The division between people in our country has grown wider in the past several years. Division between the rich and the poor, whites and minorities, religious and non-religious, gays and heterosexuals, and the list goes on. Beliefs can be so entrenched that we tend to discredit those who believe otherwise. When Mary and I moved onto our land we discovered our neighbors to be to the right of center while we lean more towards the social democratic viewpoint. Between neighbors our political views have a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon. As we got to know each other we began talking and talked about anything other than politics as our friendships began to grow. Eventually we reached the inevitable and began discussing our political views. Our voices would rise and in my case my arms and hands would move while I jumped up and down top make my point. After the discussions we laughed and enjoyed our friendship as neighbors. Mary and I enjoy our low cost lifestyle; however without our neighbor’s help we could not have been as successful as we have been. Whenever we need a hand, they are there, both in encouragement or help. As one of our neighbors always brings up, “who’d of thought I’d be friends with social democrats.” We all can identify the problems; however we seem to come to quite different conclusions on how to solve them. I admit I love reading opinions and data supporting my views and offer one side in my writings. All I can say is, here I go again.
According to Branco Milanovic (for more information about Milanovic and poverty – Economy Part 4 – paragraph 9) it is almost impossible for someone in a poor country to access the resources needed for what we, in our culture, consider to be an average standard of living. Branco’s studies have shown that this is a major driving force behind the increasing numbers of people trying to migrate to wealthier countries. Our global culture is experiencing a smaller and smaller percentage of the population having a greater and greater access to resources, while the majority’s access to resources has diminished. If for any number of reasons (for more information – Economy Part1,History of the Yurt-Chapter 8, Intro to Throughput, or Throughput: An Illustration, ) the flow of resources is disrupted to developed nations the social fabric starts to break down and migration increases. For the first time in history, we have the chance to change the paradigm to include everyone. When one is born poor, unless they are somehow lucky, they have no choice but to live a poverty lifestyle. Those with wealth can choose what kind of lifestyle to live. In other words, a person of wealth could choose between a lavish or a simple lifestyle. Their wealth can be used to hire others that know how to build a low throughput lifestyle such as; living in a simple house surrounded by edible forest gardens (more info), learning how to travel by bicycle, using public transportation and walking. The wealth can go towards schools that teach students math, language arts, science and other subjects through the knowledge of healing the Earth. Yes, we now have the choice to do these kinds of things with our wealth.
These concepts, these ways of meshing with nature cannot be mandated. Laws are passed to prevent pollution, however most of these laws have just enabled us to change the pollution to a different form so we cannot see it and we think it just went away. In 1970 the Clean Air Act was passed to clean up the pollution around the industrial areas. Companies were forced to raise their smokestacks and decrease the pollution and the air quality around these areas drastically improved, however due to the high smokestacks acid rain was sent afar killing life in ponds and lakes. Additionally, the scrubbers used required many resources and energy and they added nitric, nitrous and sulfuric acids which were released into the atmosphere. In the case of the sulfuric acid, the slurry left over in a typical coal burning power plant, is calcium sulfate amounting to approximately one ton per person using the electricity and this is considered waste and is dumped into landfills. When we talk about all of these pollution decreasing devices I rarely hear of the loss of habitat or pollution developed from the factories built to produce the devices. Suppose all the human energy that had been spent in figuring out how to clean up the pollution locally instead went to developing a low throughput quality lifestyle. People would learn skills and habits that, instead of hiding the pollution would move towards eliminating it. If we had adopted these principles our society would be in a different place right now.
Arguing over pollution divides people. We all are responsible for where we are by following a paradigm that was developed when the global population was low and resources were plenty. Through individual choices we can change this dynamic. This is a continuous process which begins with the realization that the culture has to change drastically and culture can only change when people change. Instituting laws can have a positive effect as can making the change through education. Having the ability to make the change through independent choice is more satisfying and rewarding as each individual knows exactly why they are making the change. The person who chooses to walk this path enjoys the changes and loves the challenge. This is in contraste to being forced to make the change through laws and economic conditions. When choosing such a life a person develops skills to meet the future and is not so blindsided when an event happens. What a difference.