Could We Do More?

Like many other people, I watched some CNN for recent coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. One part stuck out in my mind, and that was when they were interviewing the Governor of Texas right after he had offered to move and shelter the refugees then in the Astrodome in Houston's Superdome. He also had offered hundreds of vehicles to help move them there. It was a generous offer, but it was only until the very last question that the subject of money was brought up. The reporter asked him: “And where will you get the money to pay for all this?” The Governor hesitated for a second, as if surprised or caught off-guard. He then responded reassuringly: “We'll get the funds somehow.”

Now there are many possible reasons for this reaction and answer, and perhaps I am being charitable myself in my interpretation, but it seemed to me as if he didn't really care about what money it would cost to get this thing done, only that it be done. He knew that the facilities and vehicles where there to be used, and for no more important purpose than this. I believe that he simply wanted this taken care of, and would deal with the financial end of it later. After all, isn't saving lives more important than mere money?

Now I could very easily be wrong here about him, and I am certainly not prone to giving politicians the benefit of the doubt when dealing with money. But if I am right, then I think that it demonstrates a very important fact that most people, regardless of having also watched the very same interview, have missed. What is that point? If you haven't figured it out already, I'll get to it in a second here.

Another thing I've noticed was that the Red Cross was launching their “biggest ever relief effort” in trying to get food, shelter, and medical aid to those in need in the affected areas. When asking for this aid, which of course they do a lot, they were very specific in their request. They said: “We don't need food, we don't need supplies. What we need is money. Money is the fastest way for you to help these people.” Isn't that interesting? What are the refugees and homeless going to do with money when they are stranded and hungry? But this is beside the point. What this says to me, is that there exists, somewhere in this great economy of ours, more than enough food, shelter, medical and other supplies for these people, and all the Red Cross needs to get it to them is money. Or, put another way, the Red Cross is not able to get these supplies to them without money. Until they do get that money, these supplies will be withheld from these people that are suffering, starving, and dying while they wait. Isn't this a tragedy in itself? It doesn't matter how generous in the end the people of America or elsewhere are, just the fact that they have to wait for it at all is a crime. These things are there, ready and waiting to be used by those who need it most. Why not get it too them as soon as possible? Would that not save lives? Would it not cut costs by not allowing people to get weak and ill while they wait for this money-system of ours to trickle these needs down to them? Would not everyone benefit from that?

But what else could be done? The people who currently have these supplies need to eat too, and need to be paid to do that. Is it fair that they suffer for these people arbitrarily while others, who own or produce nothing of value to the refugees, lose nothing?

If you know about how Technocracy works, you'd know that this would not have been a problem. The victims of any such catastrophe (should it have happened at all) would have had instant help, as a single, functional body of the Continental Control Board would have been able to instantly respond (if not adequately prepare) and give these people the required food, medical aid, transportation, and shelter they would have needed. So quick could be the response in such a scenario, that the people would likely have suffered any ill affects at all worse than wind-blown hair.

Also tragic was how some people refused to leave their homes because of all the time and money they had spent on them, it was all they had. Others stayed behind to care for their pets because they could not have brought them with them. In the Technate this again would not have been a problem, since people could move into quarters easily made identical to their previous ones, and not have to worry about having to spend “more” to get them. It would have simply been part of the overall cost of disaster relief for the entire nation, not much as a whole. Their pets too would have been transported first-class to their new homes where even they would notice hardly any difference.

This is to say nothing of how little such a disaster would have affected the urban areas of the Technate, called Urbanates, which could be built even with today's technology to withstand most, if not all, such storms. Or the fact that the Technate's Continental Research Sequence, unfettered by the constraints of financial budgets, political agendas, and a fractious, competing society would have had the resources to not only forecast such an event well in advance, but also perhaps even lessen its effects. Such techniques have already been in development for years by various agencies, including FEMA, who had, ten years ago, outlined specifications specifically for use in the lower United States for the manufacture of buildings capable of withstanding even a Force 3 hurricane. Obviously the resources of the Technate would surpass even that.

But this is all academic, isn't it? We do not live in a Technocracy, and even if most people knew about it while Katrina was advancing into the Gulf of Mexico from its brief visit to Florida, there would have been no time to install one. Such information is only helpful to future disasters, which I hope we learn to use. But the fact remains that none of this could have been used to help the victims of this catastrophe. Or could it?

Many decades ago during World War II, Technocracy put forth its prescription for war time and emergency measures. It was not so much Technocracy that it was proposing, or even a lesser version of it. It was simply a plan to use the resources of North America in the quickest, and most efficient way, to get the job done, which of course was and is to save lives. It was a temporary measure only, and it was called Total Conscription. Today, the word “conscription” tends to leave a bad taste in the mouths of most people, but in times of national tragedy such as this, does it not make sense for everyone to do their part to help out?

The plan called for the total conscription of men, material, machines, and money to be used to greatest effect to end or at least lessen the effects of a war or other national emergency, such as that suffered across three states recently. This does not mean that everyone would be joining the army, but all financial accounts and debts would be frozen, to be restored to their original values upon the end of the crisis. Every person would remain at their jobs, but their industry's work would be realigned to help deal with the disaster. In times of war, this could last for years, but far less than a war conducted in the same manner as in the past would, thus saving lives. For disasters such as Katrina, it is assured that had Total Conscription been invoked, that the people of New Orleans and other cities would have been evacuated to many safe parts of the country in good time, with minimal deaths or injuries. The biggest task after that would have been the rebuilding, which would take only a couple years with the entire nation working at the task. Once complete, the people of these areas could return to their homes, and begin their lives anew, as though nothing had been lost in the first place, for most things, such as homes, furniture, and businesses, will have been replaced. With Total Conscription then lifted, their bank accounts and jobs will be the same as before the disaster, and life could return to normal for the rest of the country as well. Without it, the rebuilding of these cities is in doubt, since already much debt has been accumulated in dealing with the disaster. Thousands of people are left with nothing, surviving only on the generosity of others, waiting for the “money” to find them, before getting what they need to survive. It is doubtful that without significant additional debt, that they all will.

But that too is academic at this point. All we can do is learn from this tragedy and prepare for the future. And what is this lesson? What was it that I saw first in that interview with the Texas Governor, and later in the requests for help by the Red Cross? It is this: That we have, on this continent, sufficient food, shelter, and medical supplies to help the victims of this and other disasters. All that is missing is an intelligent and responsive system that can get these supplies to where they are needed. Instead we continue to play this paper game of money and politics. And furthermore, that our productive capacity on this continent is such that every man, woman and child could have a significantly higher standard of living, one that would not need to worry about such disasters, or at the very least not nearly to the same extent as today. The only thing stopping us is our outmoded and antiquated system of commodity valuation designed for use with an agrarian age. It's time we realized what we as human beings are now capable of with the technology and resources we have, while we still have them. Technocracy has already done the research, all you have to do is investigate it for yourself. We don't have to suffer these tragedies any more, so why wait?

Bill DesJardins
September 14, 2005