We realize the members of the new party will ultimately arrive at permanent probably grander name, but we needed a working label. By focusing on the future we hoped to leave behind some of the historical baggage standing in the way of progress. It seems we as a nation keep singing “another someone done someone wrong song.” Various minorities seeking the end of white privilege, women retribution on men for a catalogue of miseries and Asians wondering how they arrived at a place where everybody else takes it out on them. Most of those indicted for group offenses feel they personally did nothing wrong but they and theirs face paying a price anyway.. The truth is everyone has a grievance against someone over something in the past. This isn’t to minimize past horrors, just the realization exacting a price from the innocent just creates more animosity. Descendants of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe coming well after the civil war called on to pay for the sins of slavery or worse children of Vietnamese boat people forced to surrender their rightful place at a top University may feel unfairly singled out.. Grievance begets grievance in an endless cycle. While arguing over how to achieve the impossible task of evening up the score for everyone’s past, we can’t move on to solving our present and future problems. In any case our two major parties have made the politics of grievance and reaction into an art form. No one is going to outdo these two masters in appealing to the aggrieved. Rather than being mired in the past, listen to the words of Nelson Mandala, “Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.”
In practical terms, this means finding ways to help those unable to fully participate in our society without penalizing or demonizing others. Any society maximizing the capabilities of all its members has to be better off. Even before we formed our nation, literacy was recognized as a way to build a foundation enabling full participation. Therefore, we provide public mandatory education. Unfortunately, large areas of America where people are marginalized are poorly served by their public schools. Like Mohammad, we are faced with the choice of moving the mountain to us or going to the mountain. Why are so many people unable to leave poorly served areas in many cities and Appalachia for forward moving areas featuring better job opportunities, schools and positive attitudes? It’s been reported that in country migration has markedly slowed. Are we inadvertently making hard to leave these areas? How do we regain our mobility? Without greater mobility we are stuck with moving mountains. Better schools in bad areas could lead to a better work force attracting investment, less crime resulting in less incarceration thus creating a virtuous cycle replacing the present dark cycle in so many places. Introducing competition and choice has improved educational outcomes. Education isn’t a zero sum game and improving education for some doesn’t mean losing it for others.
Some would say this is true with K!2 but higher education at prestige schools is different. There are only so many slots. Who gets in to Harvard makes all the difference. Or does it? Education is the acquisition of knowledge and it’s use through critical thinking. Never in human history has knowledge been so widely available at such reasonable price. So how is it we have so many young people mired in student debt? Maybe it’s because people are buying degrees not necessarily knowledge. Now a degree is supposed to indicate a level of applied knowledge and hopefully, critical thinking. In reality a degree from an Ivy league or some other “top” school is a career door opener. Maybe a certified system of online tests or achievements open to all could assure the world of your abilities resulting in open doors at a much more reasonable price. This surely would be a fair system.
Beyond education, other things need to be part each and every person’s toolbox. Reasonably priced healthcare for everyone. Now we can hear the screams, oh no, “Universal Healthcare”! Get over it. We already have Universal Healthcare. Got a health problem but no money or insurance head to the nearest emergency room. They’ll take good care of you. What we have is probably the worst Universal Healthcare possible. We need a system based on time-honored insurance principles balancing responsibilities between insurers and the insured. A system where we buy heath services the same way we buy everything else. “Dave’s Plan”, a sort of “Heath Savings Account Plan for All” on steroids (series on Dave’s Plan available on this blog) would provide insurance for the big problems while providing cash for the mundane. Funny when you’re paying you ask the price. Once you know the price people can compete on price and service. The ability to pay cash is almost always cheaper.
Not only would it add healthcare to each individual’s toolbox, but Dave”s Plan does much more. Because it’s your insurance and savings, it’s portable. No worrying about losing your healthcare or what about my 401K when you switch jobs? Mobility or even the threat of it gives individuals greater leverage and can result in higher pay and maybe even a job you really like.
Another thing it would do is something most people don’t think about. It would give everyone a savings account from birth, meaning everyone would have a link to the world of finance from birth. Why is this important? We have financial class distinction. Those that have capital or access to reasonably priced credit actually buy things cheaper. For instance,if you buy something with a credit card and pay for it on time you pay the price. If you just pay the minimum you pay that plus probably 18-20%. Now we know blacks and Hispanics, save less at every income level. A black doctor saves less than a white doctor and much less than an Asian doctor on average. Savings is just another word for capital. When you likely overpay for everything because you didn’t have cash, it’s no wonder Blacks, Hispanics and others have less net worth than whites and Asians. This savings account could help close the gap. People always take an interest in what they have. If you have a computer or a smart phone you take an interest learning how to use it. If you have savings account you’ll probably take an interest in it. Schools just might find they have to answer questions about them. Teaching about the value of capital in a Capitalist country, what a concept.
Family leave is most often thought of as a “women’s issue”, but in the future and we mean the near future it will be everyone’s issue if it isn’t already. Not only do we have to take time off for the little ones, but increasingly our aging parents and grandparents. Not everyone has children, but you don’t get here without parents. A growing universal problem needs a reasonable solution. This of course is a tease for our next policy series. But again, a growing problem affecting individuals across all groups needing a reasonable solution.
It’s our hope by zeroing in on the future rather than our present group grievances, we can provide a way forward lifting those individuals that for wherever reason have fallen behind without penalizing or worse demonizing others. No matter how hard we try, we can’t change the past but the future is ours. It bolsters our belief the best government is one that exists to provide the parameters for each and every individual to succeed. That’s the future worth building .