Over the years, even before I became a socialist, I became aware of the extreme contradictions that are part and parcel of the world we live in.
For example, the "humanitarian bombing" of Yugoslavia. How NATO could criticize Yugoslavia for killing people and violating international law when NATO did the same thing by avoiding a U.N. Security Council vote and attacking Serbia? How can a bomb be humanitarian? How can killing thousands or tens of thousands be humanitarian? If killing is humanitarian, aren't the crimes of the Yugoslav security forces also humanitarian?
The U.S. government spends so much money on bombers to kill and maim people, but how come it can't do something constructive, like build and finance schools properly? Why are the military's goals put ahead of the needs of children?
Each day 34,000 children under the age of 5 die of hunger and the diseases that are caused by hunger. At any given moment, almost 800 million people around the world go hungry. Why? Is there just not enough to go around? Well, the world today produces enough grain alone to give everyone a 3,500 calorie a day diet. That's enough calories to make most people fat. And that's not counting vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts root crops, grass-fed meats and fish that the world produces! 78 percent of all malnourished children under 5 in the developing world live in countries with food surpluses. In India, 200 million of its citizens go hungry while the country exports roughly $625 million in wheat and flour and $1.3 billion in rice. If there are food surpluses, why doesn't everyone get enough? Why should anyone under the age of 5 worry about where or if their going to get their next meal?!?
Why do we live in a country where there are millions of homeless people when there are perfectly good houses and buildings collecting dust, just waiting to be bulldozed because they aren't profitable any more?
Something like 7 in 10 Americans have an income equal to or less than $50,000. Most people say they've missed the boom and have no chance at becoming rich, according to a recent Newsweek poll. Where's the boom for them? Why is it that the top 5-10% of income "earners" own almost 80-90% of the wealth of this country? How much do you really need?
Bill Gates has billions upon billions of dollars. Yet, 1 in 4 American children grow up in poverty. (In Britain, it's 1 in 3 that grow up in poverty). 44 million Americans don't have health care. The $793 billion dollar tax cut the big money, fat cat politicians bragged about in 2002 gave 25% of the break to the top tax bracket. And how much of the break did they give to the bottom tax bracket? A whopping $21!!
These contradictions persist (and get worse) because the entire system of capitalism it is built on contradictions. On the one hand, you have enormous amounts of wealth being produced, on the other hand, you have almost 1 billion people that live in "deep poverty", according to the World Health Organization. The U.N. did a report that found that if the entire world's income was distributed evenly, every person on the planet would live at an American middle class level! The U.N. in 2004 reported that it would cost a mere $80 billion to give clean water, decent health care, and education to every person in the Third World that needs it. Yet Bush spent $87 billion just to occupy oil-rich Iraq, with the unanimous approval of Congress. Faced with a choice between ending poverty in the Third World and continuing to kill and maim people and destroy a country, the American ruling class chose the latter.
There is no material reason people should go without their basic needs, food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, being met. But the economic system is not organized to meet human needs. It's based around making profits for corporations. If human needs don't get met, it's because it's not profitable to do so. That's why the world is so upside-down and the contradictions so extreme.