2019 registered the highest share of people dissatisfied with democracy in modern times: 57.5%. Why? I think that one of the main reasons is that democratic governments do not deliver. In 2021, many people still go hungry and unsupported even in extremely wealthy countries. This is a shame and must be changed.
So what would be the priority of an Equitist state to invert this trend and ensure citizens feel supported and included? We all know that public finances do not always allow for all services we wish for to be granted to citizens, especially in low to middle-income countries. So, when budget constraints hit, where should we place our bets? Let's problem-solve together on which basic services should never be denied by an Equitist state!
BASIC SERVICES: THE UNMISSABLE RED LINE
Governments should see as part of their core mission the humongous task to satisfy all - or at least most - of their citizens' needs. Their ability to achieve this result should be directly correlated with the amount of public finances the government can dispose of. However, this is not the case. The political and cultural framework of each country influences significantly the services provided to its citizens. For instance, free health care is not available to US citizens, despite the country ranking #1 per GDP globally, but it is to Namibians, placing only 125th in the same ranking. Insane right?
Given the state of the world, we should really start from the basics. Free, quality healthcare and education are paramount to an equitable world. Without the first, people cannot be free, and without the latter, people will never break free. It's an absolute necessity for states to divert the “lion's share” of their resources in creating and developing a health system that most citizens would trust above private providers and an education system that private providers strive to imitate. Once a state gets these two levers right and continues to upgrade them, its path toward the future is safe and sound.
What comes closely after? Mobility and security, as if one does not have access to mobility, they cannot fully partake in society and grow through exchanges. Mobility without security is like a building without foundations: it cannot hold. Hence, an Equitist state will focus its effort on building and expanding public transportations - with the ultimate goal of making them free, where budget allows - and keeping its streets, workplaces, schools, religious centers, cyberspace, and bedrooms safe for all. To do so, police and surveillance cannot be the answer: violence is first tackled in the education system, then by stigmatizing corrupt and discriminatory behaviors, then by supporting those in difficulties and providing a path to reinsertion to those that made mistakes, and only then by deploying a properly trained police force. Remove one of these elements, and the rim between security forces and community can only widen.
However, neither education, healthcare, mobility, nor security can adequately answer the needs of citizens if the load-bearing stone of an equitist society is not in place: the complete reduction of poverty (i.e., lack of food and housing) and economic direness. Yes, it's not a dream to erase poverty worldwide: in a previous newsletter, I wrote how according to the UN, just a share of Elon Musk's wealth would be enough to quell global hunger. And yes, it's also not a dream to slowly cancel economic direness as human societies grow more affluent: policies such as Universal Basic Income have been piloted in Canada, India, Kenya, Germany, Italy with excellent results. This policy alone (and many more are available to tackle poverty) would spare thousands of people from sleeping in the streets or not having enough food for their children, even in incredibly wealthy countries. Is it acceptable that in 2021 almost a fifth of UK homes with children go hungry in lockdown while the government spends around $90mln for the royal family only? No, it's not. Poverty and economic direness must be eradicated for a society to become an equitist one.
"Ok, but where do we get the money?" you may ask. Well, I ain't here to draw wish lists: there are plenty of ways to find money to do better across these areas, even in the direst situation. First and foremost, tackle corruption: worldwide, it sucks $2.6 trillion or 5% of global GDP. While canceling corruption is tough, there are many best practices to improve the situation that most countries are far away from implementing: this is a huge shame. Second, cut unnecessary spending: while country by country, the case may vary, I am confident to bet that one cost item can diminish across the board, military spending. Looking at the top 15 countries for military expenditures worldwide, only two are openly involved in conflicts. A significant share of this group rarely deploys its military, depends on its protection from other countries, and it's not a threat by any hostile military force. Ironically, the biggest threat they have upon their sovereignty it's the new economic colonialism that powers like China excerpt in the form of loans or investments!
Last but not least, create resources: taxing wealth accumulation & multinationals would provide enough cash flows to address many problems of our societies. I already deep-dived on this in another newsletter.
An Equitist state will have its priority clear and change the face of our societies.
THE READERS' CORNER
While the team and I continue to produce content for the upcoming Equitist Manifesto (here is a short draft), you can send some comments over, but also much more. Check below some interesting ways you can help in making the world a more equitable place.
- Interesting sources: check out where UBI has been trialed around the world!
- Join the team: become a member or a volunteer at Atlas to support the creation of our vision. For example, our Policy, Campaign, or Communication Teams would be glad to have your support to tackle societal discrimination: join us, and our Community Team will guide you to the right people ;)
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Sorry for the long read. This is not rocket science, but I am still surprised about how many governments just ignore these fundamental needs... Let's not do the same mistakes!
We'll change the world!
Andrea Venzon (he/him)
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👉 The content of this email is part of the work to create the Equitist Manifesto. Here you can find the structure we want to follow, and previous issues are available here!