Why free access?
Updated: 21 May 2008, 22:27
Originally written: 30 October 2005
When you become hungry, is it because you have money burning a hole in your pocket?
When you become ill, is it because you have an uncontrollable desire to pay for medical care?
Those questions sound ridiculous, because they are ridiculous. And it is also ridiculous that a hungry person can be denied food because she has no money. It is ridiculous that a sick person can be denied necessary care because he has no money. Our needs are not caused by money. We all have those needs because we are human. But our ability to satisfy our needs depends on our ability to get money to pay.
In Canada these problems are masked somewhat by the so-called “social safety net.” But all that does is mask the problem, and perhaps slightly reduce the suffering of the poorest. It does not eliminate the problem. Children still go to bed, and to school, hungry. Working people often go to work when they are sick — even contagious — because they cannot afford to lose a day’s pay. Some do not get their teeth repaired because they do not have enough money. Some do not follow doctor’s orders to rest after an injury because they know they will lose their jobs if they take time off work. Even if they would not lose their jobs, they could not afford to lose weeks or months of pay. So they work in pain, and sometimes a curable injury becomes permanent.
It is ridiculous that in a world which could easily satisfy our needs, people go hungry and do not receive proper health care. This ridiculous poverty amidst plenty condemns capitalism. The ability to eliminate poverty has existed for many years. If capitalism could have ended poverty, it would have done so long ago. But it cannot. Capitalism cannot solve the problems for which it has already generated solutions. Capitalism’s progressive phase has passed. Capitalism should get out of the way so that we can use the solutions it generated. But capitalism does not have the grace and dignity to make way for progress. So we must push it out of the way.
No previous social organization has bowed out willingly, so this is no surprise. The primary beneficiaries of capitalism certainly do not want to see it go. The bootlicking apologists for capitalism are not likely to support real progress. So we must use democratic force to put capitalism down for the count.
Free access to the goods and services we produce is the next progressive social organization. In a society of free access, we will take the goods and services we need, from whatever is produced. The necessary corollary is that we will freely produce the goods and services we need.
That may sound bizarre to us now, but it is much more reasonable than poverty. Today, we all know that nothing is free. There is always a price. We also know that money does not grow on trees — nobody is giving it away. So we submit ourselves to a life sentence of working in often boring, useless jobs to earn our breakfast.
Some of us have jobs we enjoy. We do not choose the jobs just because the money is good, because sometimes it is not all that good. We choose the jobs because we really enjoy what we do. Most of us are good at some useful activity, and when we do a job well, we enjoy having accomplished something, and produced something useful or beautiful.
When we do not have to kowtow to the bottom line, most jobs which need to be done will be enjoyable. Many jobs today are a waste of our human intellect, creativity, and productivity. But capitalism needs those jobs. Nobody else needs them, except for the fact we are forced into employment to put food on the table.
In a society of free access, we will not need cashiers, because we will not need money. The entire money industry, including banking and insurance, will disappear. The police will not be needed to stop us from stealing, because there will be no need to steal — we will have free access to what today might be stolen. The military will be a thing of the past because there will be no ownership and profits to protect from others. The elimination of money-work will free up huge numbers of people to do useful work.
Instead of a society in which we have to invent hobbies, we will have productive activities which satisfy our needs and the needs of others. Work is a part of human existence. If humans do not work we die of starvation. In a free access society we will have useful work in pleasant working conditions. Rather than giving up part of our lives to work to make others rich, an integral part of our lives will be producing goods and services to satisfy our needs and our neighbours’ needs.
Free access is the world of the future, but we will all miss out if you do not make your stand now, and commit to building the society you deserve. Your children may miss out if you wait (forever) to build the free access future. And their children, and theirs. And building a free access future — making it a free access present — is not all that difficult. All the tools are waiting. We just have to pick them up and use them.