5 Things Everyone Wants That Would Actually Ruin The World
We made it, friends! We made it. All those hopes and dreams and frantic 2 a.m. wishes we've been mentally lobbing at the Universe have magically come true. We all won the lottery. There is no more war. Valve is making Half-Life 3. We live in the land of plenty now. The world is finally perfect. And it fucking sucks. Here's why.
If Everyone Won The Lottery, No One Would Be Rich (And The Economy Would Probably Tank)
In the noted sociological documentary Bruce Almighty, the temporarily God-powered Jim Carrey becomes bored with answering prayers and just hits everyone with a mass-reply "Yes."
Shockingly enough, granting everyone exactly what they want isn't the smartest move, and the hordes and hordes of simultaneous lottery winners alone bring society to chaos.
"What if everyone suddenly became rich?" is a popular philosophical question (read: source of discussion on the internet). Although it's very difficult to conclusively prove what would actually happen in a scenario like this, because come on, the consensus seems to be that everyone becoming rich would suck festering monkey turds. There are two schools of thought about this. Some ask: "If everyone suddenly became rich, who would do all the work?" To which others, who have thought things slightly further, answer: "Us, because we'd all still be poor, thanks to the massive hyperinflation that slapping everyone with, say, a billion dollars would inevitably cause.
I'm no economist, but it makes sense. When everyone suddenly has piles of money, the prices dramatically hike up, and before long, we'll go the way of the Weimar Republic circa World War II. You'll find yourself buying $5 billion stamps with a fucking cartload of money that's worth less than the paper it's printed on. Hooray! Your Scrooge McDuckian mounds of money will now buy you half a Twinkie. Hope you like bartering!
What, did you think I was kidding about the stamps?
If We Got Rid of All Disease, Population Growth Would Likely Explode
Apart from very specific and unfortunate fetishists, no one likes disease. So why don't we just get rid of it all? Let's say you, the Tony Stark of chemists, managed to come up with a pill that eradicates all disease. How much pain would that spare people? What glorious, cough-free fate would you lead mankind to face?
How many centuries would it take for us to grow tired of mocking the anti-vaxxers?
Nim Arinaminpathy, Princeton's mathematical epidemiologist, has actually looked into this, and he's not super sure what would happen if we suddenly gained the ability to wipe away all disease. It would obviously be a positive development for people whose lives are actively ravaged by ailments -- say, the children in Africa who are rendered unable to study and rise out of poverty by constant bouts of malaria. However, it might also accidentally kill off viruses and bacteria that are beneficial to us. That shit has already happened with antibiotics, which wreck the good bacteria in your intestine along with the harmful ones it's supposed to destroy, and our understanding of viruses is still too limited to conclusively determine which of the many ones hitching a ride in our body might secretly be fighting the good fight.
Sure, in the end, Arinaminpathy concludes that eradication of disease would probably be mostly a good thing, because he figures that a whole bunch of the freshly free-of-disease people would be able to get educated, and we'd thus have far more collective brainpower to figure out all the minor kinks that would come with the world's sudden lack of sick days. It's just that not all the kinks would be minor. Here's the world's population growth, complete with estimations up to 2050:
Take a good look at that chart. Rub it on your face, it's fine.
There are currently seven billion people stomping about the Earth and digging into its resources. An estimated two billion more are going to enter the fray within the next three decades. And that's with all the diseases still around, taking their cut. Imagine what the growth would be like without them. With everyone healthy and able, people would almost certainly fuck a lot more, and since STD's wouldn't be an issue anymore, chances are condom manufacturers wouldn't exactly be rolling in dough. We'd be buried in babies, popping into existence everywhere like screeching tribbles. As for the other end of the line, we wouldn't die off nearly at the rate we're doing now, either. A whole bunch of deaths by natural causes come from disease. Eradicating age-related disease alone would mean that the average person would live way, way longer than we do now (statistically speaking, reaching the ripe age of 1,000 wouldn't be an impossibility).
But hell, maybe that's not a problem. Maybe we could ... uh, set up some creepy dystopian forced birth control system? Like a global version of China's one-child policy? That is, if we were lucky and our sudden population explosion doesn't fuck the planet so badly that it starts fucking us right back, seeing as how it can only support nine or 10 billion human beings.
That's right: A gloomy futuristic sex-controlling military junta is our best-case scenario here.
Getting Rid of All Guns Would Likely Start A War
Okay, fuck. This one's a minefield, isn't it?
Full disclosure: I've done a stint in my country's military. I have fired, launched, trip-wired and explodo-testicled all sorts of contraptions that are (hopefully) out of reach for most Second Amendment fanatics. Also, despite all this, I think that guns are kind of bullshit. I'm all for limiting their availability. But doing that "in a perfect world" thing, where we'd just take everyone's guns away? Shit no, son. That one would explode on everyone's face faster than a DIY Independence Day firework.
Of course, no one knows for certain what would really happen if we suddenly decided to get rid of all the guns. So let's crank up the official Cracked Speculation Machine!
Still remember the dipshit occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge early this year? How Ammon Bundy and his cohorts occupied a rural government building for several weeks, and eventually ended up arrested or, in one particularly boneheaded case, dead? It was complete and utter bumblefuckery. And should the government suddenly decide to confiscate everyone's guns, it would also be fucking everywhere. Probably with a lot itchier trigger fingers, too.
Let's be honest: Getting rid of all guns would likely cause instant civil war in the U.S., because people wouldn't give them to the authorities, because of course they fucking wouldn't. Gangs and Bundy-style dipshit militias would eventually band together, form bigger units, and get organized until they eventually ended up under the command of a leader who fits their mentality.
Picture totally unrelated.
On the other side of the conflict would, at least at the initial stage, be the cops. Not that it would matter if it's them, the National Guard, or freaking Seal Team Six, because they'd be up against a bunch of armed-to-the-teeth folks waving assault rifles and Gadsden flags. They'd be forced to resort to military tactics almost immediately just to control the rebellions in cities. At some point, things would escalate, and the military would be called in, and ... well, let's just say all the warring won't exactly stay civil, if you know what I'm saying. (I'm saying there would be a civil war.)
But let's assume every gun owner has been bingeing Pixar movies and is thus unable to protest the confiscation because of the sobbing. Hooray! America is now a gun-free zone. Nationwide peace, right? Well, no -- turns out, the government has already tried prohibiting a dangerous thing that people very much enjoy. Al Capone will tell you all about how well that shit went. The exact same thing would happen with guns. In fact, the chain of distribution is already in place, as the U.S. is teeming with illegally obtained weapons and small-time suppliers providing them.
Feeding Every Hungry Mouth In The World Would Be Useless
Solving world hunger is one of those things that should be pretty damn high on the world's collective things-to-do list. What's more, it's completely feasible, and even if it's a massive undertaking, it's not exactly rocket surgery. Set up the logistics, write up a few contracts, and start hauling food to the people in need.
So why are we still dicking around with food pills and all the "slowly reducing world hunger" horseshit? Just feed the fucking world already, world. Jesus.
"Leave me out of this, dude. I already showed the bread-and-fish trick once. It's not my fault no one was taking notes.
There's just one problem: No matter how big your global soup kitchen would be, it wouldn't work. If you feed all the poor and hungry people today, they're going to be hungry again tomorrow. There is no long-term solution in the "just give all the hungry people food, duh" school of thought -- only the next meal. That's because the problem is not really world hunger at all. That shit's just a symptom of the real issue, which is -- shockingly enough -- poverty. I realize that may sound like Captain Obvious territory, and although I'm sure plenty of forward-looking experts have realized it pretty early on, but only in recent years have we seen more people actually figuring that shit out (or at least raving about it online).
The key to solving most things is screaming about them on the internet.
As with hunger, poverty can't be solved by holding Bill Gates upside down by his ankles and distributing the falling billions to the developing countries. The true key to dealing with this shit isn't "give a man a fish," it's "teach a man to fish." Or rather, a woman. Roughly half of the 600 million farmers in developing countries are women, who are equally capable as men, but tend to end up with much smaller and shittier land, less access to good seeds, and fewer farm animals. They also have fewer chances for education, loans, or even insurance because of their gender. Just leveling the playing field for them would reduce world hunger by up to 17 percent. So now we have to solve the sexism issue, too.
Another way to reduce the number of hungry mouths in the world is by bringing them together; organizing lone farmers and assorted poor workers without much resources by connecting them with each other creates a supply chain that'll be able to work much more efficiently and produce more food than some random dude working on his tiny field alone. So now there's community training, too. And then there's the need to maintain good ties to local governments, and cracking down on corruption, and making sure food manufacturers don't hide any bullshit in their products ...
Oh shit, guys. Looks like complex worldwide problems are actually pretty ... complex. Who knew?
Living In A Perfect World Would Be A Goddamned Nightmare
I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm pretty firmly entrenched into the "nothing's perfect" camp, because of course I am, you've read this column. Still, to alleviate my natural grumpiness, I figured we'd end this up with a high note: living in a perfect world. Of course, perfection is nigh-impossible by default, but if you could really achieve it, what would there be to complain about? In a world that's perfect, all of the things I've talked in this column would be fixed, as would everything else. Things would be as good as they can possibly be, because they would be ... perfect.
Oh, who am I kidding? Life in a perfect world would suck.
In related news, I've written this entire article with this look on my face.
The thing is, whose perfect world? We only have the one, and chances are not everyone is buying into the paradise on offer. Your version of utopia would almost certainly be different from that of your creepy upstairs neighbor who looks like a character from Bioshock and can recite the John Galt speech from Atlas Shrugged by heart, or the one conjured up by the anime fan with the sticky body pillow from apartment 305, or the version Hillary Clinton imagines. And chances are everyone's but yours flat out sucks. People are into some pretty weird things. Neil DeGrasse Tyson seems pretty cool, but his version of utopia -- the country of Rationalia, where all policy would be based on the weight of evidence -- would be a terrifying, error-prone, bias-tainted bunch of ass, because science often kind of sucks at getting things right. Shit, even in the hellish world of 1984, you can bet your butt that in the corner of some ministry, a small grey bureaucracy fetishist was having the time of his life.
We've been experimenting with utopias throughout history, and without fail, they've gone to the shitter. Right now, the technocrats of Silicon Valley are building their own gadget-worshiping variation on the theme, and it looks roughly as attractive as an uneven set of sweaty balls. Hell, America pretty much started out as a utopia of the "land of possibility" type, and that went just great, didn't it?
Still, maybe the next one that'll come around will be the exact version you imagined, and not the borderline hell it'll be in most every other variation. You have one chance in seven billion!
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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