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Friday, 20 February 2015

Third World Problems

Third World Problems

By

Alexander Gordon Jahans


I am an idiot who writes scifi because becoming a scientist seemed too much like hard work. I post things on the internet because I am vain and believe that if rule 34 is true surely somebody must kair abowt my werk.

A guardian article recently got me very mad and on reflection I'm quite ashamed about that.  The article in question was simply pointing out a harsh truth: While the First World plays with 3d printers and iphones as it organises a mission to mars people in Africa still lack basic electricity and plumbing and suffer needlessly as a result. This is the article if you're curious http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/20/stop-pretending-mars-mankind?CMP=fb_gu

Now here I must make a terrible admission, when I was growing up Africa was hell. As in being an atheist kid with a home computer, TV and games consoles, Africa was this distant land of just constant suffering and every few years everyone who had any sort of decency would partake in a weird ritual to raise money to help raise Africa out of hell. And it was always Africa. Never towns or countries, just a whole continent of people whose only historical significance was as being slaves and having no money until the rich white men like Bob Geldof and the BBC and Halifax gave them some. When I was crying and suicidal about the bullying I received at school Africa was bought up to try and scare me into being grateful for the suffering I received at school. My ignorance and numb acceptance that Africa was just fucked caused me to casual dismiss it as nuked beyond viability in the background of my scifi dystopias.

It wasn't like I was malicious, I genuinely had been raised to pity the people in Africa, it just seemed that changing the issues in Africa was impossible and anyway if it wasn't Richard Curtgis was going to make poverty history. Fast forward to university and I lived in the same accomodation as Senegalese students and Nigerian students.I even got to experience the sense of isolation and dissonance of being in a room full of people having a party in a language you don't speak. Rather puts it into perspective that most of these people can speak English as well as me. And then my last university module focused on cinema in the third world and my mind was blown. Seriously watch The Circle by Jafar Panahi then realize that it's one small part of a genre aiming to teach people in Senegal, Nigeria and Iran etc about the brutality within their own country.

Think about that for a second. A film industry in Africa. Think about the technological dissonance going on there. They have access to film camera but not running water or freedom from female genital mutilation. 

I didn't. Not until now. 

No, I was too wrapped up in my own problems and the coolness of the futuristic technology we have or will have. Hell when I first saw the Guardian article that inspired this article I shared it without thinking and ranted about the selfish stupidity to put people today before the future of the human species but the article is right. There is a vast disparity between rich and poor countries and America and Britain are struggling to create jobs to stimulate the economy when the upper and middle classes (i.e. the people who fund the best election campaigns) both loathe poor people being given handouts so I have a radical solution: Pay people to bring Africa into at least the 1970s. I mean yes anybody you send over will be robbed and possibly kidnapped but what's a military budget good for if it can't secure the basic mains and water supply of countries dying of preventable diseases (hipster middle classes excluded of course)?

I mean think about it who do the upper and middle classes hate? Who are being squeezed out by the improvement of machines? Who would be invaluable in Africa? Tradesmen. 

Send the plumbers, electricians and building contractors out to Africa, employ locals (which will be cheaper and spread wealth) and then when everyone has central heating, inside toilets and internet Britain and America step back and basically write off the money spent rendering unto Africa the same basic utilities as their citizens have but make it plain just how much money was spent and let the various governments know just how they can invest in Britain and America and that if Africa can offer some small support in times of hardship the support would be appreciated. The various countries never have to pay a penny but if they can offer help in times of need it will go well for them.

And hey maybe design a few legal loopholes to entice big companies to settle in African countries. Like raise tax above a certain level of wealth to stupid (i.e. fair and reasonable) levels with a clause that if a corporation with this tax bracket is UK based but also has business in these specific areas of Africa then they get the amount of tax the conservatives would be willing to charge them.

Hell just say DMCAs can't be pulled if the servers are based within those areas of Africa.

Getting money from a rich person is hard but if you make it financially rewarding for them then trickle down economics can work with basic utilities to help people in Africa stop being the guilt we in the First World try very very hard to ignore.