So what is a realistic expectation for taking care of all the people of the world? Our idyllic student model from earlier in this series provided on-campus students with a creative and stimulating environment where they could pursue their hopes and dreams without having to struggle to meet their day-to-day survival needs – to secure clean water, food, clothing, healthcare, housing, employment and transportation for themselves – and this is what we need to do as well for all the world’s people. But how? For the sake of this discussion we’ll start off with a generic family of four, with an annual household income of $80,000 in the Midwest portion of the United States; taking into account that the cost-of-living varies greatly both within the U.S. and around the world, so our figures would have to be indexed for an area’s cost-of-living and inflation if we are to be realistic.
If our baseline is $80,000 per year for a family of four – which is by no means an excessive lifestyle by today’s standards – then we’ll say that the minimum amount of support for a family of three would require $60,000, a family of two would require $40,000 and a single person would require $20,000 per year for the purpose of this discussion. The 2009 Federal Poverty Guidelines are considerably lower than my baseline: a single individual requires $10,830, a household of two people requires $14,570, a household of three people requires $18,310, and a household of four people requires $22,050; so in effect my goal is to provide almost double the assistance to individuals in the United States and more than triple the level of today’s assistance for a family of four. If everyone in the world were able to be supported in a decent manner as in this example, then individuals and families would be closer to the goal of realizing their hopes and dreams, because they wouldn’t have to struggle just to meet their basic needs on a daily basis. But the key question is, how can we as a world manage to, “float all boats on a rising tide” and lift everyone up to a decent lifestyle – when so many people live in impoverished situations and communities today?
In today’s world the greatest cost and setback against achieving this level of commitment for the world’s people is the physical and financial cost of conducting war as well as the huge cost of today’s military budgets, along with the disproportionate and uneven distribution of the world’s assets in certain countries and geographic areas of the world. The primary solution of course is for the leaders of the world to do their primary duty and responsibility to choose peace through love for their citizens and for the world – and to convince the uncooperative few remaining countries that it is in their own national interest to choose peace through love as well. With that task accomplished, governments can disarm to a, “defensive only posture” and save tremendous costs by reducing the size of their military budgets – which is essentially what the governments of most western nations have been doing since the end of the Cold War – while allowing the U.S. to guarantee their protection. There are only a few countries of the world with major military expenditures remaining today, so this goal is closer than it might seem at first glance.
So how can we afford to raise everyone’s standard of living to the equivalent of an annual income of $80,000 for a family of four? A great reduction in military budgets world-wide is the starting point to actually be able to accomplish this. If we were then to formalize a transfer of wealth from rich nations to poor nations around the world based on, “equity” – everyone would say that the dreaded, “one world government” is raising its ugly head – which is not the point here at all as nations should stay independent and make decisions for themselves, but also take into consideration the morality of their decisions as they make them. The real key that I want to describe in detail now is how to do two main things: convince people to reach out and make independent decisions to help support others outside their immediate family, and to write into the tax code a way for families to earn credit for helping others outside their immediate family without penalty to themselves or those that receive the assistance.
In this discussion everyone would receive a baseline of $20,000 in support from the government as a way to keep them from falling below the subsistence level. If you earn $20,000 or more for yourself and your family on a per person basis, you begin to earn credits from the government because you are not a burden of support to the government, so every dollar you provide in turn to another family for their support is a dollar that the government doesn’t have to provide to support them either, so you then receive a dollar for dollar tax credit for doing so – yes taxes will still exist on let’s say a rate of 10% federal, 5% state and 5% local basis – with the only tax deductions available being the direct support of others, tracked through wire transfer deposits into the other person’s account. In this manner, the burden of helping out those people who are struggling today does not need to be met by the government alone – but through each other as well – as we see and meet the need in others around us in our extended family, in our community and overseas where the need remains the highest. Our family has been helping where we can to support a struggling single mother of two for decades now, as well as for our adult son who still lives at home while working and pursuing an Engineering degree; and in the Christian spirit of practicing what I believe – we have increased our level of support while the economy has continued to suffer. I know that other families also do this around the world as well, and I truly believe the era of, “more for me” has begun to swing to a new philosophy of, “less is more” and, “us together.”
A century ago there really wasn’t a concept of, “retirement” or, “Social Security.” Everyone knew they had to work in order to survive, and if they couldn’t work, were disabled, elderly or sick – family, neighbors, churches and/or charities stepped in to assist them if possible – because nursing homes and medical care were not often available. Multi-generational living was the norm, and it wasn’t uncommon for three or more generations to live under the same roof. In those days people were forced to get along and compromise, and after a century of rising expectations where houses have continued to get larger every decade with fewer people living under one roof – people are beginning to choose a new way. Only in the past year or so with the recent recession and economic slow-down, have people begun to look back on the way it has always been; often deciding that, “more is not always better” and in many cases, “less is actually more.” Families have begun moving back together under a single roof – with grown children moving back home often as single parents – because of the cost of supporting a separate household has become so expensive today. Families are also discovering that a garden full of vegetables is nice to have in the back yard – or front yard – instead of a manicured lawn, because you can actually eat the vegetables you grow yourself. So in many respects this trend of multi-generational living is really a, “back to basics” approach to begin living as we once did prior to continuously rising expectations, and because it can be much more rewarding as well to share with each other what we own.
If we now put on our, “rose-colored glasses” and peer a short way into the future, we will be able to see that: peace through love has arrived in our world; countries are disarming and reducing their military budgets around the world; multi-generational families are choosing to live together under one roof and support each other as well as total strangers – because their generosity is rewarded through changes in the tax code and a new realization that it is the right and moral decision to do because we are in fact our, “brother’s keeper.” What part of this puzzle still remains to be solved then? The distribution of infrastructure and capital around the world today remains uneven and concentrated in what we call the, “developed” nations of our world. How can we help to provide assistance to the, “undeveloped” and, “under developed” countries of the world then?
Governments, charities and individuals today are contributing to these under developed areas around the word, and so much more needs to be accomplished – but how? First of all, renewable energy resources like wind power and solar power can help to bring electricity to these areas without major investment in modern powerplants. Technological improvements should assist in bringing under developed areas into the 21st Century with one major key hope – the discovery of untapped resources and commercial ventures in these under developed areas. Many of these areas are discovering gas, oil and minerals; while others have a wealth of, “eco-tourism” potential that needs to be developed; and yet others only need the threat of war and conflict to be removed for them, to be able to quickly develop their countries themselves in a state of peace and prosperity.
There is so much promise in our world that has never been as close to being attainable as it is today. The people of the world community cry out for peace and prosperity, the end of war and conflict, and the morality of hearts choosing to do the right thing – between people, between communities and between governments. Peace is achievable in our day, and the only true and lasting peace is the peace that arrives through love – love for who we are as people, love for each other as neighbors, love for each other as friends, and love for each other as communities and members of the free nations of the world – as we all traverse this amazing solar system on such a perfect and hospitable planet that we all share and call Earth.