The definition of post-scarcity is thus: post-scarcity is a hypothetical economy in which most goods can be produced in great abundance with minimal human labor needed. The misconception is that this concept is a fantasy when in reality the material conditions necessary for this type of society already exist.
For example, we have an extreme overabundance of housing. If every homeless person in the United States were given an equal portion of the current number of unoccupied houses, they would each receive five houses, with 1.4 million houses left over. This is all based on data provided by the U.S. census. Luckily, we can easily feed all these homeless people, because we already produce enough food to feed 10 billion people, 2.5 billion more people than the current population. If we changed our habits to be less meat oriented, this number could as much as double. This is done at an extremely low labor cost. The United States, one of the leading producers of food, has only two percent of people working in agriculture.
We could power these farms without significant effort, so long as we build the right sort of infrastructure. Only 0.6 percent of American land would need to be covered in solar panels to power the entire United States. While the initial cost would be high, the benefit would be the entire end of fossil fuels in the U.S., creating a large number of jobs and infrastructure. The U.S., contrary to popular belief, is still the biggest manufacturing power in the world. We accomplish this status with only 12 percent of our country working in the manufacturing industry.
Water is incredibly cheap as well. While this varies depending on where one lives, the price of a gallon of tap water is only $0.004 on average and is already something most people can consume without even thinking about. This is something to be incredibly optimistic about, because all this exists without an organized group attempting to make it happen. If our government, who spends more on healthcare than any other country can find ways to rationalize and better prioritize our spending, we could provide everyone with the means to meet the basic standards of living.
We need to stop discussing post-scarcity like it is a pipe dream. Currently, within the realm of modern political discussions, it is. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. Global warming, income inequality, economic recessions, et cetera are only going to get worse from this point forward. The United States has the necessary resources to eliminate hunger and homelessness, and if we rethink the structure of our capitalist society, anything is possible.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. A version of this appeared in the Monday, Sep. 11 print edition. Email Dylan Smith at [email protected]