.
This is just a list of possibilities.
You don't have to do any of these things. Or you could do one. Or you could come up with something different. Or better. But we've got to do SOMETHING. Because otherwise we're just letting it happen. We're throwing in the towel and saying it's okay. And it it's not.
1. Take care of your health like it's a prized possession.
Most of the things you're addicted to are making a bunch of people really rich. You get sick. They get rich. You get more sick. They get more rich.
2. Find a job that you love where you feel fulfilled and bring your full self to it.
Nothing will make you feel more enslaved than working a job you hate.
3. Become an entrepreneur or business-owner or freelancer.
You can change the world by making work that you care about. By not being a cog in a machine you are rebelling against the status quo.
4. Give money to causes you believe in.
Your dollars can in fact change lives.
5. Stop complaining, and do something.
If something really pisses you off, find a way to create change. Even the tiniest of tiny changes.
6. Learn SOMETHING about economics and invest your money.
If you hold a share in the global economy, in some way, you can participate in the re-distribution of wealth.
7. Live BELOW your means.
Sure you could buy more stuff, and waste more resources, or you could save them. And look, if you really want to live above your means then spend your money on food and art.
These are just some ideas.
The actual scope of saving humanity from itself feels beyond my comprehension. The system we're engaged with right now is convoluted.
I don't really know how we tear it down and build a new one.
I just know that everything we do in life has a global effect. We're inextricably connected to every other creature and life force on the planet, including each other.
Only by extending our humanity, rejecting greed, and trying our hardest to stay reasonably present will we manage to create lasting change and creep closer and closer to the end of inequality.