I have an idea.
Imagine country where a person’s worth was based on their character, and every person had an equal voice in their society. Money is strictly used for trading, and everyone has a guaranteed minimum income. What if teachers, nurses, firefighters, and politicians were all paid the same amount, and a job as a pizza delivery person or garbage collector was enough to pay for rent, utilities, and basic sustenance? The workweek could be capped at forty hours with limited annual overtime, and paid sick days and vacation days made mandatory. Think what it might be like if banks protected our money from theft, instead of being the thieves. Let’s throw GDP out the window and worry about national health, happiness, and safety.
Picture a country with blue skies, intact wilderness, and clean, renewable energy. Old-fashioned energy plants still existed, but with heavy restrictions, while no new ones were being built. A moratorium on the construction of new dams has been enacted until ecosystems are stable enough to endure such a change. Logging is limited and sustainable harvesting methods are required. People are employed building high-speed train routes and repairing decades-old infrastructure.
The very wealthy do not have a significantly larger portion of the wealth than the very poor. A “Robin Hood” tax structure puts more money in the government’s coffers, and is spent on free quality education, support for struggling individuals and families, retirement care, environmental protections, and international humanitarian aid. Military action is rare and limited. The military itself is small and focused on domestic issues. Police wear body cameras and complaints about their behavior are taken seriously. Discrimination is illegal. Tobacco is classified as a drug. Drug dealing continues to be illegal, but drug use is decriminalized and detox programs are free and open to everyone.
New parents have a year of paid parental leave, and receive a childcare tax subsidy. When the adults return to work, there is a daycare near their workplace. School is a place of learning, not testing; beyond a basic framework of reading, math, computer skills, science, history, and government studies, children can move freely between workspaces devoted to different subjects with teachers who are expert in those fields, to follow their interests. Playtime is unrestricted and only supervised, not structured. As children age and their interests develop, intern- and apprenticeships are available and accessible. College is a place of both learning and training, subsidized by the government, so students emerge ready to to take positions in the workplace. The elderly can be cared for by their families or in nursing homes with dedicated staff and free taxi passes so they can maintain their freedom of movement.
Science is valued for the sake of knowledge. Museums of art, culture, and history are repopulated for the same reason. Funding for purely academic research is rampant, because we acknowledge that our never-ending quest for knowledge is what makes us truly human. Athletics is returned to a form of fun and exercise, rather than an all-consuming part of American culture. Acting is valued on talent, not appearance, and heroes are chosen on their deeds rather than their looks
None of these are radical ideas on their own. Indeed, many of the individual ideas have strong support bases. On their own, each seems feasible. Put them all together, however, and the idea seems extreme. Maybe it seems like a fairy tale – a nice dream, but it will never happen. If we continue to sit and do nothing, it WILL never happen. But people have power. We have strength in numbers, and dedication and passion and desire for change can do some pretty incredible stuff.
So I challenge you. Let’s make this happen. Stay alert for my next post on how to cause political change. Meantime, pick a movement and see how you can get involved in political action in your town!