Studies indicate close to 50 percent of the food grown in America goes to waste, this while millions of people here go hungry each day, including many children. Though efforts are being made to capture and use perfectly good food that would otherwise become garbage, they pale by comparison with the tonnage that rots and ends up in landfills.
Our relationship with food is just one example of our culture’s strange relationship with overabundance. For example, an entirely new consulting profession has emerged: de-clutter specialists. These consultants inspect homes and help people evaluate what is actually being used and worth keeping vs. what is doing little more than taking up space. For a juicy fee, people can now go through their possessions item-by-item and be liberated from the suffering of overabundance.
With the new corporate tax cuts, America’s businesses are coping with an overabundance of cash. Some corporations are giving their workers a one-time bonus while others are planning to increase dividends to their shareholders. Never mind that poverty rates in this country have grown and that income inequality has never been higher. When it comes to an overabundance of cash the last thing corporate America wants to do is invest it.
On television and the internet there’s an overabundance of information, so much so that knowing who or what to believe has spawned a whole new industry: Sorting Out Fake News. It’s gotten so bad that Facebook is going back to its roots and focusing on connecting friends and family rather than providing news. It seems the overabundance of news increases the rates of depression in Facebook users.
Speaking of depression, there’s an overabundance of that too. And anxiety. And high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, loneliness and gun deaths. Some call these First World problems, problems that people in poor Third World countries don’t have; their problem is scarcity. Many people around the world don’t have enough to eat let alone food to waste and too little of other things they need, such as a pair of shoes; they yearn for demanding jobs, good hospitals, good doctors, or even any doctor at all.
Every recent study of the economic and social conditions of Sonoma Valley and the City of Sonoma indicate they mirror the conditions of America in general. Income inequality is enormous and growing; wealthy two or even three-home families are increasing while many low-income families cannot afford any place to rent; healthcare for low-income citizens is threatened. What once was a middle class community is morphing into a wealthy enclave employing a permanent under-class.
Thus the well-to-do demand organic food, organically-grown cotton clothes, electric vehicles, solar-powered homes, and so forth while the not-so-well-to-do get by as best they can using coupons for crappy food, shopping at thrift stores, and living in sub-standard housing or even their automobiles. Overabundance, it seems, is a class issue, and coping with it is an upper-class problem.
We think it’s possible to adjust the overabundance problem: raise the minimum wage, require a higher percentage of housing to be regulated affordable units, divert tourism money to housing, limit the number of wine-tasting rooms on the plaza, outlaw vacations rentals; in short, spread the wealth to provide abundance for the many and reduce overabundance for the few.
— Sun Editorial Board