Some of you will not like these solutions… I get it. Some of these are pretty radical. But, the fact remains, doing all of (or even some of) these things that I spell out below would help combat the economic crisis in the US, The Great Slide I call it, of the working class into poverty (which we’re seeing manifest itself currently in housing, labor, cost of education, cost of healthcare, and more). Some of these ideas are tweaks, and some are fundamental changes. The harsh reality is, the status quo created the problem, and only significant change can provide solutions.
These are ideas for solutions. I don’t know how much these ideas would cost. I don’t know where the money would come from. And I don’t know how they could be done politically. I just know that they would fight the problem. Maybe it’s too much too fast. I don’t know. I’ll leave that to you all.
The Solutions (whether we like them or not):
1. Cap Interest on Any Loan at 5%
Impose a cap on any and all loans of 5% – credit cards, banks, mortgages, etc. This includes both the government’s portion and the private lender’s piece. If the government has to raise interest rates, it is decreasing bank profits on their loans, not increases the interest rate charged to the consumer (at least up to a certain increase, after which the burden would be shared with the consumer).
2. Disallow Front-Loading of Interest
Disallow lenders to stack the interest on the front side of the loan, and require that all loans have the interest spread evenly throughout the life of the loan.
3. Create Universal Bank Accounts
Provide a bank account to every adult.
4. Provide Universal Income
Provide a universal income to all adults in the US.
5. Create Universal 401k Accounts
Create a 401k account for every adult in the US with a required 5% of income contribution. Make the whole contribution pre-tax, with up to the first $10k of that contribution per year going into a Roth (or some mechanism that will not be taxed upon withdrawal) and any further amounts into a traditional IRA (or into some even better mechanism).
6. Require Banks to Share Investment Returns with Customers
Require that banks pay 50% of any money that they make from investing or trading their customers’ money back to the customers themselves. This would mean that everyone would benefit from the strength of the market, not just the banks and their shareholders.
7. Distribute 25% of All Stock Market Gains Across All of the Public’s Retirement Accounts
Make 25% of any stock market transaction return be public domain and be evenly distributed across all universal 401Ks, again assuring that the strength of the market serves everyone.
8. Limit the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction to One Property
Make the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction apply only property (as opposed to two, as it is currently).
9. Create a Renter Tax Deduction
Create a deduction for renters to be able to get the same style tax benefits as homeowners.
10. Create Tax Incentives for Landlord Owners of Single Family Houses to Sell to Occupants
Create incentives for landlord owners to sell the houses to their occupants. For example, we could make the capital gains free from taxation when the house is sold to its occupants. Also, there could be structures for easy and regulated financing options by the owner in the form of a rent-to-own model. This way the owner is collecting monthly payments and owes no taxes on that money. And the occupant is buying the house by paying rent (eliminating the barrier to entry that is the down-payment on a mortgage).
11. Create Tax Disincentives for Landlords of Single Family Units to Continue to Own the Property Over Time
In cooperation with incentives would be disincentives for landlords to retain the ownership of rental houses over time.
12. Create Tax Deductions for Paying Off Debt
Create a tax deduction for a portion of the principal of debt paid off in any given year, thus incentivizing the paying off of debt when you have cash.
13. Raise the Minimum Wage
Raise the minimum wage (including for servers) to $15 per hour (federal) + Cost of Living (state, county, municipal). This is a necessity for our economic system.
14. Remove Government-Imposed Costs on Hiring and Employing People
Remove any taxes or fees imposed by the municipal, county, state, or federal governments on a business in relation to that business hiring someone, employing someone, or paying someone to work. Currently, employing someone costs about 25% more than their salary. Much of that is government imposed costs (taxes, fees, etc.). This disincentivizes businesses from hiring and disables them from being able to pay better wages.
15. Redesign Healthcare
Redesign our healthcare system so that healthcare can be provided to everyone at no cost. Remove the bloated HMO and insurance industry all together. And remove the employer completely from the equation.
16. Provide Free Secondary Education
We already pay through the 12th grade, the benefits of making it through the 14th grade are significant.
17. Provide Free Daycare and Early Childhood Services
These are some of the greatest determiners of individual success.
18. Change The Way We Develop Housing
We have to find ways to create smart, quality, desirable density so that we can accommodate the people at an affordable cost.
19. Provide Universal Internet Connectivity
Those who don’t have access are left out. Plus, this can cut down on transportation needs.
20. Provide Universal Transportation
Transportation is the largest cost to individuals in poverty and the largest cost to a community in terms of traffic, pollution, and infrastructure needs. Providing shared, public transportation will grease the wheels of the economy by allowing vastly greater mobility among the population without compounding increases in costs created by an over-reliance on the automobile.
I Did Try to Tell You
So, there you go. I told you that many of you wouldn’t like these solutions. And, like I said, I don’t know how exactly we would go about doing these things. But if we want to succeed, we need to figure out a way.