Life as we knew it in 2022 is now radically different.
The food supply chain isn't what it used to be. Prices are now high and rising, despite the shortage of money to go around and the governments intervention into the grocery sector in the mid 20's. The cost of production, transportation and distribution, and climate change events have compounded to cause uncontrollable price increases. It turned out that fragmenting the market with a view to increasing competition was an own goal. The result was a weakened and less resilient service.
Generally available basic healthcare has degraded. The cost of hospital facilities has skyrocketed due to new build, maintenance and running cost escalation, including ongoing wage increase claims - amidst skilled-staff shortages and escalating demand from the aging population. The government and system are overwhelmed.
Only the rich can afford 2022 levels of basic care, while the super rich now have access to radical breakthrough treatments that extend life, enhance heath and well-being and overall life enjoyment.
The cost of energy has continued to rise, which is counter to the promises of the government made in the early 2020's. The rush to electrification outstripped the the development of supply, and rationing now regularly impacts industry and the public alike. Private transport is expensive. For the average person that electric car never became a reality, it remained a status symbol for the well healed.
The recession and inflation set the scene for job cuts - lots of them. Business and government keen to maintain margins and reputation followed the crowd into mass adoption of artificial intelligence and automation. What followed in 2023/24 was creation of the 'useless class' predicted by Yuval Noah Harari in his book, Sapiens. People that were once working productively in a variety of jobs were suddenly ejected as organisations downsized, outsourced, and generally reinvented
The government followed the lead of other countries providing universal basic income. With such little money to go around, those on small incomes make ends meet via a wide array of activities - many that go below the radar in terms of the law and taxation. Hardship causes some to become more cohesive as families and communities, while others splinter under pressure and eventually undermine societal harmony.
The rich have guards and security systems. Life is less safe and less fun now that the average person is worse off.
Is this what we want?
It may never happen and let's avoid it if we can. Why shouldn't we do better as a nation and within our communities?
Here in New Zealand all of us will know someone who is well off. We will know that they worked hard for what they have and many already do more than their fair share for charity. Their local community and for a range of good causes.
We do not have any easy answers. We can only try to raise awareness and encourage ourselves and others to reflect on and consider our own perspectives and how we live our lives.
Getting to the point where we live together well within the planetary boundaries will take some transition.
Keep reading the Edge as we work out how to do the best we can. If we don't want the above ending, then how might we start each new day?
This weeks quote
"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
T. S. Eliot
Grant Symons - The Transition Guy