One of the reasons pollution has been able to become such a huge problem is that those creating the pollution are usually not the ones suffering its consequences. Let’s take the classical fictional example of a paper factory using a nearby river in which to dump its waste-material. The river-current drags these materials away from the paper factory and to a nearby town that uses the river water for drinking purposes. The paper factory might use the same river for drinking water for its employees or production processes, but it will use the water a bit higher up the river, at a point where the water is still clean. So – even though the factory is producing the waste material, dumping it in the river and so contaminating the quality of the water – it is not the factory itself/those working at the factory who feel and experience the consequences of polluting the river to get rid of its waste. Since the factory doesn’t feel the harm in what it’s doing, it won’t change what it’s doing, unless there are complaints from the villagers who DO experience the consequences of the river pollution and take action so that solutions can be implemented.
Now – a study was done by James K. Boyce, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, where he investigated the ‘distribution’ of air pollution. Most people have heard about distribution of income and wealth and how unequal it is. But what about air pollution – is everyone suffering to the same extent or are certain groups/categories of people more exposed – and why?
In an interview with the professor the following was discussed:
LP: Do patterns of inequality differ across the country? How can a person of color or a poor person avoid air pollution?
JKB: Avoiding industrial air pollution is difficult, particularly if you’re poor or a member of a racial or ethnic minority. That’s partly because of housing prices. It’s partly because of discrimination in housing and mortgage markets — the phenomenon of red-lining. And it’s also partly because of the tendency for firms to site polluting facilities in relatively low-income and relatively high-minority communities because they expect less political pushback.
Hmmm, that last statement is quite interesting, isn’t it? In the example of our paper factory we were giving the factory ‘the benefit of the doubt’ in saying that – they probably didn’t realize what they were doing within polluting the water of the river, because they weren’t experiencing the consequences of the polluted water. But this statement clearly shows that – polluting firms are not only aware that they are polluting, they are aware that it has negative consequences for others – and yet, so long as they think they can ‘get away with it’, they’ll still do it. And when can they get away with it? When those experiencing the negative outflows are unlikely to speak up or take action to hold the firm accountable.
Or maybe it doesn’t mean that at all. Perhaps – let us entertain this notion for a moment – perhaps people of color or poor people are less likely to initiate political push back because they just don’t mind the air pollution. Maybe they are the enlightened ones who realize that air pollution is really not a big deal and therefore simply don’t want to make a fuss when it isn’t necessary.
But then you get to the following part of the interview:
LP: What are some of the most concerning economic effects of industrial air pollution on communities?
JKB: Air pollution has adverse effects on people’s health, and that means that they have to spend more on healthcare and they miss more days of work, either because they themselves are too ill to go to work or because their kids are sick and they have to stay home and take care of them. It also has adverse effects on property values, which vary with the levels of air pollution in the community.
On top of those outcome effects, it also impacts equality of opportunity, particularly for children. Because communities that are heavily burdened with air pollution tend to have higher incidence and greater severity of childhood asthma, the kids miss more days of school, and partly because they’re missing school and perhaps partly because of the neurological impacts of air pollution on their young and developing cognitive function, there is an adverse effect on school performance.
If you believe, as I think most Americans believe, that every kid deserves an equal chance, that equality of opportunity for children is dear to our society for reasons of both equity and efficiency, then the impacts of disproportionate pollution burdens on the children in some communities – the fact that the playing field is tilted against them through no fault of their own – is a troubling feature of our environmental landscape.
That settles it then – air pollution is definitely a problem that impacts the lives of those who are most exposed to it in a harmful way. So, it’s highly unlikely that they don’t mind – it must be that there is a problem in their ability to voice themselves and push for solutions that would improve their standard of living. And that makes total sense. As we have argued before – political participation is currently a luxury that can only be afforded by those who have the money and the time to firstly educate themselves on what procedures are available to them to organize themselves, formulate complaints and propose solutions – and secondly, walk these procedures and taking action.
With the implementation of a Living Income Guaranteed, companies would no longer have the ability to get away with excessive air pollution in low-income or minority community areas. No matter how much one currently struggles to get by income-wise and no matter if one belongs to a ‘minority community’ – each one’s economic situation would be secured and therefore, each one’s political influence is guaranteed as well. Herein, we could make an end to the cycle of impairing opportunities of those who already have a harder time to make the best of the opportunities they do have. Because once one is caught up in the struggle to survive, one has no bargaining power – one becomes the equivalent of a ‘slave’ within a system where one’s long term benefits are sacrificed for the short term goals of having enough money to put food on the table and pay the bills. And this is known by firms who release excessive amounts of pollutants into the environment for which they do not want to take responsibility – and so they will callously ensure that the consequences they create are carried mostly by those who don’t have the luxury to put a stop to it.
So, is a Living Income Guaranteed ‘bad news’ for firms? No – not at all. The philosophy of the free market is based on the premise that off-setting individual interests can create the best outcome for everyone. Of course, interests that are not voiced have no power to off-set anything at all – which is precisely what we’re witnessing in the world today. A Living Income Guaranteed would ensure that all interests are considered and play a role within the creation of an optimal outcome. Air pollution is a great example herein, because, what is air pollution? It is a way in which the natural equilibrium is disturbed, which, as we are all too aware of, is having consequences on the larger natural systems that the air forms a part of. In essence, it is a form of poisoning the planet, the planet we all share.
We can try for a while to keep the effects of pollution isolated so that most, or at least the more affluent, in society don’t have to worry about it. But the planet is an interconnected system and eventually – as we’re noticing with global warming – the effects will reach everyone. So – implementing a Living Income Guaranteed is not only a matter of empowering those without means or voice to make a decent living for themselves in this world – it is a vital step to ensure that we create optimal outcomes for everyone, that cannot be achieved if not everyone is part of the discussion.
There is enough. This statement is crucial for the continuation of our species in the times ahead, where all we hear is that we do not have enough, not enough food, not enough money, not enough housing, but if one look behind who is in fact saying these statements, you will find the corporations who have a vested interest in us continuing to believe this and so live out this belief that there is not enough. The corporations who control now the resources, the private banks who control the money supply, and the governments that control our livelihoods all have a stake within making a lot of profit, while we continue to believe that ‘there is not enough.’ So we cannot accept and allow any longer this notion that there is not enough resources or food or money in this world, we have to educate ourselves on the reality of what is here and how to walk the path to understand and so live the statement that There IS enough!
We know that money is made out of thin air, there is no value inherently within the paper it’s made from, it’s simply a medium for commerce, and within this we the people give it meaning. So saying there is not enough money is a scapegoat for admitting to the fact that some want more than others, and will do what it takes to make this continue to happen as it is and has been a reality for most of our recorded history. All are responsible within this ignorance we have accepted and allowed where some go with nothing and some go with enough, we all live here and so accept this money system as it is now, so we all have to face the consequences and change the outcomes to be best for all. It’s on each one being a part of this change because nothing will change until we stand up within ourselves and change who we are from within to the without.
If we look at food for instance, here are some statistics about hunger and
also statics on the food waste in the United States:
- Total number of children that die every year from hunger –
- Percent of world population considered to be starving –
- Time between deaths of people who die from hunger –
- Each year, about40 percent of all food in the United States goes uneaten. It’s just tossed out or left to rot. And that’s a fairly large waste of resources. All that freshwater and land, all that fertilizer and energy — for nothing. By one recent estimate, Americans are squandering the equivalent of $165 billion each year by rubbishing so much food.
- Time between deaths of people who die from hunger –
So we have 33 percent of the world population that is considered starving and we have on the other extreme 40 percent of the food in America is thrown away due to not being processed effectively or not reaching the desired aesthetic picture the shoppers demand for. This seems like a sick joke we are playing on ourselves, I mean this doesn’t make any rational sense to allow such a play out of life and death to exist, but it does, it is happening every day.
What we fail to see or realize within the system we live in is that we are more and more interconnected and so dependent on each other to continue to exist. When we allow such a contrast of basic needs where some have a lot and many others have little to nothing, we have to stop and consider what we are in fact doing here. There has to be a point in each one’s life where we have to question the way things are. This is determined and will be determined by each one within themselves and so will determine their own lives and existence, but it’s suggested to find solutions for all human beings to be given the necessary basic rights that we all are given at birth, the conditions for a decent life.
The Equal Life Foundation of which I support and contribute to with research and funding, have proposed a Living Income Guarantee, They have set out the basic structure for a new way of life for everyone, where those that require it will be given a living income to be able to buy what is needed and be sustained in a dignified way through changing parts of the current system that is currently in place. This will be walked as we start to open up the relationships and pathways once there is more support and funding involved, but we are not there yet. We have to start from the ground up as we see, realize, and understand that starting from the top down will not change things as this is the way it’s always been, and there has been no significant change in human life in the last 2000 years. We as the people that can hear the message and see that the way forward is a way of walking the talk and living the solution as ourselves, can move to positions and solutions that will continue to propel this best for all principle forward and walk what is necessary in all avenues until it is eventually done. Never giving up, continuing to push forward, empowering ourselves and so others as we move forward.
We do have enough on this planet, so this is not the problem as the Earth has given all the resources/sustenance/common sense to walk the best for all principle for each one to equally benefit from this reality. If we start with a living income, to create a standard of living that gives all dignity then we can also start looking at how and through what means we can change the way we do things to create efficiency and sustainability, we can start the path of honoring life and not wasting and destroying it due to our own ignorance.
Support the Equal Life Foundation and the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal to start and create the change that is needed to live the principle of ‘best for all life’, which will always be best for you.
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For Further Support, Please check out Links:
- Living Income Guaranteed Website
- Living Income Guaranteed Proposal
- Equal Life Foundation
- Equal Life Foundation Blog
- Living Income’s YouTube Channel