My cousin just shared this on
(If you load it too many times, it'll throw up a paywall.)
Billions of potatoes, no place to put them.
What is missing from the picture?
Similar volumes of lettuce, cabbage, wheat, rice, corn, soybeans, ..., beef, chicken, ...
All of this food must be moved from the source to some sort of consumer, or they will spoil. (Yes, with our current methods of production, we are going to have to slaughter a lot of meat that will not be going to the usual markets.)
Spoil? Is that so bad? Lakes of vodka, whiskey, .... What can be bad about that?
If only the spoilage would be so tame.
Rats. Flies. Fleas.
How did this pandemic start?
Well, let's look at history for clues. Spanish flu? Going back even farther, the black death and the bubonic plague?
It's rather simple. (Yes, I'm repeating myself.) When you get too many people in one place without proper hygiene, with too much stress from overwork, in too close quarters with the cattle, various biologically active material brews up disease vectors. Then the vermin (Remember, everyone is too busy to be clean.) and cattle spread those vectors every direction they go.
Why do people live in such conditions? Because there's no room for them on the planet?
No, there is plenty of empty space on the planet, if we used it well. They are just too poor to go there, or their governments (or pseudo-governments) are too unwilling to let them go, or both.
... is also primarily a feature of large populations without sufficient material means, and many of the reasons for that are known.
And, as I say, overpopulation is more a problem of people in power being unwilling for the poor to go away, because they depend on the population of the poor to prop up their illusions of power.
We live in one of the most materially productive periods in history.
How productive are we?
Even without the problems of having no market to sell potatoes and other products, we, as a planetary society, dispose of enough product to feed all the poor people on the planet, and then some.
If I have not mistaken the math, even with about half our total population not being directly involved in producing the basic material necessities of food, clothing, shelter, and medicine, we are productive enough to feed, clothe, shelter, and medicate twice the current population, if we were only effective at distributing it all.
In spite of that level of productive, our leaders in the industries are still engaging us in a race to the bottom, still trying to raise production levels so that they can compete for even more power (as they imagine it).
If you think that your politics is clean from this, look again. Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, Communists, Socialists, everybody is in on it.
Why? politics requires power. Power requires profit. Profit is most easily generated in a hurry by a race to the bottom.
I commented earlier that the universal pseudo-quarantine had some good side effects, in terms of giving families time to get acquainted with one another again. It was a good thing, for a week -- or even a month. We could have recovered from it at that level.
Now farmers, who can least afford it, are paying from their own pockets to move the potatoes, not to the usual markets, but to anyone who will claim them. This is actually not a bad thing, if the lenders come to their senses and accept responsibility for creating the situation that requires this in the first place -- if they will simply accept the right and proper financial burden of their own fixation on hyper-competition.
How can we prevent the coming pandemic aftershocks? How can we stop the death toll at the current projection of 350,000?
Let's be serious.
The current supply chains are rather pathological. They rely on unbalance and excessive consumerism.
We are the most productive this planet has ever seen, but a huge piece of our production is wasted moving product halfway around the world. (Or farther. We are really, really inefficient.)
We are the most productive this planet has ever seen, but well more than half of us are suffering from lack of material necessities and, at the same time, suffering from overwork.
We are destroying enough product to provide for everyone on the planet, and yet we are still trying to find ways to work harder.
And we are squelching the planet's ability to be productive. See the lakes drying up, etc.
What is wrong with this picture?
Could we provide enough if we depended more on local production?
Would the current pandemic have spread so much if we weren't ordering things from all over the globe?
My current job is delivering things. If I have a symptom-less case of the 2019 version Coronavirus, I'm going to bring something like a hundred households a day into contact with the infection vectors.
After the first week, the universal pseudo-quarantine has actually been magnifying the epidemic.
Does this mean we should have lots of raves?
Does this mean we should give up the sudden shift to education methods that are more home-centered with on-line support and reporting?
Does this mean we should go back to sixty-hour work weeks? Or even forty, when twenty will do plenty?
Twenty hour work weeks would give us time to learn the things that will help us avoid the next pandemic, you know. From history.
Twenty hour work weeks would also give us time to learn about the traditions we have received from our ancestors, and honor our ancestors by learning to keep the good traditions and discard the bad ones.
Twenty hour work weeks would put less pressure on us to try to force ourselves and our families to conform to meaningless norms.
Twenty hour work weeks would give us time to work on the supposedly non-profitable problems, like reducing the negative ecological impact of our economic activities.
In the immediate cause, twenty hour work weeks would give us time to help farmers move excessive potatoes from the places where they are going to cause problems to places where they can be usefully and meaningfully consumed.
And twenty hour work-weeks would give us time to learn how to take care of the basics of nutrition and hygiene, the lack of which is one of the reasons the virus spreads so easily in the first place.
Twenty hour work weeks would give us more time to make life meaningful, and would still leave us producing enough for other people's needs.
How could this be done?
Speaking in the ideal, Bill Gates is easy to pick on. I'm not going to enumerate his sins here, but he clearly made excessive profits on his ephemeral products. He should not be "donating" hundreds of millions to charities (mostly profitable to himself). He should not have that money, period. And he should have gotten himself out of the way long ago, so more talented men of better vision than he could have advanced the information industry much, much farther along than it is today.
But Bill Gates is only one very prominent among many.
No one is justified in amassing more than enough to retire five times over. When you have that much, you should boot yourself out of the industry you made your money in and devote the rest of your life to service without remuneration.
That would leave men of better vision than you (because they are not buffered from their lacks by excessive money) to take the lead.