Moiz Haq on Common Sense

The industrial age is filled things that contradict the common sense principle: A McDonald’s meal seems to cost less than the ingredients it contains. Bylaws prevent backyard beehives and urban chickens. Eggs are graded by color and size, and not by nutritional value. The list goes on. I avoid soy products because I don’t trust the corporations who own the seeds, but I have difficulty avoiding the GM corn found in just about everything else. While I’m committed to the simplicity of common sense, I’m often frustrated at the complexity of implementing it. Here are more examples of the ways government, business and industry often work against what appears to be a simple principle.

Moiz Haq’s life is full of contradictions: child of a Muslim father and Catholic mother, he loves fitness and smokes like a champion. He advocates local food but also feeds cravings for Big Macs, Australian shiraz, and African coffee. Follow him @haq1up

1. Birke Baehr – “What’s Wrong With Our Food System”

Birke Baehr is only 11 and he gets it already. His message: We can either pay the farmer or pay the hospital. He’d rather grow up to be an organic farmer than an NFL football player because it’s better for the planet. I’m impressed with his parents–they’ve raised a child with the ability to reason, question and articulate his thoughts. I wish kids like this weren’t such a rarity.

2. The life cycle of concrete

The Worldwatch Institute website has many stories that show the ways consumerism is working against our common sense. This piece is on efforts in Africa to help farmers process food locally, keeping the food chain short and the money in their own communities.

The link below is about concrete. In use for eons, concrete is everywhere. Much of of the world’s inventory will never go away. More is created every day, and we should be concerned about its impact both now and in the future, especially as the world becomes more urbanized and more vertical.

3. I’m Bored – The Significance Manifesto

“I’d suggest [that] industrial age business is to human achievement … what a box of instant ramen is to a Michelin starred meal. Paltry, slightly depressing, malnourishing–and, if consumed on a regular basis, maybe even permanently debilitating.”

In this piece, Umair Hague argues that the businesses of today are preoccupied by ideas that are pedestrian, predictable, predatory, pompous or pointless, and then sets out to suggest how they can do better. Industry would do well to follow his advice.

4. Is it too late to put common sense first?

Common sense indicates we should learn from our mistakes, but it seems we are stuck in a cycle of re-learning something and then forgetting it again. This story on government bailouts asks whether it’s true that the largest corporations in America are simply too big to fail. (That is, they need to be bailed out because the impact of their failure on the economy would be too great.) What happened to natural selection, the survival of the fittest, evolution, “innovate or die”?

5. Where is my streetcar?

While I’m dedicated to public transportation, I struggle with the realities of using it. For readers who share my frustration, this interactive website will make your day (and life) easier. The contradiction is that this free tool was developed by a fellow commuter, and did not stem from the Toronto Transit Commission’s new focus on customer service that everyone is waiting for.