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The Daily Tar Heel

Society Has Responsibility To Preserve Resources For Continued Stability\

If you open any newspaper or magazine, you can find a tragic tale of poverty or what I refer to as the "have-nots." We read this tragic tale, feel a moment of sorrow and move on to the stock quotes, comics or arts and leisure section, forgetting this glimpse into the alien community of the "have-nots."

We have myriad social programs and caring people in this world who spend countless dollars and hours with the end result of greater poverty and no end to it in sight.

I would not even consider offering some type of public policy that could solve this problem, for thousands of people more intelligent than I have tried this route and failed.

I speak to the issue of poverty from my role as one of the "haves." I am someone who has the resources and basic comforts to address this social plague.

As a member of the "haves," I can only offer advice in the one arena that I truly know, that as one of the over-consumers of the world.

As a society, we blame the impoverished for their own scarcity in basic needs and fault the unemployed as lazy. However, we are also to blame for the lack of basic goods available to them.

As a student of city and regional planning, I am attempting to become educated in a variety of issues that affect our society.

One of the recurring themes in my studies is that of creating sustainable solutions to our society's ills.

If "have-nots" continue to be left behind, we are not creating sustainable solutions. Social equality is the only answer for sustainability - and for a future at all.

As the "haves," we have the resources and power for social change. The "haves" in this world, which represent 20 percent of the world's population, consume 86 percent of the world's resources.

The three richest people in the world own assets in excess of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the world's poorest 48 countries put together (in essence they could buy these countries). So we "haves" have a social obligation to bring about equality, not merely by giving some of our excess to the "have-nots," but by using our resources more efficiently and only taking what we need.

It can be as simple as walking or biking to work one day a week or changing your lifestyle to minimize possessions and use fewer resources.

We can also preserve resources by following the suggestions of a recent health study that found that Americans would live longer, healthier lives by eating a diet that contains 30 percent fewer calories.

If we continue to ignore the increasing income inequality in this world, our society will not be sustainable and social revolution will be inevitable.

However, if we accept this responsibility to preserve resources and promote equality, the only thing left will be the "haves."

Stephen Billings

Graduate Student

City and Regional Planning

The length rule was waived.

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