In the times of the global pandemic claiming millions of lives, disastrous plagues of locusts, wildfires of epic proportions, unrest on the left and right threatening to destabilize the world’s super power, sabre-rattling in China and Russia, and a genocide-induced famine in Ethiopia, you may be able to relate to my feelings that we were entering some kind of doomsday as I approached my 33rd birthday.
Sitting comfortably at my investment fund in the Bay Area, I saw the world burning around me and asked myself, “What can I do? I’m just one person.” Being the data-driven thinker that I am, I decided to research the impact of great individuals across history, searching for those that have made the world a little bit better, against the odds. Headed into my Jesus year, I figured who better than the man Himself?
If we put aside the miracles for a second, most of what Jesus did was preach to people about loving one another. Specifically, he walked amongst lepers, sex workers, tax collectors and the like, and demonstrated that all people were deserving of love and help. He was the world’s biggest proponent of helping the poor, providing them with bread, fish, healthcare, and more, all without demanding a single hour of work from the recipients.
I drove around Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, seeing the poverty that rivals the poorest nations on the planet, and had my eureka moment. I figured out how to end poverty instantly, all while saving taxpayers trillions of dollars.
Ending poverty, it turns out, is very easy.
First, a few definitions. Poverty can be either relative, or absolute. I am referring here to absolute poverty, which I define as not having enough money to purchase basic food, clothing, shelter, and transportation.
Second, there are many estimates for what this absolute poverty line should be. I will refer to the federal poverty guidelines, which the U.S. government sets each year, adjusting for inflation, to determine how much money a household of a given size requires to purchase the above-mentioned essentials.
My proposed Seed Money Act guarantees that every American household will receive seed money grants equal to these federal poverty guidelines. The seed money will be distributed in 24 installments on the 1st and 15th of each month. Seed Money does not count as earned income, cannot be taxed, cannot be garnished, and except for acts of terrorism, cannot be taken away by the government for any reason. It is an unconditional investment in every single American.
The Seed Money Act is paired with a repayment scheme that simply recoups that investment as individuals work and earn money. For those like me who make well above the poverty line, I’d receive the Seed Money, and immediately pay it back through the tax. So, instead of costing ~$2.3 trillion to implement, the Seed Money Act only costs taxpayers $200 billion to completely eradicate poverty in the United States.
Childhood poverty alone costs U.S. taxpayers over $1 trillion a year. Simple math tells us that a $200 billion investment which saves $1Trn a year is a net savings of $800 billion a year. That’s $8 trillion in savings to taxpayers each decade! And that’s just looking at childhood poverty.
Now it’s time for the hard part. When Jesus tried to get folks to care about the poor, let’s just say not everyone was onboard. A lot of that resentment of the poor exists today. I went on a tour visiting the poorest parts of America to share my proposal, and learn more about the American struggle. I repeatedly heard, “Poor people deserve to be poor.” and “They should pull themselves up by their bootstraps!”
The number one predictor of poverty is the zip code that you were born into. The same way that wealth begets wealth, poverty begets poverty. As the old adage goes, it takes money to make money.
The vast majority of the poor in America are the working poor, cobbling together several minimum-wage part time jobs just to scrape by. Pulling on their bootstraps isn’t working. A little seed money would help.
Another common concern was, “Well someone has to be on the bottom, right?” Often paired with, “I don’t want someone who doesn’t work as hard as me to get a handout.”
Yes, in a capitalist society with free markets, there will always be income disparities. The Seed Money Act will not reduce the number of billionaires, or change the fact that the vast majority of wealth in the USA, and the world, sits in the hands of an unbelievably small number of families. The top 1% of earners now hold more wealth than the entire middle class in America. This will, for better or worse, not change.
Instead, the bottom won’t be so terrible. And perhaps more importantly to most Americans, the bottom won’t cost us so much damn money.
Right now, we spend trillions of dollars to keep poor people poor. Rather than giving them a little seed money to take care of their basic needs, we spend the money on food stamps, prisons, homeless shelter, street cleaning, public housing, emergency room visits, and many other wasteful programs that absolutely do not solve the poverty problem.
Unlike Jesus, I am not asking people to help the poor solely because it is the moral, humane thing to do. I want you to be selfish, too. Provide every American with a little seed money so that we can drastically lower taxes, reduce government bureaucracy, and force individuals to take responsibility for their own lives, rather than wasting their time gaming government programs. In doing so, we give everyone a chance to breathe, think, and eventually participate in our economic system.
It’s called capitalism for a reason. You need capital to win. I am not suggesting that we make the game completely fair. That would require all of us starting with equal capital. Instead, let’s just make sure that the bottom doesn’t look like Skid Row. Give every American household a little capital, and let the competition start from there.
Elon Musk has a net worth of well over $200 billion. When he briefly became the richest man on the planet, he tweeted “How strange. Well, back to work.” If Elon still goes to work with over $200 billion, it’s absurd to believe the rest of us will quit our jobs because we have $1,100 a month, which won’t even get you a studio apartment in most major cities.
Besides, intentionally keeping people hungry and homeless so that they are forced to work is slavery. And we all agree that slavery is bad, right?
Yes you can. It happens all of the time. It’s called inheritance, tax credits, subsidies, foreign aid, or debt. We give people money all of the time without having them work for it, and we call it investing in our economy. It’s time we invest a little seed money in everyday Americans.
My Jesus year came to an end this past December, and poverty still exists. If we take action soon, it will not. We have the roadmap, and we will eradicate absolute poverty this decade. Text “Volunteer” to +1–310–421–0857 and get involved!
Darryl Finkton Jr.