Public Enemy Number 1
As much as I would like to say that slavery is the biggest problem facing the world today, I will have to identify scarcity as the number one problem in the world. I have a few reasons for this.
Scarcity drives inequality, which drives most of the other problems we have. When I envision a world without slavery, I see a world much better than it is now, but not without problems. Without scarcity, slavery, and every other problem in the world, would dry up over night.
Scarcity encompasses more than what you might think. I’m not just talking about poverty or hunger, I’m talking about economic scarcity. Scarcity is created when the aggregate amount of something that people want exceeds the amount that is available. This makes it so that even when there is enough of something to meet everyone’s needs, people aren’t satisfied. Scarcity of substance leads to hunger, malnutrition, insufficient medicine, disproportionately allocated material comforts, warfare over resources, and many other issues. Scarcity of teachers limits opportunities for education. Scarcity of doctors limits the amount of health care people can receive. Scarcity of good farmland leads mothers to sell some of their children to traffickers in an attempt to save the rest.
Scarcity of power leads people to belittle or destroy others in order to obtain or keep what they can get. Scarcity of recognition causes people to act in deviant ways for attention, cheat for glory, or alter metrics for success instead of increasing capacity and effort to achieve success. Scarcity of qualified potential mates gets people to do all sorts of crazy things when confronted with a well qualified candidate, or competition for the candidate.
Scarcity is nearly impossible to solve too. To eliminate scarcity, we must not only produce enough to meet everyone’s needs, but alter everyone’s wants. There is no possible way to meet everyone’s wants with the way people seem to be wired; even when people have enough they’ll want more, often times simply to have more than another person. If everyone wants to have more than someone else, we find ourselves in an infinite loop where obtaining true abundance is impossible.
So there we have the rat race that we’re in. Scarcity motivating us to increase our ability to improve which in turn increases our expectations and perpetuates the scarcity. Unless we can find a way to make everyone satisfied by having their needs met while staying motivated to produce at high levels, we will perpetuate our system of scarcity.