Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Needs" in the 21st century

Maslow's heirarchy of needs:

The physiological basics are more easily met now than ever. The "safety" needs, however, and perhaps the "love/belongoing" needs, are more complicated. What does it take to feel secure in one's livelihood? In one's relative sense of security in the world? Secure in one's health and resources?

Well, the resources "necessary" to be a participant in the modern world have expanded in some ways and contracted in others. Clearly most people do not need to have the land, tools, and knowledge to grow their own food, but they do need access to the internet, electricity, health insurance, a cell phone. Of course, relying on others to grow your food to the extent that you forfeit all ability to do so is predicated on a so far reliable but rather dangerous assumption.

My question is mostly to do with what resources we would need to equip the 21st century person with in order for them to feel fundamentally secure and connected.

- food
- water
- shelter
- fuel/energy
- sanitation (bathing, "waste")
- clothing
- transportation
- computer
- internet & wifi
- cell phone & cellular service
- health care
- disposable income for travel

Now, what would it take to be able to produce all this on a village scale? Add to the above: tools to make and repair everything needed. That's fundamentally the project of the Global Village Construction Set.

The GVCS doesn't tackle health needs. Would a community train its own doctors and nurses? What about specialized medical technology? These could be purchased by regional cooperatives, but these costs are, of course, some of the highest costs of modern life. Without a disposable income, how can an individual or family afford to utilize specialized medical technology even in a regional center?

Similarly, internet and cellular technology relies on networks, and someone has to lay the fiberoptic cable or put up the transponders. What sort of organizational form would arise to manage this? And what about roads, bridges, and other infrastructure? Local is good, but local to the extent that mobility is drastically reduced is a recipe for provincialism.

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