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Utopia Revisited: Economics Discussion Forum

It's been a while since we've had a discussion forum. Here is your chance. The goal for this one is to offer one drastic change in our economic system that you think would address one or several pressing problems. We are following Thomas More's example in his classic Utopia. "Utopia" means "no place," so it's evident that More was recommending imagination, not immediate practical reform. As a consequence, his thoughts about a good society are still fresh and relevant 500 years later, in a way that legislative bills or specific reforms wouldn't be. That kind of imagination is what I'm looking for here.

There are a few rules:

1. Do NOT offer an explanation for how to implement your change. Just state it. Spending too much time trying to shoehorn your idea into our present dysfunctional systems will only discourage creative thinking. At some point, of course, we should move from the philosophical to the practical, but this is not that point.

2. Do explain what problem your solution would address and what impact you think it would have.

3. Try to keep your comments to one or two paragraphs!

4. You may not say "That wouldn't work" about your own or other's posts.

I'll start with my own:

I'd like to see every job get paid the exact same amount. It would be a generous living wage, but it would mean that lawyers and nannies, chief executive officers and trash collectors would all get the same pay. People who want to be artists or teachers could now afford to, and no one would become a doctor or lawyer who didn't want to. It would force society to consider what jobs are essential to our survival and to ask itself why farmers make less than advertising executives. This reform would also imply that training for all jobs would be affordable or free, since one current justification for paying doctors more, for example, is that they had to spend more on education. (Somehow no one makes that same argument for professors of philosophy.) One objection to this is that without financial incentives, some jobs wouldn't be done at all, but actually the most unattractive jobs currently get paid the least and are still filled. Nonetheless, there might have to be occasional non-monetary incentives to insure all jobs get done.

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