2014 was a year like many others, only worse. Not for us a catalogue of disaster. We’re looking ahead hopefully – with just a little snarking involved.
What baffles us, for example, is the amount spent on the 2014 election. Approximately 400 million dollars.
Then we think of the millions spent each year in public and private money developing new and exciting ways to teach our children sciences, math, English, and trades and talents in order that they might grow into useful and sane human beings.
For a sample of what we mean, turn on PBS any night of the week and watch and listen to the brain-storms of educators across the country concocting different ways of reaching our kids. Every program is individual. Every program is individually funded by someone. And almost all fade into the woodwork within 6 months.
Local school boards want their bailiwicks to be independent. Often they want their own special textbooks. They’ll give up music, arts, football even in order to get another new reaching-out under way.
This directly corresponds to the millions of public and private dollars spent each year trying to make a difference in the lives of the poor, the under-educated, the under-employed, the needy, the hungry. Whether rural, suburban, or citified, millions are sinking under the load of needing new skills, budgeting, saving, planning.
Endless theories abound. People won’t work if they can be supported by government bailouts of one kind or another. The unemployment percentages of youth in summer and in fact year round militate against ambition. Race relations keep a clear view of a healthy future from emerging from a bloody fog.
We’re at war, still. The Armed Forces manage to entice and later even to help young people make a mark in the world. But the number of volunteer warriors is falling, recruitment levels are hardly met, and the experiences of returning vets is dismal.
So here is a thought – a single, small thought- that may be valuable in the long run, and maybe even in the short. Since there is evidently more than enough money to waste in this country, on pleasures, politics, travel, sports, gambling and fame – not to mention available for start-ups – why not try to corral some of this for specific and geographically diffuse efforts at improving the lives of US Citizens?
We are blessed to have a native generosity here in the US. People who make billions often share. The problem is that their sharing is not sensibly directed. Apart from Bill and Melinda Gates and a few others, including foundations, no one contributes to a cause he or she wants to see all the way through to eradication.
Ah-hah! Why not canvass the very rich and suggest what, in their worlds, is really very little money for a unified effort at eradicating X or Y or Z? Ask each, say, for ten millions bucks. Then with the guidance of a responsible and thoughtful board of directors, one that is also totally apolitical, energize people to help solve X or Y or Z in six months.
Pick rural counties, small towns, urban colossi, suburban outlands and attack just one problem limitedly to see whether in fact the problem can be solved at all, rather than endlessly just throwing funds at it and hoping. Forget about naming buildings after ourselves. Do this quietly, anonymously.
Pick four settlements: a small town, a suburban dreamland, an urban blight, a failing county structure…but all of the same size. If there are no analogous entities like these, draw them up so they roughly correspond in terms of population and problems.
Then take a mere one hundred million dollars from our new fund and begin, slowly, to unwind these Gordian knots gradually, from the ground up. Let the very rich get a chance at creating jobs from the bottom of the pile, rather than from the top. 25 million goes to Riverside County in California; 25 million goes to Ft. Pierce, Florida; 25 million goes to Albuquerque, New Mexico; 25 million goes to a three-block enclave in the Bronx.
Try to make certain each person within these limited scenes is fed sufficiently, sheltered well, dressed warmly, has access to psychological guidance and assistance, has equal access to career guidance and assistance.
Include in each residential/commercial setting the local police and firemen, health workers, a school, an industry that may be failing but could surprise us all by succeeding.
Limit this effort to six months.
It is our contention that people seeing and understanding what they have to gain by maintaining the level of life satisfaction they have had for four months will work very hard to maintain that same level for the remaining two. And if we’re right, they’ll continue to work hard to make permanent changes in their surroundings, in their lives and careers, in their very ability to become what they’ve been sold as every American’s destiny. Regardless of race or religion, people offered a leg up will take it. Even if it means actually doing something to assist themselves.
If after six months have elapsed, no changes can be documented, no improvements identified, no new pride and ambition evident, then we can always go back to the old American solution of throwing more money down the rabbit hole.