Continuing on the theme of my last few columns, I think that income inequality is one of the largest societal problems we are facing. If we can fix that, then maybe we can make America great for all. Notice I didn’t say great again? That’s because it’s never really been great for the majority of us.
First let me clarify. When I talk about fixing income inequality, it doesn’t mean that I think all incomes should be equal. It’s more about making it fairer for those at the bottom because the reality is that the deck is stacked against them from the get-go. They are just in survival mode (as are many in the so-called middle class) so they never get the opportunity to succeed at improving their lives.
As a society, opportunity is the most important thing we can provide for our members; the opportunity for quality education, affordable healthcare, decent housing, food security and the opportunity to not live in fear of those who profess to protect us. If we can provide these things, then as a society we’ve done our part and it’s then up to the individual to succeed.
So, how do we get to this utopian vision of America? Maybe we can use that “social capitalism” I was talking about in my last column. But instead of just having socially conscious businesses, let’s try a radical approach and make the federal government a corporation. I mean it’s already kind of a business with employees, income and expenses — it just needs to be restructured. All U.S. citizens of age would be stockholders and each would get to vote for the Board (Congress) and the executive officers. Wasn’t this one of Trump’s selling points — that he would run the government more like a business?
OK, yeah, I know it’s kind of a pipe dream to think we could change the Constitution to allow us to have a USA, Inc., especially considering we have all these Federalist Society members trying to keep us running our country like it was still 1776 even though society and the world have changed unimaginably since then.
Anyway, regardless of how the federal government is structured, let me give you my vision of a better and more equitable America. Now obviously, I don’t have all the answers as to how we can get to this place and I definitely don’t know how we pay for it, but here goes.
~ Basic minimum living standards: All our citizens will be provided a clean and safe place to live, food for three meals a day, a basic cell phone, internet and TV access. In exchange for this, they are required to work a minimum number of hours for either a private company, for the government (workfare) or be enrolled in school or vocational training.
~ Free primary, secondary and specialty education or vocational training: Everyone gets the opportunity to learn and become whatever they desire or ares best suited for. In exchange, they have to give back to the community a percentage of their skill, such as a doctor has to volunteer at a free clinic or the skilled tradesmen have to help maintain free housing, etc.
~ Affordable healthcare: This is a tough one, excepting the staffing of doctors, nurses and their support. That will be easier because without the burden of student debt, more people will go into the profession because they want to help people, not just to make money. Also, in exchange for their education, they will need to volunteer some of their time.
The hard part is reining in the costs of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and healthcare facilities. I think that can be done by using the social capitalism model that would require them to be nonprofits. The understanding being that a nonprofit can still make money to pay salaries and do research and development they just have to charge and pay socially acceptable norms.
So those are three of the main areas that need fixing to improve our society. Financially, I think they can be achieved by cutting back on foreign aid, especially military, and by withdrawing our military from the dead end conflicts we are now in. We should use those resources to improve our crumbling infrastructures, creating jobs at the same time.
Just to clarify, because we are providing these basic opportunities to those who need it doesn’t mean we won’t still have private education, healthcare and housing for those that can afford it. It’s just that we’re leveling the playing field a little so we can all be happier, healthier, smarter, and hopefully friendlier to those different than ourselves.
For archives of Edmund’s columns please visit www.whatsthepoint-edmund.blogspot.com