Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Life communism

I am not a communist, God forbid, I don't really like the idea. I always though that if I gave a class of Economics to a communist, s/he'd change her/his mind - but I never got the chance. What I mean by Life Communism® is something quite different (I invented it so I put the little ® and nobody can steal it), it's about treating everybody the same when it comes to the basics of life.

Rich and poor have always existed and will continue to exist. Animals set their differences with their strength, we do it with money. It's just natural and it explains why the power is in the hands of the rich.

The unfairness is the following: the problems the rich face are not at all identical to the problems of the poor. In other words, the minority in power will hardly be able to find the most adequate solutions for the poor because they don't even know what the problem is.

Here's a small example. In Lebanon, the populace has access to electricity for about 10 - 15 hours a day; the rest of the power is provided by private generators which cost is determined by how many amperes one household registers for. And it's not cheap, thus many people end up without electricity or with just enough power for their fridge and a light because it is all they can afford. But do you think the elite cares? The politicians probably have 24hrs electricity at home and the rich can afford as many amperes as they like - it's as if they have electricity full time unlimited.

So do you think these guys know how annoying it is to limit oneself to a few lights? No they don't. They know the problem exists but with all their money, they have the power to avoid such a situation. Hence the guys in power have little incentive to fix the electricity problem in Lebanon, it becomes secondary, along with other issues.

When you need to fix a problem, you have to have suffered from it 1) to find the best solution and 2) to actually be incentivized to do it. So for the Lebanese to get 24/7 electricity, they have to bring their leaders and the elite to their level and show them how annoying it is be so limited in terms of electricity.

The Netherlands found a natural solution to their problem: all exposed to it. In 1953, there has been a disastrous flood across the country that left nearly 2'000 people dead. Who died? The rich and the poor altogether. Why? Because The Netherlands has no mountains or hills on which the rich can isolate themselves from the actual problems. Thus after this catastrophe, rich and poor worked together in building dams and dikes in order to avoid another disaster.

Do you think that the rich or the government would have financed such state-of-the-art protection if only the poor were affected? Well, maybe in The Netherlands because it is a First world country; but look at Haiti. When they had their floods, no one did anything because the rich of Haiti live up in the mountains surrounded by electric fences and CCTV cameras, isolated from the dying populace. They didn't suffer from the floods.

Having the money should not be an advantage when it comes to the basics of life because everybody needs to be treated fairly in these circumstances. Like for the life boats on the Titanic: rich first, poor later. I don't mind 1st class in an airplane, I don't mind if they get salmon and I get pork, I don't mind if they get champagne and me water - but I will mind if they are privileged in the case of a crash so that they get out alive and me dead (that won't happen on Easyjet though). In a perfect world, all the landscape would be flat and we would all have electricity. But we are naturally different and unequal, it is then left to our commonsense, which I don't trust. Money shouldn't buy everything; it can buy most things but not everything.

1 comment:

  1. How about electing more "poor people" into the government with better views about the issues? It's the voters' fault to keep electing rich losers!