Disasters: Can we have a society organized around the needs of the people?

Hurricane Harvey.
Photo/Jill Carlson


In each weather catastrophe, tens of thousands of people, some risking their own lives, reach out to help one another in the face of government inaction. A Hurricane Harvey survivor denounced the paltry help from the government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross.

“They’re all up here lying to the people,” he said. “They’re not going to rebuild people’s homes. People need sheet rock. . . .There’s an 80-year-old man over here with his roof blown off, why not give him $5,000? Food prices, gas, are going up and people can’t get to their jobs. This is crazy. Make Home Depot and Lowe’s open the doors; donate to them and have them match every dime given. If someone needs sheet rock . . . let them have it. That’s how you can help people.”

This person is envisioning something new, an economic system where society’s abundance is distributed to all people, even if they don’t have money; a cooperative society where the government works for the people, not corporate profit. The reality is we can’t survive in this era of environmental catastrophes when the jobs that do exist pay so little and where robots are replacing us at the workplace.

Can we create a society where the industries that produce the sheet rock, housing stock, health care, and everything we need, are owned and run by the public? In such a society, the job of government would simply be to distribute what the robots produce to all of us based on our needs. We could work to rebuild our communities, solving everything from the destruction of the Earth to providing homes, healthcare, education and food to everyone.

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