Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas and Global Equality

It’s almost Christmas – the season of the three ‘G’s. No, not Goodwill, Giving and Generosity, silly. I mean: Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.

Christmas is the perfect time to contemplate our pleasantly plump, overfed posteriors and our “I’m the centre of the freakin’ universe” mentality. It’s a plastic world baby. The card is god. All that we are and can ever hope to be is measured by how much we owe and how much stuff we got. And lard tunderin’ jeesis by’, we got a lot.

We are the safest, richest, most comfortable, well fed society in the history of mankind. We are also the most wasteful, self absorbed, superficial and valueless society in history. No one has ever had so much (or appreciated it less). The more we get, the more we want. Gimme, gimme, gimme. And yet, as we sip our Timmys, eat our chicken wings and watch our DVDs on our flat screens, there are billions of people in the world who have virtually nothing. They live from day to day, illiterate, eking out a living anyway they can, dying of disease, and basically living the same miserable lives my ancestors did a thousand years ago under feudal rule.

And by George, never doubt it, everything we have, everything that is important to us, depends on keeping those wretches right where they are, wallowing in poverty.

It’s the terrible truth no one dares utter. Sure, we all feel sympathy for the billions suffering in Africa, India, Asia, South America and the Middle East. We feel the knots in our stomach when we see the World Vision infomercials or see pictures of a famine ridden African village. Sometimes we even give a little bit. Maybe not much, but every little bit helps. And after all, money doesn’t grow on trees. I don’t know about you, but the dinner out, the four DVDs and the new ink cartridge for the digital photo printer pretty well tapped me out for this week.

But still, despite our scepticism and self absorbed materialism, somewhere inside, we all care. We would have to be totally soulless not to care at all (My apologies to you atheists out there. I’m sure you care too. Even if you are merely empty, barren, soulless husks whose lives have absolutely no meaning whatsoever.) Many of us would love to see every starving person have a bowl of rice, piece of meat and litre of clean water a day. And that could probably be accomplished with a little cooperation between governments, NGO's, corporations, businesses and individuals. But I wonder how many of us have actually contemplated what the total effect would be on our planet if everyone in the world had the same standard of living as us here in Canada.

We eat a lot of seafood. I don’t know about you but as I write this I have a nice bag of shrimp, an Orange Roughy fillet, a pound or two of smelt and a nice piece of Chilean sea bass in my freezer at home. (Sorry about the bass. It’s endangered, I know. But, hey, I like bass.) Last week I had a nice order of Halibut and chips at the local fish and chips place. I would suspect many Canadians eat as much if not more seafood than me. I also have fresh vegetables, fruit, canned goods and different types of meat in the house. Tell me, what do you think would happen if every single one of the 6.4 billion people on this planet sat down to the same meals as my family does in a nicely furnished, heated and air conditioned home, with full cupboards and fridge, several closets full of clothes and footwear, a car or two in the driveway and every other accoutrement of modern life.

I’ll tell you what would happen.

The oceans would be depleted of any edible life forms. The world’s oil and natural gas supplies would be gone in a matter of years. Much of the world's arable land would be over cultivated, depleted of nutrients and useless. Many trees would be cut down to build housing and furniture. With fewer trees, oxygen would be less plentiful. And, with a couple billion new cars and houses using copious amounts of fuel and electricity, the ozone layer would burn off and melting glaciers would flood the earth. The cockroaches would dance a jig on our corpses.

However, in the years leading up to our deaths, there'd be lots of stuff for us to do and many challenges to overcome as we introduce our greedy values and high standard of living to the rest of the world.

The number of industrial farms that would be needed to provide all the people of Asia, India and Africa with the same amount per capita of beef, pork and chicken as we eat here in Canada would be astronomical. What would these trillions upon trillions of animals be fed? What effect would the increased cow flatulence have on the atmosphere? Imagine how many cows would have to be raised and slaughtered to put a McDonalds in every village in the third world like we have in every town in Canada and America. Never mind "billions and billions sold". How about "quadrillions and quadrillions"? Imagine how many chickens would have to take a bath in boiling oil dressed in 11 different herbs and spices to satisfy the cravings of an entire planet for KFC. Imagine how many seven year olds would be forced into factory slavery in China to stock 10,000 new Walmarts worldwide.

It’s all fine and good to want everyone in the world to be as well fed and prosperous as we are. But once you get to thinking about it, you’ll realize that it just can’t be done. By all measures, in practical terms, it is clearly impossible.

We could, however, maybe, provide simple, adequate food, clothing and shelter for everyone if we really wanted to. And certainly this is an admirable goal. However, this is what we already do for our own poor here in Canada. And as we all know, whatever we do, it is never enough for those interest groups, leftist anarchists and compassionate socialists who continually petition to have those who make no contribution to society brought up to the same standard of living as those who do. And the same would occur with respect to foreign aid. Maybe we could provide every person in the third world with a basic standard of living. But as long as the evil, imperialist, white west continued to munch on lobster and filet mignon, watch widescreen TVs and drive nice cars, there would always be voices shouting about the perceived inequity and pleading that everyone in the world has the right to good steak, lobster, TV and their own cars. Either that, or no one does.

We need to face reality. To give us all the same living standards, we would have to climb down as many rungs on the standard-of-living ladder as the third world climbs up. We would have to give up a lot with respect to meals, belongings and comfort of life. There are some who would advocate, nay, demand, that we all make this tremendous sacrifice. To them I say, you first. After all, they eat sea food too.

The sad truth is that every underprivileged person in the world could never be brought up to the same level as the privileged. To do so, we would likely have to strip our planet until there was nothing left. Then we would all die. Sure, everyone on earth would have a nice car and a cool CD collection, but we would all still be dead nonetheless. And the extra-terrestrials who arrive here a thousand years from now would be able to identify the socialists by the smiles on their mummified faces - their dream of total equality finally fulfilled in the only way possible. After all, only in death can all people truly be equal.

Merry Christmas. Now go out and buy a homeless person a pack of smokes. Hell, make it a carton. It’s the least you can do.


Blogger RightGirl said...

You are a cold and heartless man. I knew there was something I adored about you!

Merry Christmas.


7:06 AM  

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