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.

1 thought on “The Miserly Safety Net: Another Modest Proposal

  1. I've been doing work with my wife along this line of thought. We narrowed it down to 14 systems (of three types): Basic systems – Community, nutrition, healthcare, safespace, and nature. Exchange systems – transportation, communication, diplomacy, imports, and exports. Privileged systems – education, self expression, faith, and celebration.

    Today we were talking about how health has three main factors; nutrition, limiting exposure & detoxing from toxic chemicals, and maintaining positive mental/social life.

    Getting people self motivated we decided was too difficult, so we designed 5 companies that would essentially build a self sufficient economy that met every human's needs from scratch. I loved the heart behind your miserly safety net. Would you be willing to talk more about the state of the world/solutions?

    – Thomas

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