“Global annual military spending tops $1.2 trillion.” There are 8,000,000,000 of us. UN estimates 7.5 billion humans. We are increasing every year by about 50 million, with about half the deaths than births. (There are over 100 million born every year.)
So, that’s at least $1500 per person per year that could be used, if nations did not exist. Military is only for defence against other nations; once they are gone, there is no need for them. Is $1500 per year enough to feed the world? Given that nearly a third of humans live on less than $2 per day, that would be more than enough in developing countries. In New Zealand, I can’t get a cauliflower for less than $3, so it may be more of a challenge. But I think even at New Zealand prices one could get a healthy diet for close to that price, especially if we changed the market.
Why is food so much more expensive in industrialised countries, and especially in NZ.? The easy answer is that it is the price of labour. But is the work any different in growing the food and getting it to market? Probably harder in developing countries. They have less tools, infrastructure, and resources in general. Only labour is cheap. And that drives the price of everything.
If much of the food supply that the State provides is grown locally; and this is bought at a fair price, would that fairness not include equal pay for equal work, wherever it was done. But if you did that, then the same money would be worth much more in a poor country than a rich one.
There is a simple answer to that: change the unit of money to person-time. A basic unit can be multiplied for quality and training of the person. Or we could leave it unadjusted. Either way, we are doing what Adam Smith writes about when we exchange goods: we exchange our labour for that of another’s. His labour theory of value.
People would be supported to grow their food, on roof-tops, balconies and indoors, by being provided the resources to do so, and the sell to the State for the produce based on their labour. The produce would the supply the local or community. Commercial or State food production would be needed to supplement the local product for most communities.
The State would supply each person or family, either with food or with meals at community centres. The food ordered would still have a price (in hours of basic person-time), but the State would supply and charge the electronic account of the individual. This is the functional equivalent of money, but is an abstract electronic credit that is given at birth to each baby.
Citizens earn credit by doing work; those who are not in paid employment get paid (in person-hours) for the work they do in caring for their family, friends, or community. Those who are unable to work are in the same category as those who are unable to manage their credits: they need State support.
Citizens use their person-hour credits for all their needs, from the private and State markets. Each individual is given credits by the State, and earns more from work, art or new ventures. One way that is not possible for an individual to make credits from is investment. The State provides investment to entrepreneurs, based on community support and track record.
If all transactions are in credit instead of money, and credit ledgers are public it becomes much harder for corruption to stay hidden, and crime is easily tracked. Blockchain technology offers secure and transparent transactions.
But, where does the State get the money to do all this? The money has to come from its citizens. The money we currently spend on the military could be used to feed the world. By providing healthy food, we can also expect to reduce the State’s cost for health services. But the State can also create money, especially when money is just digital credit.
But let’s ignore that aspect and make the case that food provided by the State could be more efficient (or cheaper) than when provide by the market. There is no longer the need for marketing, and we have the technology for global management for scale efficiencies.
State planning did not work well for production or distribution of food in the Soviet Union. The difference is that through the use of smartphones and computers, we can have a system that is driven by community needs; not directed by bureaucrats. A system that encourages local food growing, by rewarding productivity. A system run using science and technology to efficiently. Such a system can provide food cheaper than the market, while meeting individual preferences, and improving health. So, it makes sense to pay more taxes and get free food. We do that for health and education; why not the other human needs? If we can do this more efficiently through the State than the market.