Monday, December 15, 2008

The Root of All Evil?


Towards the end of the '70s and early '80s I begin to be preoccupied with the problem of justice and injustice. I begin to realize that there could be no justice in this world with the working people being exploited. They were getting meager earnings, while their exploiters are enjoying the benefits of their hard labor.

I also begun to observe that most times, tensions between couples and families is due to lack of spending money. Money to buy food, to pay for the house rent, mortgage, to pay for school tuition, to pay hospital and doctor's bills, etc. Of course, money is not the solution to man's problems - but it is a start. And what's wrong with earning as one needs to earn? What's wrong with earning enough to sustain oneself and one's family? What's wrong with earning enough to not just have all the basic necessities of life - but all the comforts in life?

Then, I begun to ponder... why do man need to earn what he is supposed to have as a right? Doesn't he have the right to have a roof over his head? the right to sustenance? the right to the best health care? the best education? If these are his basic rights - then, why does he need to earn them? If these are his rights to have and enjoy, then, he should be able to get them if and when he wishes.

Then, I begun to remember how early man begun to domesticate plants and animals, and how they used the barter system* to exchange goods among them. Then, they used cattle as a form of money. In some societies, shells were used as money. Later, metal coins were minted - then, paper money were printed and used. Of course, now people get paid with e-money. I also, recall how before all this, when man relied on nature to provide for his daily sustenance, he did not need to barter; he did not need to pay with money - because everything is there for him to take and have - for free!

So, I speculated that maybe, just maybe, we are now about to come to a full circle; maybe the cycle is again here with us. Maybe, the time for the necessities of man to be free for his taking is again here. Although, instead of these necessities being provided for him by nature - this time these are going to be provided for him by man himself.

I concluded then, that the only way man can have true justice is by giving him economic freedom - when everything that up to now has to be bought and paid for by money or labor shall be available to him for free - meaning no need for payment, meaning no need for money.

As radical as it sounds, 30 years ago, I started dreaming of a time when all - not just education and universal health - but, all goods and services needed by man to live a life of comfort will be free.

I begun to imagine what could be a common scene in this just future.

Peter, a shoemaker is visiting his long time next-door neighbor and old friend, Paul - who is also a shoemaker. How are you? asks Peter. I am very good, Paul answers. How many pairs of shoes were you able to give away today? Peter asks. Paul responds: today is not as good as yesterday - I only gave away 7 pairs. How about you? Oh, I am totally happy today, Peter says, I gave away 12 pairs of shoes today. You should have seen the wide-open eyes of the little girl when I gave her her first ballet shoes.

Peter waited for Paul to close shop and the two walk to their favorite café to have their espressos - and talk about the "good old days".


I understand that I do not know anything about money, this present economic and the banking system (what I do know is that most of the time I do not have money; that this economic system sucks; and banks will only lend money to people who already have money), but anyway, this is my hope and vision for the near future - that the day will come when man will benefit and enjoy the fruits of his being a human being, and if only for this reason - his being human.


*Even today, there are still societies that uses the barter system. Sometime ago, I was in the Cordillera Mountains in Northern Luzon. I was with an author to photograph baskets weaved by the natives of this place. We went to a house to see one of the better known basket weaver in the area. He was busy finishing a most beautiful basket that he said he has been weaving for the past week. André, the author asked him if he would like to sell it to us. He said that he is weaving this one for somebody in the closest town. He will travel to this town by walking for 4 days going - to exchange his basket with cooking oil and salt - and come back walking for another 4 days. By the way, the old man is 73 years old!