The Atlantic has just published a list of 15 articles/proposals - titled as "15 ways to fix the world."Some of the ideas are IMO crazy, and at least one of the ideas is purely cosmetic. However, every one of the ideas is designed to make readers think in different paradigms. On the flip, I summarize these proposals, hopefully to entice you to read further. I am not employed by or otherwise connected to the Atlantic.
The fifteen proposals:
- Rent Your Own Home
- Unleash the Dogs of Peace
- Give Up on Democracy in Afghanistan
- Privatize the Seas
- Tell the Truth About Colleges
- Welcome Guest Workers
- Pay the Artists
- End All Taxes—Except One
- Civilize Homeland Security
- End the Corporate Income Tax
- Redesign the Dollar
- End the Vice Presidency
- Teach Drinking
- Buy to Last
- Train Detroit
In the spirit of Jonathan Swift,
The Atlantic offers a few modest proposals for making the world a better place.
. They also quote President Obama, who suggests:
Make no little plans.
In that spirit, I summarize each of these proposals (authors in parenthesis) for your review.
- Rent your own home (Felix Salmon)
a decree that whenever a bank forecloses on a home, the current occupant has the right to remain in the property indefinitely, simply by paying the fair-market rent.
It provides a cash flow for homes that often can't be sold, at least in the current market.
- Unleash the dogs of peace (James Gibney)
Gibney suggests that we deploy private firms like Xe (nee Blackwater) to peacekeeping duties especially where the UN would be ineffective (or is unwilling to go).
- Give up on Democracy in Afghanistan (Andrew Bacevich)
We've been in Afghanistan for 8 years. We should realize by now that
the attempt to create a cohesive nation-state governed from Kabul (something that has never existed in modern times) is a fool’s errand.
Bacevich further suggests this errand would probably cost us at least as much as the war in Iraq ($1 trillion, so far).
- Privatize the Seas (Gregg Easterbrook)
It suggests a system for resource (fishery) conservation that sounds a lot like "cap and trade" to me, building on the success of Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland in their fishery management practices, extending these practices to now international waters.
- Tell the truth about colleges (Thomas Toch)
Toch suggests that some colleges are reluctant to report on what their students learn, as the quality of the education may not match the reputation of the educational institution (Danger, danger, Ivy League!)
- Welcome Guest Workers (Kerry Howley)
The basic argument is a measured guest worker program would provide more help than foreign aid.
- Pay the Artists (Felix Salmon)
If we're really interested in stimulus:
Arts spending is fantastic at creating employment: for every $30,000 or so spent on the arts, one more person gets a job, compared with about $1 million if you’re building a road or hospital.
- End all taxes - Except one (Reihan Salam)
The focus here is on the property tax. Higher property taxes would discourage speculation. (This proposal seems really nutty to me, but it does make me think about different kinds of wealth.)
- Civilize Homeland Security (James Fallows)
While Fallows suggests that DHS was a mistake, undoing it would be worse. The following quote is sort of his mission statement for his proposed "Department of Civil Security":
And make civil-security spending what national-security spending was in the Eisenhower era, when interstate-highway-building and language-teaching were all part of "national defense": an umbrella for investments in new energy and water supplies, public health, basic research, and other efforts that will actually make us more secure.
Fallows has a great record of thinking about big ideas - anyone read "More Like Us - Making America Great Again"?
- End the Corporate Income Tax (Megan McArdle)
McArdle suggests replacing the corporate income tax with higher taxes on capital gains and dividends. To me, this sounds like a way to end "double taxation" while retaining a progressive tax system.
- Redesign the Dollar (Michael Bierut)
Bierut suggests that a cosmetic change to our paper money should go with the changes we're (supposedly) making to the financial system.
- End the Vice Presidency (Matthew Yglesias)
Yglesias's proposal is in part a reaction to the extra-constitutional role assumed by Cheney in the previous administration.
- Teach Drinking (John McCardell)
Include drinking-ed with sex-ed. I think it's a great idea.
- Buy to Last (Ellen Ruppel Shell)
Anyone who loves Ikea (including me) will probably dislike this proposal. But the environmental benefits may be compelling.
- Train Detroit (Bruce Selcraig)
Selcraig suggests a more focused approach to building a new rail system, including the use of workers and facilities now displaced in the Detroit area:
Of course, railroads helping to rescue Detroit would be sweet irony. It was General Motors, after all—in cahoots with a number of other companies—that set out to cripple mass transit in America, including the electric streetcars that once trundled through Detroit and Flint.