• Getting Started

    If you’re just getting oriented to The Big Problem, here are four basic facts and some useful resources.

    • Every year 60 million people die – all causes, all countries, all classes in total. One third – about 20 million – will die before their time because of poverty.
    • Nearly all of those poverty deaths can be prevented by basic infrastructure like biosand filters, rocket stoves, composting toilets and so on.
    • We have less than 100 years of forest left, never mind global warming, increasing pollution and hyper-consumption. Supporting 1.5 billion middle class people is nearly killing the planet, never mind trying to find the resources for 7 billion. This gap is culturally forbidden to discuss.
    • The west is bankrupt because as the rest of the world recovers from colonial oppression, they flex their muscles, increase political pressure, and push for a more equal world – making us poorer. Rather than getting poorer gracefully, we have been borrowing at a national and individual level to make up the gap. We are running out of people to borrow from.

    Resources you might find useful.

    I hope you will find this useful. You can find out more about me.

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    7 Responses to Getting Started

    1. Pingback: An evening with TEDxOrenda… « Patrick's Blog

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    3. payjustice
      February 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      “The west is bankrupt because as the rest of the world recovers from colonial oppression, they flex their muscles, increase political pressure, and push for a more equal world – making us poorer. Rather than getting poorer gracefully, we have been borrowing at a national and individual level to make up the gap. We are running out of people to borrow from.”

      I find this bit you wrote confusing …and extremely distressing if you mean what it sounds like you mean.

      Surely you are not suggesting that greater equality in the world makes a poorer world?? Please clarify? Do you believe that re-adjusticing the currently extremely maldistributed material wealth in this world would actually make everyone poorer??

    4. February 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      No, what I mean is that in a fairer world, the West will get poorer. In fact, logically, everybody with a standard of living higher than the global average will get poorer, and the global average is somewhere around Mexico. This is ignoring all the nonlinearities and lumpiness of reality, of course, we can’t just do this and have it work or you lose things like chip manufacturing in the process, and we all slide backwards. That’s a real risk too!

      This is why we’re politically paralyzed in the West – real rational fairness results in an emotionally unacceptable conclusion.

    5. payjustice
      February 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks for replying, Mr. Gupta – I do so appreciate it. But…I have to respectfully disagree. I don’t think it’s a logical conclusion that the West would be made poorer by greatest possible equality, I think the evidence clearly proves the opposite case is true, the West would grow richer – and I don’t just mean richer in one way, I mean we would net gain in prosperity, quality of life, happiness, safety, security, leisure/family time, freedom, peace, liberty, health, democracy, fraternity, education, job satisfaction, ability to save for retirement, lower costs, less waste, environmental restoration, sustainability increasing all the time – all the good stuff you can name!

      I think we’re well into a self-defeating error when we fail to make the vital distinction between the top wealthiest 1% in the West – and everybody below them. Surely the term ‘the West’ should apply to the 99% majority, right?

      Please, Sir – have you ever seen the 3 minutes long L-curve animated on youtube? May I please beg the favor of your having a look, if you’ve not seen it? It’s not the entire Western world, but it’s a vivid illumination of the case in USAmerica:


      When we use an average, the average serves to obscure just how extremely over-fortunated the richest are, skewing the real picture, doesn’t it? If you laid that right-most needle-like part of the graph flat, the average would be much, much higher, wouldn’t it?

      Also, are we forgetting, or at least vastly underestimating the total costs of allowing economic inequality? Doesn’t that have to factor into the equation? Isn’t every family in the West laying out enormous sums to pay all the costs of all the fraud and corruption going on in banking, business, and government (a government that has been devoured by superwealth), don’t we pay the pricetag for all those ever- “advanced” war toys, for rebuilding what gets destroyed, for hospital rooms and beds for veterans – aren’t we all having to pay for all the direct and the knock-on costs of all the crime and violence that springs from poverty and deprivation, we’re paying through the nose to have private bankers lend us our own money at interest, we pay for all the bureaucracy erected to try to deal with the consequences of having extremes in pay – I could go on and on listing myriad costs of inequality…

      Have you read “The Spirit Level”, Mr. Gupta? And the studies that show the highest-paid jobs are actually extractive from the economy and the lowest-paid give multiples of their salaries back to the economy? Have you ever seen a very short story by Mark Twain called “Archimedes”?

      I don’t understand the thinking that anybody has to give away their rightful earnings in order to make our money work for commerce. I don’t understand why we would lose things like chip manufacturing. If the wealth were spread as evenly as the work is spread, wouldn’t people still be combining their money to do, make, produce, provide the things society wants?

      And anyway there is this point: what is the justification for making one person who is working average hard, using whatever level of giftedness he won in the birth lottery to do whatever specialized job he does that contributes to the economy – what justifies making him take underpay for his work so that somebody else working the same can be given overpay?

      What I’m getting at is 2 things: 1 is I think people who are trying to sell the world on greater equality have a far better product than they’re advertising – I think they are mis-thinking they are and/or should be trying to sell self-sacrifice to people, when equality actually makes everyone richer (it makes 99% richer in money and 100% richer in happiness and safety, etc.), furthermore I think we could learn from history by now that heaping great piles of wealth on people is a very cruel thing to do. The other thing is I think we’re still in denial that everything in life is connected (the 7 billion people who are not you are your environment) and we’re just filling our environment with ever-escalating injustice pollution until we see that the only thing that is justice is equal pay for equal sacrifice to work. I maintain that replacing overpay-underpay – which is overpower-underpower – with fairpay justice is not only NOT a cost to us, it is vast riches, and it is the non-negotiable price of human survival.

      Injustice drives violence. We’re stealing money off the bottom and funneling it to those who are already reaping what they never sowed. Every theft comes with an angry person attached. Billions being robbed is quite a powderkeg.

      Seems to me our geno-sadistic overpay-underpay ratio is killing us all and this planet when we could with a little clear thinking about work and wealth be having a picnic. I think we are children playing matches next to a leaking petrol pump. It seems quite possible to me that the sum total of all human intelligence right down through the ages is about to prove to have been as useful to us as stupidity would have been in its place. Methinks the Era of the Stars is a terrible thing to waste on allowing a diabolically stupid, merely traditional, unexamined, illogical, unnecessary, unjust, self-harming ratio to be marching us to auto-extinction.

      Any thoughts you have for me would be greatly appreciated, Mr. Gupta.

    6. November 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Hi, Vinay,

      Long time no type. About infrastructure:

      1. Do you have an updated list of the various devices you recommend?
      2. The link above to the blip.tv clip is broken


    7. December 9, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Ha! Found list of latest devices in the description of your Maker Faire talk:

      Rohan jacket
      Biolite stove + kettlepot
      Spectra / Dyneema rope
      Orikaso cups
      Led Lenser P5 LED light
      GoalZero USB LED light
      Anker USB battery

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