10 Ideas for a better world

Policies that put people first

  1.  Dispel the myth of higher education & invest in all types of education 

Good parents everywhere congratulate themselves on a job well done the day their child graduates college or university.  If they graduate from an Ivy League, well – they are the “bell of the ball”.  But it doesn’t matter how prestigious the university, or how high a student’s GPA is; there are very few employment opportunities for a graduate in Russian Literature, or the Fine Arts, Film or Anthropology graduate, and you might as well throw English literature, Drama, and Art History on the list …we could be here all day.  Universities draw students in with government subsidized loans and the promise they can pay the loans back once they get a job.  They fail to mention that this J-O-B. will most likely be the same one they had in high-school.  

Higher education in North America needs to be fixed.  Universities and colleges are subsidized by the government – so enforcing new funding rules could be as easy as withholding subsidy transfers until they comply.

  1. All degrees and diplomas should disclose real-world job stats, including average compensation and % of people that found work in their chosen field within 6 months of graduation.
  2. Post secondary acceptance criteria should be transparent.  Just like how every kid growing up knows what it takes to become a navy seal, the same should be true to get into Harvard.  For example, the student will have to achieve a minimum  GPA and:
    1. Have started a small charity 
    2. Is an olympic athlete
    3. Invented a popular crypto-currency
    4. Or perhaps worked 20 hours a week in a minimum wage job
  3. Elite universities should consider a variety of factors when accepting students to ensure people from all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds are considered.   
  4. Universities and college fees should be reflective of the value of their degree.  All universities and degrees are not created equal, so why do people pay a similar amount?  It should be substantially cheaper to go to a less prestigious university.  Or, in the same vein, there should be different tuition based on the program and likelihood of finding meaningful employment.
  5. Mitigate student debt for graduating students.  It’s not a student’s fault that they were born into lower/middle class so why should they carry the weight of their student debt.  The fact it’s easier to get a student loan of $30,000 at 18 years old than it is to get a $1,000 line of credit once they graduate should be concerning.  I think wiping out debt altogether would be impossible, but setting up a system that calculates someone’s student debt based on historical and current earnings could be doable.  For example, graduates are required to contribute 5% of their yearly gross salary towards their debt for 5 years.  If they haven’t paid back the full amount in 7 years, but they were able to maintain the 5% annualized payment schedule, their debt is wiped clean.  
  6. Consequences for predatory schools: the ones that produce high student debt and a low graduation rate or sell students on promises they can’t deliver on.  Trump University: It’s Worse Than You Think
  7. Value tradework: encourage less academic students to become apprentices and showcase the consistent pay and opportunities for small business ownership.  
  8. Offer free community college courses for real life skills, for example:  personal taxes, investing, setting up an RSP, buying a home, starting a business, becoming a consultant, cooking, cleaning, raising children, etc.
  9. Invest in new forms of education and teachers!   Knowledge is power and to ensure society can meet with the challenges ahead a comprehensive education is essential.  Play based social games for toddlers leading into interest based programs as they mature.  Experiment with different techniques, track results, create learning communities – teaching should not just be a noble profession, but a highly paid profession that rewards ingenuity and fosters teamwork.
  10. Encourage private citizens to educate: guest lectures, apprentice programs, specialized courses should be offered to students of all ages for every type of program.  

Some of these ideas have been taken from Michael Sandel who wrote the book Tyranny of Merit.  If you are short on time, listen to this podcast to hear some relevant talking points Making Sense #221 – Success, failure, & the common good

2.  Community Policing

Train police for different types of work.  Police exist to maintain order so a large portion of the force should be focused on supporting the community.  Social workers, psychologists, community leaders should all be included in the force, as well as data analysts (predict trends), tactical enforcers, purpose built SWAT teams and detectives.  Police officers should be encouraged to bolster their qualifications by transferring to different departments, participating in training programs and increasing their education.  Police should be a bipartisan organization that is judged by increasing positive outcomes and decreasing the likelihood of negative outcomes and they should be funded.  

3.  Legislate the Internet

A few simple laws could improve all online media:

  1. Establish fines for “fake news”.  I’m not advocating the end of the conspiracy theories or even Tucker Carlson (although it would be a happy coincidence if he were to disappear).  But if someone posits an unproven fact that harms people, i.e. makes them storm into a Pizza establishment with an AK47 to protect children from a non-existent pedophile ring, or harass the parents of Sandy Hook, forcing them to move multiple times AFTER they lost their 7 year old son/daughter to a violent gun extremist (Alex Jones), well they should:
    1. get a hefty fine/jail time and
    2. never be able to monetize their lie
  2. Create guidelines for social media
    1. Social media companies should not be able to capitalize on promoting hate and divisiveness.  They either have to share their algorithms or employ a 3rd party auditing company that measures the influence of the platform (and react accordingly).
  3. The global community should come together and enact laws that prosecute child pornography and human trafficking.  Companies should be encouraged to share automated systems that detect illegal activity.  

4.  Cap all political donations and cap the total amount a politician can raise for a particular election campaign.  

Corporate interest should not supersede the common good.  

5.   Gun Control

What is there to say that hasn’t been said about this, The Science Is Clear: Gun Control Saves LivesGun control, banning assault rifles like AK47’s and a gun buyback program would significantly improve the lives of Americans. 

6.  Increase Minimum Wage

Minimum wage should be a livable wage.  And, people should get paid more for harder jobs like  shift work, night shifts and dangerous conditions.  

7.  See healthcare a right not a privilege

This is a whole other article, but 66.5% of Americans who go bankrupt name healthcare as the primary reason.  The current healthcare system in the US is broken, spending nearly twice the amount on healthcare per person than comparable countries and getting worse outcomes.  

8.  Legalize Drugs

This is another article, but criminalizing drugs has led to the incarceration of far too many people from lower incomes.  The war on drugs is a thinly veiled war on poor people.  With fat cats profiting from incarcerating disadvantaged groups and the government mandating extended sentences, it’s time for a systematic change.  It’s difficult to succeed if one of your parents is in jail, and many ambitious kids born into poverty find the lure of the illicit drug trade more compelling than a minimum wage job.  Sit back and enjoy Jay Z for more context.

9.  Fund the Government

  1. Change the rules for the Giving Pledge and all charity donations.
    1. The Giving Pledge is a sham:  Many of the world’s ultra rich have signed up for the The Giving Pledge which  “is a movement of philanthropists who commit to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.”   The problem with The Giving Pledge is that billionaires can game the donations by allocating their wealth to their personal private family foundations or a donate-advisor funds.  Not only does their donation reduce their personal taxes significantly, the charity often lucratively employs their friends/family or creates a legacy trust that their heirs can distribute as they see fit/when they see fit.  The current set up actually cost taxpayers even more money and very little of the donated money goes to people in need.  “For every dollar donated by a billionaire to their private foundation, we the taxpayers chip in as much as 74¢ on the dollar in lost tax revenue.” The Guardian, In a pandemic, billionaires are richer than ever. Why aren’t they giving more?  Billionaires reap the rewards of full tax break for the entire donation while the funds are only required to donate a small amount (if anything) on actual working charities.  
    2. Create a special rules for donating stock:  The ultra-rich often have their wealth tied up in stock. Most of the stock they own is in company they created so by selling their stock, they would also be giving up control in their company.  Perhaps it’s time to make a new type of stock – a charity stock.  The money value of donated stock value would go directly into the charity but the voting rights would still remain with the donator.  Only government charities could issue charity stocks, so the billionaires would not be able to guide how the charity stock was spent – charities could include: 
  1.  Change the tax code:  Tax capital higher than labour.  It’s crazy that labour is taxed more than capital – if that doesn’t show the system is rigged for the rich, then I’m not sure what else does.  Rich people can afford to hire the very “best” accountants and financial advisors to help them navigate the mind-boggling tax codes.  
  2.  Create a flat tax:  The complexity of the tax system is another tax on the poor and middle class.  It’s time to keep it simple.

10.  Ethics and the common good should be taught every two years.     

As people mature and find their place in society they are faced with many ethical dilemmas.  A seven year olds dilemma is different from a nine year olds and so on.  Creating an ethics  course that matches a students age will create an ethical feedback loop that reinforces positive behavior and minimizes regrets and negative actions.  

Many legislators seem to be more concerned with staying in power than creating good policy - here's a list of 10 things that would put people first.

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