Saturday, December 1, 2018

Our Basic Needs Are Abundant, Not Scarce

     In late November 2017, I posted a commentary to social media regarding what I regard as the most basic and primary set of human needs, whether they are scarce or abundant, and how we could access and afford them more easily. The post, originally titled “Everything Should Be Free”, follows:

     The law of supply and demand dictates that if a good is abundant (i.e., more exists than people need), its price will fall towards zero/free.
     To clarify, resources existing in a fixed amount, does not necessarily guarantee scarcity by that fact alone. Nor does scarcity only refer to shortages; shortages which are locally felt may be a symptom of inefficient distribution, unequal distribution. Scarcity is a condition in which a resource exists in a smaller amount than the amount demanded or needed.
     We can verify that most things we need to survive are not scarce, by simply thinking about it. Which things do we need to survive, and which phenomena and technologies make them freer? Our most basic needs are air, water, food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. I have not addressed clothing here, nor the need for plumbing and sanitation; but I did not leave them out because they're any less important; they're no less important. Instead, I have chosen to comment on how to make energy and transportation more easily available to people.

     AIR is free to breathe, but there will only truly be no price for clean air, when there is no more unnecessary air pollution, and when the costs of cleaning the air up (that is, cleaning up after ourselves) have gone down to zero. But it is possible.

     WATER falls from the sky in abundance. We can collect it, but only when it's legal. Sometimes it's illegal for a good reason, like when altering rain flow affects our neighbors' property, or threatens wildlife in the area, or drastically changes the water table or causes flooding. But when collecting rainwater does not require creating an artificial lake, it can be done freely and safely. Through rooftop water filters and rain collection systems, we could make water much easier to afford and acquire.
There is also a product called LifeStraw, which converts contaminated water into free, safe, filtered, drinkable water. If this product were made easily and cheaply available to the third world, perhaps through charity or mutual aid, then struggling people would have a much easier time acquiring water, one of the most primary things we need to survive.

     Enough FOOD is produced on the planet annually to feed 10 billion, while we have to feed only 7.5 billion. While the US throws away 40% of food, France requires groceries to donate unsold food to charity. Teach people how to grow food, and let them do it in cities. Watch “Extreme Couponing” and look up the mutual aid organization Food Not Bombs.

     SHELTER could be easily made cheap, or even free, through liberalization of homesteading requirements, changing local building codes to keep up with modern safety innovations and allow experimental architectural techniques, and returning the vast swaths of land owned by the federal government back to the states and the people. This will make land more available, and in turn, more places to stay.
     There are now 6 empty residences for each homeless American. Remove all government supports (including police protection) for absentee property ownership. Allow people to host homeless and needy people in their apartments without requiring them to pay rent, and allow renters and trailer and tiny house residents to claim state homestead tax credits (in states other than Wisconsin, the only state in which residents can do so).

     MEDICINE is kept artificially scarce and artificially expensive through patents, taxes, insurance mandates, trade barriers (against foreign-made pharmaceuticals), deadly approval delays, and other unnecessary and often unconstitutional intrusions. Getting rid of these privileges and barriers could help reduce the prices of medical care, medications, and medical devices.

     ENERGY is kept artificially expensive through patents, regional monopolies, preferential subsidies for one energy source or the other, and more. Letting the market choose renewable resources like solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and Alternating Current energy could save money, lives, and the planet.

     TRANSPORTATION could be made cheaper by withdrawing all government and taxpayer supports from car dealerships, used car lots, and car graveyards. Vehicles in car graveyards, and aircraft sitting on government-owned lands, could be repaired and turned over to those who need them. The idea that car dealerships sit on cars, and have state-licensed private security guards and the police to protect them (sometimes at taxpayer expense) should indicate that price reductions are the only way to clear the market. The fact that supply and demand are not meeting, and causing markets to clear, ought to indicate that what's being sold simply isn't worth what they're asking for. Maybe it even indicates that there is not currently a free or fair market in transportation.

For more information:

- look up Citizens for Truth in School on Facebook,

- read my article "You Don't Need Money to Live" at


- read my blog entry "Links on Homelessness and Moneylessness"

Originally Written in Late November 2017
Edited and Expanded on December 1st, 2018
Published on December 1st, 2018