Over the last generation, workers in developed nations have had their living standards eroded significantly.
As industries began to move offshore in search of cheaper labor, they left their former employees to grapple with a stark choice: accept slave wages or go deep into debt to get an education that wouldn’t necessarily guarantee they would get a job after years of school.
Whichever option they chose, the end result was the same: higher crime, increased rates of addiction, and a pervading sense of hopelessness.
In recent years, this slow-motion crisis has finally had consequences for the elite in our society, leading politicians and business leaders to finally speak up regarding growing inequality in North America and elsewhere in the world.
Larry Polhill has been sounding the alarm for a while now, and it’s about time they listened. In time, mass poverty affects us all, and no amount of gated communities, electric fences, or private security firms will change that.
He has called for a government-led effort to eliminate poverty so that no person will ever have to suffer its soul-destroying effects again.
There is much we can do to make this happen – below, we’ll run down a few policies that will serve to alleviate the misery of many.
1) Implement a universal basic income
It is only a matter of time before the forces of artificial intelligence, automation, and outsourcing displace enough jobs that the streets of Europe and America will begin to resemble those in Brazil or South Africa.
Don’t believe us? Self-driving vehicles are set to replace the majority of taxi drivers, truck drivers, and many jobs supported by them in the next decade. Transport is America’s #1 industry as of 2017, making the potential impact of this innovation enormous.
This unavoidable trend will cause unemployment to soar well above 10%, and with no obvious candidate offering replacement jobs at this time, it will remain stubbornly high through the 2020s and beyond.
As a result of this foreseen future, smart people like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and former President Barack Obama have begun to discuss the establishment of a universal basic income.
With studies underway across the world, and previous case studies pointing toward improved health, safety, and economic outcomes, it is likely that this program will be rolled out in various models over the next decade or two.
It will allow the common person to afford food, pay their bills, and keep a roof over their head without needing to have a job as a pre-condition.
Not only will common markers of poverty plummet, but economic growth will likely explode, as people will be able to use most or all of their earned wages/salary as disposable income, and the time freedom that UBI will grant will allow entrepreneurship to thrive.
2) Build affordable housing for those who require it
The homeless have long been derided by the privileged, but it really isn’t their fault. Thanks to an increase in living costs due to gentrification and a subsequent decrease in well-paying jobs, most are forced out of their homes despite their best efforts.
Cities have struggled to stem this problem using self-empowerment and drug-cleansing efforts – while this did help alleviate some issues, they have not successfully addressed the root causes of homelessness.
Recently, though, cities like Salt Lake City have achieved lasting results by doing something that is patently obvious to some: they built affordable units for the homeless and moved them in.
Doing so has reduced their on-street population drastically, and soon, they may become the first city in the USA to have ended homelessness for good.
3) Provide universal education and health care
While one or both of these initiatives have already been implemented by some developed countries, those lacking them can do much to eliminate poverty in their territories by instituting universal higher education and health care.
The former allows displaced workers and young people to gain the skills they’ll need to gain employment in emerging sectors without saddling themselves with crippling debt loads, while the latter prevents private insurance companies from reneging on payouts that would save lives.
Yes, taxes would increase as a result, but the long term savings would cost people less while vastly improving their quality of life.