We’ve been talking about poverty and how to fix it. Why, I asked, couldn’t we take all the funds currently used to cope with poverty and its consequences, and use that money to give jobs to everyone living in impoverished neighborhoods?

There are many things that need fixing in those towns. There is a need for childcare and nutritious meals and adult education about life skills and administrative tasks. Everyone could be given valuable work and paid a decent wage for it.

That would be communism, #2 son said. He thinks — and I assume that he is right, since he has a PhD in economics — that this would be the kiss of death for my idea.

But if it were done in one city, using the assets already available, such as the County Extension office and abandoned buildings, it would probably work. Any homeless or unemployed person who wouldn’t cooperate would have to leave the town. That would cause pressure for the other towns.

As the cooperative city improved over a decade or two and crime fell, surrounding towns would take on similar initiatives. 

#2 son says it would work on a small scale, but as it grew reality would set in and it would quit working.#2 daughter said it would make life better in the future, but not fast enough to motivate people to make the necessary changes in their lives.

It’s pretty clear that what we’re doing right now isn’t working.