by Britta Hansen
Post-scarcity is a state in which all goods are available and free to everyone in abundandant quantities. Although this may be a distant utopian dream, it is nonetheless something that we should all be striving for. We should be trying to provide every human being with, at the very least, the basic amenities of life: potable water, nourishing food, adequate shelter, etc. No human should be forced to go without these things.
There are many difficulties in achieving this, but they aren’t so obvious.
The problem is not abundance; there is ample food and fresh drinking water to provide every person on the planet.1,2
The problem is not technology; we have every means necessary to extract and distribute all of the natural resources (including food, water, and energy) that are needed to provide humans with a minimal life.
The problem is economics.
Economics requires scarcity. Without scarcity, there would be no price system. If something is highly abundant and easy to access it would be free unless if an artificial scarcity is created.
In order to continue to profit off of these basic commodities, economics has created artificial scarcity.
HOW IS ARTIFICAL SCARCITY CREATED?
- Monopolies, by definition, do not allow exterior entities to sell or offer their products, thus giving them the power to underproduce for the sake of charging more and raising the value of their product.
For example: In 1997, the World Bank pressured the Bolivian government to privatize their water systems, or else they would not continue their loans. The president passed Law 2029 in order to ensure the legality of privatising water. Law 2029 left only half of the population connected to a water system. It gave the company Aguas del Tunari a monopoly over the country’s water. It became illegal for anyone other than Aguas del Tunari to distribute water; this included wells established in people’s homes. It even became illegal to collect rainwater. Aguas del Tunari’s monopoly made water even more scarce and unavailable to the people. In fact, it’s monopoly created a 2% increase in poverty. 8
- Cartels allow the few competing sellers of a product to collaborate and agree on a fixed price or total output, thereby controlling the output of a product for the purpose of profit.
- Surplus products can be destroyed or withheld in order to increase market value.
For example: Sales at grocers. In a flyer you might see a particular item on sale at the grocer’s, but when you get there there are none left on the shelves. Of course that doesn’t mean the store’s out, but they could purposefully keep a only few of the sale items out at all times in the hopes that consumers who can’t get what they came for will buy something else instead.
- Patents, copyrights and privatisation give exclusive rights to produce or distribute a product or asset, which thus limits the rights of individuals to share the product with those who cannot access it themselves.
- Planned obsolescence: manufacturers can ensure that their product will have a short lifespan. They may design something with the intent that it will break within a certain amount of time.
- Limited editions (also a form of planned obsolescence): By purposefully only fabricating a small quantity of a product, manufacturers create a sense of urgency to buy, used as a marketing gimmick.
So economics necessitates scarcity, and thus, even if we can eliminate famine, we don’t, because we insist on keeping our economic system. In fact, we worship economics. Somehow, this completely fabricated concept of price, supply and demand has become one of the fundamental pillars of our very lives.
Not only are there ample resources for food and water for all, we could also be providing everyone with basic health care, shelter, and an education. We’re not asking for anything fancy here, we’re just asking that people don’t be denied the right to live.
MAKING THE PUSH TOWARDS ENDING SCARCITY:
REDUCING POVERTY & INEQUALITY
Certainly, reducing poverty and inequality will make these essential commodities more accessible to everyone, although that is not enough on its own to end the scarcity of these basic amenities. We can make a significant impact in reducing poverty and inequality by:
- Creating more not-for-profit child care space
- Raising minimum wages to match living wages, and adjusting them to inflation.
- Restoring the corporate tax rate to 18%
- Opening more safe injection sites
- Abandoning the Indian Act and developing a new accord with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
- Adding protection from genetic discrimination to the Charter
- Eliminating patents from genes and life forms
POTABLE DRINKING WATER
There is no commodity more precious to life on Earth than water. Canada has more freshwater than any other country in the world and yet 1091 communities were under boil water advisories last year. 3 The vast majority were on native reserves.
It was recently revealed that still to this day, mercury pollution in the waters from 1970 continue to affect the residents of the First Nations’ community Grassy narrows 10.
We must add the right to potable drinking water to the Charter and we must invest in wastewater treatment plant upgrades. All Canadians should have free access to clean, safe water.
It goes without saying that food is essential to life and should be accessible to everyone.
Currently, healthy food is not accessible to all Canadians: more than 800,000 Canadian households are considered “food insecure”, and in March 2011 851,014 people used food banks – that’s 2.5% of the population! 4,9
“Any jurisdiction that doesn’t feed its people is at the mercy of whoever does.” Says Cathleen Kneen, a food-activist.
We must push for a national food strategy. A national food strategy will also alleviate the health care system, by improving the diets of Canadians. It will stab at monopolies and allow smaller farming families to make ends meet.
We must also change the way we think about agriculture:
Canada imports 53% of its vegetables and 82% of its fruits. For every apple we export we import five.
The Technocratic Party of Canada promotes intercropping, heirloom seeds and genetic diversity. We encourage food cooperatives to replace commercial grocers, in order to ensure local food grown by family farms can make it to Canadian tables.
Education is a right!
The average undergraduate student payed $5,138 in tuition in 2010-2011. 5 A large number of Canadian students have considered paying for their tuition and books by working in the sex trade. 6
We propose reducing tuition fees across the country, and we strongly support the hundreds of thousands of protesters in Montréal, who are demanding fair tuition and the right to assemble.
In Canada, the diagnosis is free, but the treatment is not – we pay for prescriptions, hospital beds, dentistry, glasses, menstrual products, ambulance services etc. 1 in 10 Canadians can’t afford their prescription medication.7 We can’t afford root canals and dental work.
We must push for pharmaceutical coverage, dental coverage and optometry. The Technocratic Party of Canada wishes to reduce the validity of patents on drugs from 20 years to just 5 years, thereby enabling us to distribute and produce prescription medication for as little as one tenth the current costs.
PENSION AND OLD AGE SECURITY
Sure, we can grant you the right to live, but for how long?
We are very concerned by the recent trend in Canadian pensions, which are making the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution. As markets falter, corporations are less and less willing to bear the risk of their investments on behalf of the employees. Defined contribution pensions are unfair, and are a step backwards for Canadian labour.
We propose changing our RRSP tax subsidies from deductions to credits, which will give every investor, regardless of income, the same rate of subsidy.
We also support the right for terminally ill patients to end their lives, with the assistance of a medical doctor.
Please support the right to an accessible, minimal standard of living. It’s not too much to ask for!
 http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/getmedia/dc2aa860-4c33-4929-ac36-fb5d40f0b7e7/HungerCount-2011.pdf.aspx Hunger Count 2011
 !Cochabamba! by Oscar Olivera, 2004