“Finland and Sweden have national health care, free college, affordable housing and a higher standard of living… Why shouldn’t that appeal to our disappearing middle class?”
Like millions of Americans, I am inspired by Bernie Sanders*. He’s a true progressive – compassionate, intelligent, and full of solutions. He embodies a core principle of progressive thought: the willingness to identify problems and solve them with government. Unlike so many free-market advocates, he isn’t dogmatically attached to old economic doctrines.
His solutions are simple: if workers are getting paid too little, then let’s raise their wages. If people don’t have health insurance, then let’s get them health insurance. Our society is wealthy enough to solve these problems; we just have to be smart about it.
So, this article is an extension of Bernie’s progressive worldview. The economy is like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, and we can finally solve it with the right plan.
Buy It, Break It
Economics is sometimes counter-intuitive. For example, natural disasters – though they appear purely destructive – can sometimes boost an economy. When stuff gets destroyed, people have to replace it, which increases spending in the economy and creates new jobs.
But there’s a problem: natural disasters are unpredictable. We can’t always count on them to strike at the right time. So, I’ve thought of a solution to capture all of the economic benefits of destruction, without having to rely on the weather:
Let’s manufacture more defects into our goods.
If we make stuff that breaks sooner, we’ll regularly spend money on repairs, which would be a constant stimulate the economy. I propose a one-year-maximum on the durability of goods. We could do this for everything – cars, blenders, computer software, etc. Imagine how many plumbing jobs would be created if every household had a self-destructing toilet that needed repairs every month!
Debt to Pay
Consumption is the engine of the economy. The more people spend, the more they stimulate the economy. This is true in reverse: when people save money, they reduce aggregate demand and slow down the economy. This phenomenon is called the “paradox of thrift”.
This economy desperately needs a jolt of increased consumer spending. What’s holding people back?
Debt. Specifically, their student loan and credit card debt. Having a bunch of debt weighs down the economy, and I see a simple solution:
Have the government pay off everybody’s debt.
Isn’t it obvious? If all of your debt disappeared overnight, you would have a ton more money to spend. The economic stimulus would be enormous! Millions of people would immediately go out and purchase new cars, phones, homes, TVs, etc., which would create countless jobs.
Think about it this way: millions of people struggle to pay their bills. The government never struggles to pay its bills – it can’t go bankrupt. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to have the government pay the bills instead? It’s like having an infinitely rich uncle. Dropping $20,000 wouldn’t affect him, but it could completely change the life of his poor nephew.
There’s also a moral principle at play here:
The person who can pay the debt should pay the debt. The person who can not, should not.
Losses Into Wins
While debt may burden the economy, it’s not the underlying problem that plagues market economies. Unemployment, bankruptcy, and poverty are all symptoms that have the same cause. It’s because of monetary loss. Eliminate the losses, and you eliminate the problem altogether.
It’s not fair that Mom and Pop businesses have to close down just because “they aren’t making enough money”. Parents shouldn’t worry about losing their jobs, just because their employer is “losing money by employing them”. We’re a better society than that, which is why I propose a compassionate solution:
Eliminate all losses in the economy.
Every month, individuals and businesses should be able to submit their expenses to the government. If they are in the red, the government should reimburse the difference. Think of the enormous economic gains. You would have a) full employment, as nobody would have to lose their jobs, b) no bankruptcy, as businesses could remain open without having to worry about profits, and c) every individual enabled to pursue their dreams, regardless of the economic constraints.
Mom and Pop wouldn’t have to close down just because “they couldn’t turn a profit.” No artist would have to crush his dreams just because “nobody valued his product.” A society not worried about money is a society that can focus on higher goals.
This world is within our reach; we simply need the willpower to overcome our inertia. Governments raised generations out of poverty, saved children from child labor, and ended the Great Depression – all because strong leaders had the courage to write down their brilliant ideas and turn them into law.
I hope that progressives like Bernie Sanders will read these proposals and get inspired to turn them into a reality. Our future doesn’t need to rest in the hands of greedy businessmen; we can find smarter ways to solve our problems.
To read about my actual political beliefs, read this.