[theora-dev] For or Against

John Kintree jkintree at swbell.net
Thu Mar 20 10:59:43 PDT 2008

As a librarian and a father, I have both a professional and
a parental interest in democracy and access to information.
In addition to democracy, libraries and education are related
to other concerns.  For example, our physical and mental
health is critical to our ability to learn and to process
information fully.

Suppose a worldwide referendum was held on a proposal for
single-payer global health insurance.  The insurance would
be funded through a progressive tax on personal income.
Coverage within this plan would include preventive health
measures such as a wholesome diet, clean water, and so on.

All citizens of planet Earth would be eligible to vote, and
voting could be as simple as marking on a piece of paper
beside the words For or Against, and then dropping the
folded paper into a box with a slot in the lid.  For purposes
of authenticating the vote, webcams could be mounted at
polling places to record people who were voting, and the
counting and posting of the results at each polling place.

It would cost about $9 million for the hard drive capacity
to store the video record from a worldwide referendum.
That's figuring 10 million polling places, 12 hours per
polling place, 300 megabytes (MB) per hour of highly
compressed digital video, and $250 per terabyte (TB) of

There would likely be a range of opinions on such a
referendum.  Some people might resent being taxed to
pay for health care for other people, especially if the
others lived in some remote location such as Rwanda,
Honduras, or Cambodia.  In their minds, a tax on personal
income to pay for global health insurance might be unfair.

Personally speaking, I would be in favor of it because of the
basic belief in trying to treat other people the way I want to
be treated myself.  That doesn't mean treating everyone the
same because each of us is unique and has different needs.
It means trying to provide precisely the resource that is
needed for each individual.

My way of expressing that value might be a bit secular for
some people.  For Christians, there is the commandment to
"love your neighbor as yourself."

The word "commandment" is also meaningful to Muslims; the
word "Muslim" means "one who submits to the will of Allah."
While Muslims regard Jesus as a great prophet, there is no
exact verse saying "love your neighbor as yourself" within
the Quran.  Still, one of the five pillars of Islam is charitable
giving as a way to help the poor and to reduce economic

From the Hindu perspective, there is a belief in reincarnation.
People were born into the untouchable caste, according to
this view, because of their actions in previous incarnations.
That does not mean people of higher castes are supposed
to mistreat untouchables.  The chief concern of all people
is right behavior, and treating others well, because the goal
is to be reincarnated at an even higher level in the future,
and eventually not have to return to the physical plane at
all, and worship in the presence of Krishna forever.

Of course, another reason to support universal health care
through single-payer global health insurance is that this
might be the best way, along with education, to promote
birth control.  Helping to slow and to stop the growth in the
human population is in everyone's self-interest.

In spite of popular support, single-payer national health
insurance has never been adopted in the United States.
The structure of power in the United States, plus divisions
between national governments presents an even greater
barrier to adopting single-payer health insurance on a
global scale.

A worldwide referendum might be the best means of
making it happen.  I know that sounds incredibly
far-fetched right now, but think about it.  With the
exponential pace in the development and deployment
of information and communication technologies, that
which is impossible today may not only be possible, but
become likely to happen in just a few more years.

Empowering ourselves to conduct a worldwide
referendum could be the next step in humanity's
social evolution.  If necessity is the mother of invention,
considering the depth of our need, it is time for a birthing.
John Kintree
4043 Delor Street
St. Louis, MO  63116
This message may be copied without restriction.  Responses
off listserves are welcome.  JK

More information about the theora-dev mailing list