End poverty: off topic
It has been said that in order to study malnutrition in America, you have to redefine the word.  If you use the usual global definition you don’t have anybody to count.  That’s rather cheerful news.  But let’s go farther.  The poverty level in the US was set in 2014 at $23,850 for a family of four or $11,720 for a single person living alone.  Let’s go with the family and say if everybody had $6,000 given to them then nobody would be poor except by choice.  There are, after all, such things as roommates.  Failing that, one can build adequate dormitories that are a lot cheaper than apartments on a per person basis. 

If there are 6 billion people in the world then $36 six trillion would be enough to give everybody that much money – man, woman and child, elderly and prisoners included.  It comes out to being $500 per person per week.

The world’s gross domestic product is, in 1990 dollars, $77.868 trillion.  36/77.868 = about 46% is all it would take to make it happen.  That seems high, but remember everybody is getting their $6,000. If your current tax rate is 30%, and that rate goes up to 46%, you are paying 16% more.  If you are making less than $36,500 the change will only increase your income.  It will throw nobody into poverty. 

Raising that kind of money would be hard.  “Tax freedom day,” is April 6.  Up until then all your money goes, so to speak, to income tax.  That’s only about 25 %.  But to that you need to add property tax, sales tax, gasoline tax and so forth, and do it for the whole world.  We’re pretty close to having that much money sloshing around anyway. 

Of course the government is spending more, a lot more, on other things, notably interest on national debt, the military and nice houses for all those elected officials.  There are subsidies for things like fossil fuel extraction, for goodness sake, and agricultural subsidies for the agribusiness factory farms that have driven so many family farms out of existence.  But a lot of that can be cut.  Remember, the average Joe is supporting a household on about $50,000 a year.  Yeah, he is the one who loses out to the tune of: 50,000 – 36,500 X .16 = $2,160 or more if he is paying less than 30 % now, all taxes included.  And of course there are those countries that won’t pony up their share, particularly the ones that will benefit the most.  But it’s not totally out of the question.  As the global gross domestic product grows, some day it may be possible.

The landmine, or what has been the landmine, in this trail is of course how do you get the money to the people?  Suppose you go to one of the poorest countries now and say to the dictator, “Here’s $500 a week for everybody in your country.  Please be kind and divide it up and hand it out.”  How much will find its way to the people?  Not much, I’m sure.  Even given total honesty and the best will in the world, that would be a terribly expensive proposition.  And alas there are such things as graft and inefficiency.  The situation is so bad that the argument is made with a straight face that immigrant workers are the best way of getting money to the poorest; they send money home.  Of course that means the brightest and best are not home to help out nor to contribute their talents to bettering the government, not to mention the catastrophic effect immigration has on the fertility of everybody involved. 

But now getting money to the people is the easy part.  Get this: Amazon has just come out with a tablet that costs under $50 dollars.  Everybody can afford one on less than one day’s worth of the income they are being given.  There is no need even for people to do much to set up accounts.  Anybody just picks up a tablet, any tablet with photo capability, GPS and an internet connection, and activates an app, which duly does a retina scan, takes a picture of the face and surrounding, notes time and GPS location and says how much money is available.  Apps already exist for spending the money out of that account, and of course that leaves a superb digital trail for anybody who is up to no good.  The money can accumulate.  I will take some head scratching to decide if he can add to it. 


give every man woman and child in the world $500 a week.  Presto.  There is no more poverty. 

So back to ordinary Joe, who funded this thing in the first place.  Presumably he (or she) has a job or wouldn’t mind having one.  If he’d rather stay economically marginal, fine and dandy.  Right now he’s hustling his (or her) stumps to make that fifty grand.  But now everybody in the world is rich, or at least not poor.  There is a lot more work to do so jobs are plentiful and pay well. 

There of course are going to be displacements, problems.  These can be addressed in their turn.  (Prisoners might accumulate their money or might be forced by their jailers to be scanned and the account drained.  Much can be softened by phasing the program in over a few years.  Suppose you start out with $5 a week per person with the US alone participating.  We could afford that and, with a nod to Joe, not even raise taxes.  He’s going to be paying more tax just because he’s going to be earning more money.  Those dollars of course are going to come home to roost, after having done a lot of work on the way.  Oh, dear.  Inflation.

Well the central banks want to peg inflation at 2%.  It’s almost zero now.  But they want to raise it in order to force people to spend their money sooner because it will be worth less later.  For me that is stealing from your children, but we do that already.  I think somebody whose family is starving just might go ahead and spend the money anyway.  So when those dollars return and start to bid up the price of goods here, then they’ll have their chance to raise interest rates as well as having enough inflation to satisfy their grubby little stomachs.  

Then there’s the environment.  Ah, hmm, yes, the environment.  That’s going to need super massive protection at time when public money is poring into the social safety net.  That many people who are now lying around undernourished finding themselves adequately funded are going to make demands on the environment that are tough to meet. Of course a lot of them are already hurting the environment out of desperation.  Are you really going to go out and slaughter endangered animals when you can afford nice fresh ordinary food? 

Funding the national debts is just a matter of pushing paper around.  All that really matters is that it be done prudently enough so as not to crash the world monetary system.  Why it hasn’t crashed so far is beyond me.

It should be possible to reduce the military.  Desperate people are dangerous.  Buying them off might be cheaper than trying to shoot them.

Then of course there’s medical care.  You can spend an infinite amount on it.  Well it seems that way.  But somebody has said that ninety percent of each medical care dollar goes to the administration of insurance policies.  There’s room for more saving there.

Of course as the money comes home, having done a lot of hard work on the way, our economy will be groaning at the seams as we deliver on goods and serviced.  Every other country is going to want to get into the game if they can afford the temporary drain.  Do you want to help a place like Haiti?  Just give them a temporary boost in their allowance.  You know who they are; you have the GPS location. 

It’s just a thought.  Probably no such program is practicable now, even starting at $5 per person per week and raising it slowly.  At $5 it’s not worth it to keep somebody unjustly in prison just to tap his allowance.  That becomes a problem later as the number goes up.  As I said, maybe it can’t be done now, but as growth rates stabilize and the world as a whole gets richer, it would be within our grasp some day … would be … it would be nice … there’s no reason we can’t except … of course … that fertility thing.  When average Joe goes from one and a half children on average to none, that there’s going to be a problem that no amount of tax money nor number of Amazon tablets can fix. 

But I’m working on it.  If more people came by and took an interest, I’d be a little more optimistic.

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