Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Miserly Safety Net: Another Modest Proposal

In the past, I've extolled the virtues of the miserly safety net, especially when it comes to housing.  It just occurred to me that it might be possible to expand this net to cover all the essentials of life.

When I think about the essentials of life in the United States, it boils down to four simple things:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Healthcare
  • Education
We have specific programs aimed at food, healthcare (Medicaid), and education, which is why I concentrated on shelter in my last modest proposal.  But what if we aimed for an all-in-one solution?

Imagine public housing developments with the following characteristics, in addition to providing free (if spartan) accommodations:
  • Unlimited supply of Soylent-like nutrition products (this would allow people to get a free and nutritionally complete--if bland--diet)
  • Weekly clinical visits by a nurse practitioner for basic and preventative healthcare
  • Unlimited access to MOOCs, with weekly visits by an educational "concierge" to help take advantage of those offerings
Socialism?  Perhaps.  But this seems like the kind of socialism that would save money over our current, all-too-porous safety net.  It also seems like a more interesting experiment to run than a basic income program.

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