Exploiting People – We Are Not a Commodity
Has our society become so obsessed with economic growth that people have become a commodity? Two items in my morning newspaper strongly suggest the answer to be an emphatic, shameful YES.
The first is a national story about how smuggling people across the Mexico/U.S. border has become a billion dollar business. The AP story reports on “a clandestine business worth billions a year, people packed tighter than cattle and transported like consumer goods in tractor trailers to the United States.” The U.N. estimates this to be a $6.6 billion business.
The second is a local editorial lamenting census reports that fewer Coloradoans are families with children. The rant warns of the “dangers of population decline,” that “we cannot sustain the economy…when old, non-working Americans – dependent on pensions and government subsidies – outnumber people of working age.” It advises we are in for “a future of poverty and despair,” if we don’t either get busy making babies or importing children. I kid you not! The headline reads, “We Must Produce or Import Children.”
These sad, but true pieces of modern Americana from today’s paper reveal that the bean counters have won. People are now little more than a commodity, an asset on the balance sheet to be bought, sold, exported, and imported. The value of a human life is now counted by its contribution to an economy. Of course we’ve been seeing the signs of this for quite some time, but today’s local editorial just begged me to shine a bright spotlight.
If it weren’t potentially so tragic, it would be pretty funny. The writer actually had the temerity to pen, “a minority cannot provide adequately for a majority, any more than a pyramid can balance upside down.” He is apparently not ashamed he is defending a (right side up) pyramid scheme. The author clearly disregards the fact that a pyramid scheme, unlike a diamond, is not forever.
The editorial completely ignores what other headlines this week have trumpeted: populations are starving, oceans are dying, rivers and aquifers are drying up. But God forbid we interrupt our scheme of Ponzi demography and let the rate of population growth – whether it be global, national or local- decline.
Growth-pushers frequently use the pension/social security population Ponzi scheme to defend and encourage population growth. And while they are correct in identifying one of the difficulties inherent in achieving a sustainable population, their analysis is grossly slanted and incomplete. They blow the problem out of proportion, ignore some smart solutions, and jump on the easiest but most deadly solution of adding more players to the bottom of the pyramid.
My local paper’s editorial opinionator could just be an uninformed hack. Or perhaps he’d rather hang on to his readership the easy way – by trucking new subscribers into town when the labor and delivery rooms aren’t meeting their quotas, rather than the more difficult way – writing informed, enlightened, thoughtful pieces more of us will want to read. It’s hard to say.
For now, let me just offer an alternative view. People are not financial assets. We are not drones to be exploited in service to corporate profits or government tax coffers. We are not products to be produced or imported.
Continued population/consumption overshoot will result in very serious resource shortages (it is already happening). Adjusting to the relatively minor challenges of ending an unsustainable population/economic Ponzi scheme is much preferred over dooming our children to a life of hunger and misery. Unless you’re a soul-less growth-pusher counting dollars, a good life for fewer is better than a crappy life for more.
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