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View Diary: What's a Human Being "Worth"? The Moral and Economic Crisis of the 21st Century (192 comments)

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  •  Somewhere, Malthus smiles (7+ / 0-)

    He clearly has his followers.  It's becoming increasingly hard to argue that the moral arc of universe bends towards justice these days.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 08:26:58 AM PST

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    •  Increasingly indeed. I'm beginning to believe (9+ / 0-)

      that "the moral arc of the universe bending towards justice" was a brief 100-120 years or so after open ("free") lands and fossil fuels brought about increased economic prosperity which the wealthy could "afford" to share at all levels.

      That lent the perception of "bending towards justice," but there is simply no guarantee of that continuing.  The problem with perceptions is that a person is enveloped in cultural, economic, social and political views of the time.

      Witnessing wealth spread via "free land" (thank you American Indians), large markets, copious supplies of energy and raw materials while living in a democratic republic might lead one to have the perception of "bending towards justice."

      But we live in quite different times.  Raw materials are increasingly in short supply and environmental devastation is vast in order to obtain them.  Energy supplies are increasingly expensive to recover (deep sea oil, for example, although natural gas fracking is relatively cheap as long as everyone agrees to forget about the externalities). Land is no longer free to every settler who wants some. Jobs themselves are vanishing.

      We differ in vast ways from the days when it seemed "the arc of the universe bends towards justice." It's become a trite slogan to plaster in the White House while its occupant is engaged in bending the other direction.

      In the 1970s, there were many books and speeches about the population boom, coming shortages of raw materials, energy and food. Republicans liked to laugh at those ideas through the 1980s and 1990s, even into the 2000s.  But here we are.  

      The earth is a finite resource. A system like capitalism, which depends on perpetual growth, is unsustainable. Economic theory and faulty accounting will eventually run into the rock hard wall of reality. And when it does, the weather is apt to be fairly stifling.

      All this condensed down to a few words: If robots have all the jobs, who can buy whatever 1%-owned robots produce?

      Guillotine! makes an appearance at that stage. And perhaps before. Seven billion people won't vanish without horrific battles.

      The arc of the universe, forever it seems to me, has bent toward chaos.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 09:07:40 AM PST

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