As October vanishes into your pile of discarded calendar pages, it is just a bit over one year until the 2012 national elections.  Congress’ approval rating is an astounding 9%, Obama’s is in the low 40’s, and the candidacy of Herman Cain, the Godfather of Pizza, (he of the upside down demonic ‘9-9-9,’ unless you are poor, in which case, in his latest version, you now get 9-0-9, with or without pepperoni on that) is leading some polls in the 20-something percent range, stupefying many who are still puzzling what that smoking commercial was about.

And, just when it matters (to the OWS’ folks as well as everyone else), the Congressional Budget Office last week turned in a new report showing that the top 1 percent of Americans more than doubled their share of America’s income over the past three decades, a rise since the Reagan Presidency in wealth disparity in this county of the Marie Antoinette ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ variety, whatever your politics may be.

Yes, this budget report showed that, from 1979 to 2007 (before the Housing/Liar Loans’/Derivatives Bubble burst) – the after-tax income of the top fifth of American earners was more than all the combined income of the other four-fifths’ of Americans – the richest one fifth received 53% of after-tax household income in 2007.  The top 1 percent of American earners’ share of after-tax household income more than doubled: it was nearly 8% in 1979, and in 2007, it climbed to 17%.  But, the middle three-fifths saw their share of after-tax income actually decline by 2 to 3% from 1979 to 2007, while the lowest fifth dropped from 7% in 1979 to 5% in 2007.  Lest we wonder about why there are today no jobs and no spending, this was the situation before the you-know-what hit the fan in 2008!

We will pass the milestone of having 7 Billion humans all living at the same time on this planet by the time you read this.  When you consider that at the very start of the 19thC, we only had 1 Billion of us here, the dramatic level of increase of the human population since then (in just a bit over two centuries) has been nothing short of astounding.  When you also consider that it took our species literally millions of years of being chased about and eaten by most predators, to be able to hang on, find enough to eat, and then be able to spend the time procreating (on breaks from hunting and gathering) to get to that first 1 Billion mark.  If you are a student of Paleoanthropology, you will also know that there were times that the human race flirted with extinction too, one million years ago when early humans numbered only some 18,500 individuals, and, again, some 70,000 years ago, when a giant volcanic eruption almost wiped out the human race, and we might have been down to 10,000 or so – experts argue wildly over this.

But, we are here now, all 7 Billion of us.  UNICEF says that 22,000 children die each day due to poverty, “[dying] quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

As of the turning of the 21stC, nearly a Billion people in this world could not read a book or even sign their names.   If the world diverted less than 1 percent of what is today spent on weapons of war, and, instead, used the money to educate the children of this world, by the year 2000 this would have paid for an education for every child in this world.  Instead, 72 million children worldwide who are at the age of going to primary school, or older, across the developing world, did not attend school, and 57 percent of them were female, many of whom will grow up, if disease does not kill them first, and have children of their own.

Approximately 1.1 Billion humans in those same developing countries do not have adequate access to water – you know, what you get when your sink is turned on – 1.8 Billion have access to water, but have to walk, up to 1 kilometer, because that water is not located in or around their homes – we’re talking about water, the liquid that humans consume some 20 liters per day of when it is available.  2.6 Billion people do not have basic sanitation – in deference to those reading this over coffee and breakfast, we shall go no further on this one.

Next time you are out and about, feeding those nifty, credit-card-accepting parking meters, where you cannot recover the previous parker’s remaining minutes of time, no less, consider:  something in excess of 660 Million people without sanitation actually live on less than $2 a day (you read that right, per day!), and more than 385 Million live on less than $1 a day!

Just numbers . . . .  Or, is there more to contemplate here?  Projections are that we will now quickly grow past the 8, 9 and 10 Billion people marks and presumably beyond, even faster than we progressed so far – we are the species who not only survived, but also thrived, and we truly re-made this world in our own image, for better and for worse.  But, consideration of all these numbers should also stimulate new thinking – creative thinking.  Are all the truths of a planet of but 1, or 2, Billion humans, still truths for a planet of 7 Billion, or 10 Billion, which is now so wired, global, and interconnected, that you can turn to your computer, when you are done reading this – or, if the numbers are too dazzling, before you finish reading – and you can have real time, voice and video chats with people anywhere, and on any continent – are those truths still rational, relevant and workable in this increasingly crowded world where some drink deeply as ever of the cup of life, while others do not drink at all?

That is the real Numbers Question . . ..