June 13th, 2008

At work, Self portrait

Make society more resilient, please

With increased civilization comes increased specialization. A lot of people become crucially important. You see this when they strike, which people love to do around here. We do have laws that can stop strikes when they endanger life and health. But we don't have laws that can stop virus. If we get a pandemic even the size of the Spanish Flu of 1918, we could be unlucky and lose clusters of key personnel, causing disproportionate damage to society.

We need to have backups for various functions, and we need to pay people to have knowledge they hopefully will never need.
At work, Self portrait

Distributed energy supply is necessary

In case of a pandemic or other large-scale disruption, having local energy is vital to preserving society. Solar energy is only produced during the day, obviously, but there are methods for storing at least some of the energy (though there is of course a loss involved). Wind power is also spotty, but its pattern is not the same as for solar, so they would overlap. These energy sources do require maintenance (contrary to popular belief) but the need is not acute like with nuclear power, where the last person to leave has to close down the plant. Local production also adds resilience toward power lines being destroyed, for instance by forest fires.

Even six hours of power a day is enough to perform most of a family's essential tasks, like food preparation, hygiene and electronic communication. (And not least, recharge the Nintendo DS, thus maintaining the essential sanity of the parents.) It is also enough for deep freezers to maintain their temperature with some slight variation. Food may not last for as many months as it does now, but enough that you won't need to leave the house during the run of a pandemic.

Mandatory parent insurance

Raising kids is expensive. They need food, clothes, education, and various stimulating activities. If you should suddenly leave your mortal coils, who will pay for your child to grow up and go to college?

Therefore I want to air the concept of Mandatory Parent Insurance. Anyone who wants to breed should have to first arrange for an insurance that will fully cover the average cost of raising a child to adulthood. (Obviously some children have special needs. We will not be concerned about this here. It is included in the average.) The insurance will kick in at the point where the parent is for some reason unable to provide for their child.

Unlike the American model of private health care, failure in this case is not punishable by death. Merely forced sterilization. This ensures that the non-payers don't get an advantage in numbers. Their genes will still be in the next generation, but in a moderate quantity so as to prevent reverse social Darwinism.

I haven't seen this implemented anywhere yet. I guess opposition from fecundity-based religious pressure groups has kept it off the public agenda. But please notice that in this moderate model, it is perfectly acceptable for the church to pay for the Mandatory Parent Insurance. There is no requirement that the parents themselves provide the money.

Note that correct naming is important for this measure to gain acceptance. We need to convey the fact that this is for the sake of the children.