I believe you are worth it. I believe in your worth to society.
I believe you should have peace, food, shelter, safety, and the chance to work with your neighbors to build a harmonious society. These are not new ideas. I value the teachings of Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Buddha, and the human dignity of all the people who have come before us.
I am a poverty abolitionist.
I believe we must abolish poverty, as we abolished slavery.
I believe in your human dignity, and that your dignity is a part of my dignity. Computers and networks made us neighbors. You’re reading these thoughts, and we may never meet - these are the new ways.
Our ancestors lived in societies separated by violence, wealth, poverty, and class - these are the old ways. Theses arbitrary separations by heredity, race, and violence were intended to bring security, but they do not work anymore. Our nation revolted against colonialism. We abolished slavery. We abolished child labor. We reject totalitarianism, kleptocracy, corruption, and barbarism. The world was flat, and then it was round.
We don’t reject these things because we are better people. We reject them because they are impractical. The value they add to society (plunder and cheap labor) is not worth it compared to the visible, persistent, and contagious suffering they cause.
Today, you and I, are a society that punishes poor people with hunger.
We punish their children with inadequate education and curable disease. I wake up every day to my cowardice, shame, and complicity in this. I grew up hungry. What makes me angry is I’m still forced to watch it happen to other people.
The U.S. Civil War was not about slavery. It was a conflict between two economic systems: Slavery and Poverty.
Poverty outspent Slavery to win the war.
Poverty’s innovation over Slavery is neglect. Poverty allows people to be disposable. It was illegal in the South to abandon sick or old slaves. It’s legal and extremely profitable to abandon whole sectors of people today: small farmers, manufacturing workers, taxi drivers, refugees, Southern coal miners, and former slaves.
The Cold War was not about Communism. It was a conflict between two economic systems: Poverty and Totalitarianism.
Poverty outspent Totalitarianism to win the war.
Poverty’s “carrot” is the idea that someday you’ll be rich. Sometimes I buy a lottery ticket to remind myself of my personal power and how powerless so many people feel.
I am a software engineer. I automate “productivity”. My job will be the second to last job we automate. The last job will be everyone else - then we are all thrown away.
I have built the machines of poverty, and that road leads to inhumanity.
There is a moral argument to abolish poverty, but people in poverty can’t afford moral choices.
We must afford practical choices - these are the “sticks” that drive poverty.
We are neighbors like no people who have ever lived before. Computers and networks bring us together. So many separations between us are gone, and without brutal violence and information totalitarianism, we will continue to be this close.
Poverty makes this new closeness uncomfortable - the only people who hate poor people more than rich people, are other poor people. Next time you pass a panhandler stop and ask how you honestly feel in that moment. Anger? What feelings does that anger cover? Fear? Cowardice? Betrayal? Of whom? By whom? Are you in poverty if you can’t help your neighbors?
I understand racism, nationalism, and intolerance. If the people at the end of the line get thrown away, well I’m not going to be at the end of the poverty line.
A society based on poverty must fight terrorism with totalitarianism. People at the front of the line don’t need to blow themselves up to get what they want.
Modern “activism” at the front of the line looks like “posing” from the back of the poverty line. There’s a reason for Trump, Brexit, racism, nationalism, and terrorism. “Zero tolerance of racism” implies throwing racist’s away. Modern activism is failing because it’s desperate. Activists “activate” people with compassion not intolerance. Are you an activist if you plan to throw people away?
I’m not standing in this damn poverty line. I’m not building it anymore. Why are you waiting in line for a better slice of poverty?
It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence. – Gandhi
You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger. – Buddha
These are not incompatible ideas. I don’t believe in magic. I believe in the magic of technology and story. I am a craftsman of technology, and we should practice this together to write a new story. I believe in open source. I believe in hactivism. I believe my personal power comes from self-discipline and compassion.
Automation and Poverty are incompatible. There is no future for a connected society that does not believe in the human dignity of all it’s people.
We can’t automate away jobs and expect people to “figure it out”. We can’t blame people because their parents couldn’t afford to send them to the “good schools.” In a connected society, there is no place to go.
What is the point of automation if we’re all going to be thrown away?
Why are we working so hard to improve productivity but never see the results?
Why are we connected but don’t act like neighbors?
These aren’t new questions. I don’t believe the most interesting parts of Jesus Christ’s life were his birth and death. He spoke about poverty, greed, and living with our neighbors. Today, our neighbors are all humanity.
I am a poverty abolitionist, I believe in your human dignity, and the human dignity of all people.