The Inevitable

“Man can and must prevent the tragedy of famine in the future instead of merely trying with pious regret to salvage the human wreckage of the famine, as he has so often done in the past. We will be guilty of criminal negligence, without extenuation, if we permit future famines.” – Normal Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Lecture

What things are inevitable? Some technologies might be inevitable but they may also be difficult to see from a distance in time. Some events might also be inevitable and they may also be difficult or impossible to see coming. But some are not impossible to see coming. Some inevitable we can predict and if they are positive things, we should consider how to advance their arrival.

I want to look at a few things that were achieved that seemed impossible at one time but later became inevitable and finally happened. I want to use those past occurrences to consider what future things might be inevitable, and what we can do to accelerate their coming.

The two things that I want to highlight that happened in history are the moon landings and the eradication of smallpox. How incredible are those 2 things? How often does the normal person think about them? I suspect not very often. I only think about the moon landings a lot recently in light of the recent explosion in popularity in space stuff. I am looking to them for inspiration for what I believe to be an inevitable occurrence, the landing of a human being on Mars during my lifetime.

The eradication of smallpox from the world is another incredible achievement. I suspect before the first vaccine was discovered there was little realistic thought about eradicating a disease. The average person probably didn’t really think that there was a way to beat smallpox or any other disease. They probably hoped and prayed they didn’t get it and that was that. Now that we have eradicated smallpox and rinderpest (I’d never heard of it either) and almost eradicated polio, what is next?

I propose that we should fight the easiest to eradicate problems, those problems for which we already have a cure. Problems we don’t have to invent new cures to fight. The easiest is hunger. You and I are probably not hungry. We have plenty of food available to us down the street but many places don’t.

We often think of Africa when we think of third world countries. We see videos of people starving and are asked to send money to help. It’s good to help those types of things and the claims are true. The people need help. But what is the right type of help? We could send food aid but as the old saying goes “Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.” I am a fan of organizations like One Acre Fund which works with farmers in Africa to provide them with high yield seeds and planting techniques to increase the yields of their small farms (usually less than one acre) from less than enough to feed a family to enough that they are able to save some for their families as well as produce some food to sell at a market.

I believe it is inevitable that one day there will be no hungry people in the world. We already produce enough food that we could feed everyone in the world if it was distributed evenly. Unfortunately, it is not. Some people have access to $300 meals every night. Some people live on $300 a year.

I hate making comments about “the rich”. Many have accumulated their wealth through creating products, businesses and jobs which provide for the people that buy the products and livelihoods for the people who work  in their businesses.

I also don’t like to criticize people who save for retirement. It’s great to save for retirement, usually through investments in businesses, via the stock market, or by starting your own business.

I am trying to think about how to encourage the average person to think about the people who are in dire need more. I have read a number of books that I believe will bring a sense of urgency related to helping others to anyone who reads them.

The Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty – Peter Singer

Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty  –  (Audible) Roger Thurow, Scott Kilman

Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth – R. Buckminster Fuller

Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help  –  (Audible) Larissa MacFarquhar

Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least  –  Jessica Jackley

I hope after reading this you will be encouraged to learn more about the hungry of the world and how we might be able to help them.

There are many thoughts on why people are hungry and I am never focused enough to talk about just one. I always try to encompass every reason and contingency and consider if I’m wrong. This often leads to inaction and I hope that I can work on myself to be more willing to invest in ways that I think will lead to the reduction and eventual elimination of starvation in our world.
You may want to read this article that will get you thinking about some big issues related to hunger that you might not have considered yet.

10 of the Most Common Ways World Hunger Is Misunderstood Could the way people think about hunger be the greatest obstacle to ending it?
There is also a book (which i haven’t read yet) that is related to the list above.

First World Problems

“My question to Bernie Sanders supporters: When someone in Bangladesh observes your lifestyle, it seems as incredible to them as that of the 1% seems to you. Why are they not entitled to help themselves to your things, the way you consider yourself morally entitled to help yourself to the goods of the American rich? In your answer, avoid moral irrelevancies like national borders; can we tolerate inequality just because it’s cross-border?
Extra credit: Take a picture of yourself divesting yourself of most of your goods in the name of global equality.” – Tom Woods

“It is utterly clear to me that the highest priority need of world society at the present moment is a realistic economic accounting system which will rectify, for instance, such nonsense as the fact that a top toolmaker in India, the highest paid of all craftsmen, gets only as much per month for his work in India as he could earn per day for the same work if he were employed in Detroit, Michigan.” – Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth – Buckminster Fuller

“You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one!” – Nix (Tomorrowland)

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is about “Our jobs going overseas.” This frustrates me to no end. The facts are if your job is exportable then you do not own the job. Who does your check come from? If you are not the owner/operator of the company, you haven’t created your job. If you didn’t create the job then it is not yours to complain that it is leaving. Complaining about things like that show a small view, not a world view.

People who complain about “their jobs” leaving are also probably the same people who complain about paying taxes and complain excessively about whichever political group that opposes their group. They are also likely people who complain excessively about not having enough money, because they are complainers. These types of people will complain about literally anything that comes their way. They are complainers, not doers.

The funny thing about these people is that they will make a big point about “buying American” verbally but if you look around their house I bet most of the stuff is NOT made in America. They will complain that it’s too hard to check everything they buy. I would say if they took all the time they spent complaining about it and took some action to fix it, they wouldn’t have the “problem” as they see it.

The facts are that exporting of jobs allows us to have the material wealth we do. We don’t look at the harsh conditions in other countries. We are totally inwardly focused. If you are reading this your life must be pretty damn good. You have access to internet which means that you likely have access to running water and readily available food. You are also likely covered by some type of health insurance. Perhaps it’s a little expensive. Perhaps you can’t even afford a new Cadillac because you are paying to much for health insurance. That sounds tough. The fact is you aren’t likely dying from one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases or goiters.

If we are going to really waste our time being outrage about something it should be the fact that people are dying in other parts of the world while we drive Cadillacs to get our $5 lattes and complain that we have “high taxes” while watching football every Sunday.

On a more positive note according to  Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth in 2001 1.1 billion of 6.1 billion (18%) people lived in extreme poverty whereas in 1981 1.5 billion of 4.4 billion (34%) people in the world were in extreme poverty. The positive note here is that there are fewer people in poverty now and the percent is also lower.

I see poverty as the biggest problem in the world because of all the things that derive from it. Setting a strict definition of poverty is tough but determining the effects of poverty is not as difficult.

The worst poverty is poverty of the mind, which is what I would say people who complain about “our jobs being shipped overseas” suffer from. To assume a victim mentality will assure that you stay in your current position. The poorest of the poor also suffer from poverty of the mind, but this is because of a lack of access to mentally stimulating materials as well as their focus on surviving! It’s hard to plan for your future when you are starving.

While we are debating our higher taxes or the “crazy” gun laws we feel the government is trying to put on us, we are neglecting the the 21,000-50,000 people who die each day due to starvation in the world. That’s 3x-6x as many as die in the USA each day from all causes!

So that’s my rant for the day #FirstWorldProblems