The last 30 years has seen a slow slide of living standards for the working and middle classes in this country. With little inflation-adjusted movement in wages, the increase in health care, housing, food, and other vital costs have been made that much worse.
The offshoring of jobs has largely been behind this trend, leaving ordinary people scrambling to find decent replacement jobs in the wake of their departure.
The decent jobs that do exist these days requires a college education, necessitating the assumption of crippling amounts of student debt, effectively impoverishing re-training adults and youth for decades.
This has caused economic stagnation, the escalation of civil tensions, a startling epidemic of drug addiction and overdoses, and crime that is increasingly fuelled by desperation rather than by psychopathy.
We can no longer ignore these problems – Larry Polhill has been sounding the alarm on this for years, as he has seen the slow-motion slide into despair many communities across the country have suffered.
Poverty is a systemic issue that can be solved through intelligent policies. Below, we’ll demonstrate how the enactment of just a few of these can end poverty within the next few decades.
Policy #1: universal basic income
For all its technological innovation, the 2020s are shaping up to be a time of pain for workers in many industries.
Self-driving vehicles will likely be the biggest driver of technological unemployment, as they will turf most cabbies and truck drivers to the curb by the end of next decade.
With the transport industry employing large numbers of Americans, this is a very serious issue.
With no obvious place for most displaced workers to go, poverty-related problems will explode if nothing is done.
This fact has even got former President Barack Obama talking about UBI, or universal basic income, as our free market economy may collapse if massive amounts of workers suddenly have no money to spend.
As a result of this pending crisis, research is currently being conducted to gauge the effects of instituting a UBI, and what amounts will be necessary to hold poverty at bay for the entire population.
Common examples cite a stipend of roughly $1,000 per month. This will help to keep the lights on and poor people fed, they will help fund education for re-training workers and youth, and those looking to open their own business will have a safety net under them as they try to launch their idea.
Policy #2: affordable housing for the poor
With steady increases in the cost of living and insufficient raises in the paychecks of the average person, it shouldn’t be surprising homeless populations have remained stubbornly high in recent year.
Strategies aimed at treating mindset and addiction haven’t had the desired effect, as they treat the symptoms of homelessness rather than root causes.
Until the tremendous imbalance between income and housing costs is rectified, the next best solution lies in constructing affordable homes and giving them to the homeless.
Salt Lake City had the courage to do just that, and is now on the cusp of eliminating its homeless problem. Should others follow suit, we will solve one of the biggest threats to the human safety of the most vulnerable among us.
Policy #3: Make higher education and health care free for all
One of the biggest hurdles to the elimination of poverty in America is its abysmal health care system. While it provides outstanding outcomes for those who can afford to pay its exorbitant prices, it leaves everybody else at the mercy of insurance companies.
Another roadblock can be found in the soaring cost of a post-secondary degree. With even in-state tuition at certain state schools cresting five figures these days, re-tooling workers and young people are forced to take on crushing debt loads which greatly limit their standard of living for decades after receiving their diploma.
By making health care and education free for all people, thousands of lives would be saved every year, employment mobility would be increased, incomes would rise and money would be saved even after taxes, as sky-high health insurance premiums would become a thing of the past.