Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash
So many Americans, and many of those living outside the US, think the United States represents the best humanity has to offer. I beg to differ. Since you’re reading this, maybe you feel somewhat similar.
I’ve known intuitively for many decades that the US is a mixed bag at best. Books like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States fleshed out those intuitions with alternative, illuminating historical perspectives.
I try to make time to read because I like it. If you agree with our premise here at Copiosis and you enjoy reading, I heartily recommend two books I recently read. One is Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America by Eyal Press.
As the title reveals, Press’ book talks about jobs people depend on that keep modern American society safe and fed. While doing that though, such jobs also extract horrendous tolls, tolls not just from people working them, but from society too. I hope, if you read this book, you’ll also get its subtler, more profound messages too.
We’re all morally culpable
That is that the problem isn’t these jobs. It’s not harm people working them face either. It’s an infrastructure and mindset shared by every American that makes such jobs not only essential, but dirty and dehumanizing.
Essentially the book says “These jobs are horrendous and it’s a tragedy the people working them are regularly tortured mentally and physically and far from view on purpose. But the real tragedy is every American plays a part torturing and injuring these people. People who often are immigrants, women, people of color, and low income.”
That’s a powerful message and why I’m so passionate about what we have cued up with Copiosis. Yes, our innovation solves problems this book describes as problematic, morally questionable work. Jobs such as drone operator/analyst, rendering plant line worker and prison guard roles create terrible mental and physical anguish. Yet they remain in high demand because poor people must work. That and consumers’ demands must be met at the lowest cost.
But our innovation also solves the underlying problem laid out in the book. The problem that keeps us all stuck in what all of us are culpable for creating.
Merit based need satisfaction
The seeming intractable need to keep people working such jobs, because such jobs keep prices low, isn’t as intractable as it seems. Prices for gas, food and other products people voraciously demand, aren’t sacrosanct. What we offer eliminates many basic assumptions. Assumptions as flawed as the basics the flawed assumptions support.
There’s no problem with voracious consumption. Satisfy that consumption with regenerative, net beneficial approaches and everyone wins. But when combined with additional imperatives human society got built on, including the idea that people are lazy, the future becomes plain.
The need to earn a living and the quest to free one’s self from that makes oppressing the “have nots” by the “haves” unavoidable. Everyone ultimately want’s to be a “have”. No matter how much a “have not” might argue, they wouldn’t turn down having more.
But the way we gain such freedom, through profit, which inherently means dictating other’s ability to earn, exacerbates both the need and problems Press’ book talks about.
Then, once someone gets free from earning a living, vilifying those who haven’t becomes easy. It almost becomes a sport.
Combine all that with the oxymoronic fallacy of “meritocratic virtue”. Then the mental state that pits one person against the other becomes semi-permanent.
That semi-permanence makes people think it’s the best humans can do. Which is why so many think capitalism is the best economic system ever. Leading people to parrot the misattributed quote “Capitalism is the worst economic system. Except for all the others”.
Starving – the only option?
I write “semi-permanent” because I know Copiosis represents an emulsion of sorts. It’s a solution which will dissolve that semi-permanent mental state. In its wake returns what most people intuitively know. We all know we’re all in this together. And we all live in abundance. So while we’re all the problem, we’re also all the solution.
The meritocratic values fallacy is something I explored while reading Michael J Sandel’s excellent book The Tyranny of Merit. Many Americans subscribe, either consciously or not so, to merit as a way of meting out both rewards and resources. The more you merit resources you consume, meritocracy says, the less problems people voice about you consuming them.
Earning a living is based on meritocratic belief. It’s the idea that, you merit what you consume by “virtue” of your willingness to trade your labor to get those things. But what if the one labor path available to you is something you don’t want to do? Must you starve?
I found Sandel’s book amplified many false conclusions I knew existing in arguments from those supporting meritocratic virtues. But the book also brought new perspectives. These perspectives convinced me even more of the value Copiosis offers.
Clean your own poop
One major problem Sandel identifies is the case of “meritocratic hubris”. It says people who “win” in meritocratic societies – the wealthy and the accomplished – in time believe their rewards came solely from their effort and ingenuity.
They forget the billions of people who came before them. People who contributed to society and therefore made their opportunities possible. Meritocratic hubris also makes invisible the millions of people living today who continue supporting these people. The rest of us as well.
By keeping the roads safe, keeping them working, upgrading them or adding more roads to facilitate future needs for example. They’re the people who clean mansions, build mansions, collect garbage and poop from mansions and process those things, so rich people (and the rest of us) don’t have to.
They create and deliver foods, clothes, and gadgets to stores where we buy them in convenient, climate controlled splendor, while giving no thought to how these goods got there.
If we all had to manage our poop, pee, garbage and food – without the help of millions who do nearly all that work for us, we’d hardly have time to do all that we do today. Throw in making our own electronic devices, including mining resources to make such things, and none of us would get very far. Including the meritocratic one percent.
I’m encouraged by what I read in these two books. They offer examples worth sharing in the future, when we’re talking about Copiosis to the media. And boy, I do get that in the near future, we’re going to talk to the media a lot. The general public too.
That’s because the media and the general public are going to either love or really hate what we offer. I know that based on media attention we got from our two small demonstration projects in 2016. Both sides will amplify, support and argue for our work.
So I see a time where I can use what I’ve read to show how Copiosis offers something way better than anything that came before it. What I read implicates all Americans (and humanity in general) for problems we thing “Those People” created. The good news: we also are the solution.
If you’re an avid reader, I recommend both Press’ and Sandel’s books. They offer rare insight to our current system. Few get to see them because we’re all so busy earning our living in the meritocracy many think is the best humanity has to offer.
The best humanity has to offer. Really? It’s not even close.