Wednesday, 22 June 2016

If I Ruled the World

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Well, that should have put the fear of something into you, I reckon. 

It's a common fantasy we all have, what would we do if we were in charge? What if the entire world sat in the palms of our hands. What choices would we make, how would change things? 

Is it possible to rule without becoming a despicable tyrant?

I can only talk for myself, so I'll admit that on the last point, I'm taking tyranny as a given, no matter how uncomfortable I am with the idea (for one thing I'm having a Helicarrier as my palace, so when my vizier inevitably betrays me, it's a long way down). 

Let's pull out the next thing (having declared my plan for a floating HQ I shan't bother going into more detail, you minions can work out how to make it happen), issues. What would I focus on under my despotic reign? To me, the current issues that rather desperately need our attention are, wage inequality, citizen inequality (by which I mean gender, sexuality, disability, that sort of thing), environmental issues (because it would be nice to have a world for all the equality to happen in rather than a large ocean), education, the economy... um actually pretty much everything. 

How depressing... maybe you should have the job after all (but I'm keeping the Helicarrier). 

More seriously (if I get this deal there's no way I'm giving it up), there are some pretty easy steps we can take to start sorting out the mess. So my first tyrannical act would be to make companies publish their wages bills, broken down properly, and to encourage some sort of genuine competition I would start breaking up the big companies, forcing the six corporations that more or less own everything else to divest their holdings. In addition, I would outlaw Greenwashing, the process of pretending to do something eco-friendly when actually you're just moving something unsavoury off the books. Take palm oil plantations, for example. I believe a number of the companies that use palm oil in their products have made public announcements that they will stop owning plantations (which adversely affect orangutangs). But ten will get you twenty that palm oil's still in their products, otherwise, they would be risking financial ruin as cakes, bread, and biscuits spoil super fast if it's not present. So, what gives? Either they've found a work around or someone is still producing palm oil and they're buying it. That means that either a new subsidiary has been spun out of their parent company, one we don't know about yet and which will be bulletproof for some time, or the company has sold the plantation to locals and is buying up the stock, probably much cheaper than if they made it themselves. 

This has been one of the consequences of neo-liberalism (which you'll recall those Communists at the IMF have published a damning report on), where labour has become so cheap that it's almost negligible. That doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon, and in fact with the rise of self driving vehicles and iPad wait service, it seems likely that jobs for humans will start to dwindle. So, in addition to the points I've made above I now have to get humanity (as a whole) to retrain, to specialise in research, in science, in the arts. And I don't mean one or the other, I mean holistically to the extent that as the idea of doing the same job all week goes the way of the job for life, for all but the smallest number of people, children leaving school (and adults) can earn a living even if that means playing saxophone on a street corner one day, and piloting a water taxi the next. I sincerely believe that this will be our next challenge as a species. Automation is all very well, but it won't put money in people's pockets, and people with nothing to do can be destructive. Like it or not, we need activity. So, part of my education 'reforms' (can you institute reforms at gun point, I wonder?) would be to introduce a worldwide curriculum where everyone gained performing skills as well as analytical ones.

Ecologically, we're on the brink and I doubt we have the will to change that unless some sort of tyranny is imposed (sorry). For a start, let's get rid of car engines that do more than 70 miles an hour. I suspect we could take the speed down, to be honest, but let's be kind and assume that some vehicles need to travel that fast. This would be good for humans too, preventing accidents and air quality. With scientists also working on fuel efficiency so that every drop of fuel (let's switch all cars to ethanol while we're at it, it works in Brazil) goes to work, I figure we could start to fix some of the issues drawn up from the rise of car culture (but I'm not a scientist so I can't say for sure - memo to self, create a special class of minion for science work). 

Bear in mind, that the limits set on temperature rises at Paris in December are already in danger of being broken, and that the climate change deniers are a small but very vocal group. Our psychology as a species doesn't really allow us to focus on the issue either, it happens too slowly, which makes me think we won't take it seriously until it's too late.

Onto other forms of equality... well let's just say that all the silly rules that create exceptions for people... are gone. Everyone is equal and can do the same things. Special provisions would be put in place to support people from minorities, and women (because it feels weird to describe women as a minority given that they form more than half the global population). Steps would be made to educate and improve the lot of women, on a global level if only because we have evidence that things get better when women control their own lives, rather than being chattels. This would have a knock on effect of helping men because we aren't really that good at controlling things and our egos get in the way. At the same time, steps would be made to eliminate problems for disabled people and to make sure they can live their lives freely and equally.

That's it (for now), and I'm sure many of you are appalled if only by the lack of sharks with lasers mounted on their heads and overly complex death traps. I'm sure that my Ministry of Evil Dictator Toys will whip something up, just for you.... 

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