If you are reading this, thank a capitalist. If you find an interesting article or photo and email it to a friend in Central or South America, Africa, India or China, thank an engineer.
Americans who keep up with the news should be aware that millions of impoverished, malnourished and sick people, scattered across the globe are slowly succumbing to political violence, neglect, starvation and disease. This in spite of trillions of dollars from Western nations earnestly trying to combat the reasons for it. Whether that is due to climate, kleptocratic government or lack of natural resources, the affected people are beyond despair.
Capitalists and preachers of technological innovation have spread out to the four corners of the earth with the message that everyone at this point in history has a chance to pull themselves out of poverty. All they need to do is stay where they are, make the most of it and the market economy will do the rest.
Capitalism and engineering have limits, though. They will not be helping people who live in frozen, desert of swampy wastelands. Not enough, anyway. One iPhone tells the inhabitants of forgotten backwaters that a better life exists just a few thousand miles away. Now, more than ever, these marginalized people are saying: “Enough! We must go to the West or die trying.” And many do die trying. Every day.
Their will to live dictates that dangerous journeys with uncertain outcomes are preferable to slow death in their home countries. And a wall constructed around every inch of Europe or the U.S. will not keep them out. Why? Because they want and need food, clean water and a dry, safe place to sleep. They won’t be coming for our shiny toys, our luxury vehicle or our second homes, they will be coming to find life — any life, so long as it is not defined by deprivation and hunger.
So really the big question is: Do the wealthy nations try to squeeze a few more decades of eat, drink and be merry out of the future? Or do we address the larger issue of how are we all going to survive? There are two choices: Realign human intelligence to focus on endeavors that work toward substantial all-encompassing solutions or stay the current course: distraction, denial and bunker building.