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Poverty in the US is a continuing problem. In 2013 45.3 million Americans were living in poverty, 14.5% of the total population.

It turns out that the scope of the problem is roughly $100 billion per year. The calculations follow below. This amount would end poverty in the US. This could be achieved. Some sort of social program would need to be devised to win the support of US taxpayers for this initiative. A really well-designed program might include some way for those in poverty to generate revenues so the program pays for its own way.

Let's use the above numbers as baseline. For 2015, the poverty line is $15,730 for a household of 2 and $19,790 for a household of 3. The average US household is 2.54 persons. If you interpolate, then an "average poverty line" could be taken as $15,730 plus 54% of $4,060 (the difference between the two household sizes) or $17,922.

In the mid-2000s the gap was about 33%. So the average unmet need to life a household above the poverty line would be 33% of the $17,922 or $5,914.

To calculate the number of households in poverty, divide 45.3 million by 2.54 members per household to get 17.83 million households.

So the unmet need to lift every American household out of poverty would be $6,000 times 18 million households or $108 billion per year.

By comparison, in 2014 the Social Security Administration paid $869 billion to 59 million Americans. And again, the proposed 2015 budget for the Pentagon is $495 billion.

It appears that the US could easily afford to end poverty.

Perhaps DailyKos readers could together devise a means to come up with $100 billion that would be consonant with both Democratic party and Republican party principles and priorities.

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A vertically-integrated community can meld community businesses, infrastructure, education, care, and other resources to provide decent wages and benefits. Can this serve as antidote to Walmart-itis?

Walmart sales for 2014 are projected at $476 billion. Forbes 20-Feb-2014

The US gross domestic product (GDP) for 2014 is projected at $17.3 trillion while US retail sales for 2013 totaled $4.5 trillion. This means Walmart accounted for 10.6% of all US retail sales and 2.6% of the total US GDP. This is frightening.

The ‘Walmart formula’ might be best summarized as “buy low cost goods from China and other low-wage nations and sell them at prices marginally lower than the price of domestic goods. Once the market is captured and competition destroyed, then boost margins.” This formula destroys US manufacturing and sends US jobs overseas. Other US chains, such as Home Depot, employ essentially the same formula.

These companies appear to have neutralized any effective governmental ability to rein in their practices. These juggernauts appear to be in the final stages of assuming control of US markets. And they can use their capital and connections to take over one further market segment after another. The one that personally irks me most is the Walmarting of charitable giving—where Walmart asks customers to donate to charity, and many of them do, and then Walmart is in the position of dictating even where charitable dollars flow.

Are we helpless? No. The federal government appears to be under their thumbs. State governments are being captured systematically with the ALEC formula. However, communities and cities could be more resistant.

The vertical integration of community can be the antidote to Walmartitis. Here’s the vision. A community has businesses, government, manufacturing, infrastructure, and  education. It could be possible to vertically integrate the community so that local wages and benefits are maintained, local businesses encouraged, local manufacturing protected. Vertical integration means these separate forces in the community establish deeper cooperation. Up to now, these are each considered in isolation and each permitted to go about their business as they pleased.

An example. I was lead to this proposal by a business model I recently created. It was a 70-parameter model that looked at the integration of: a) a college, b) manufacturing, c) residential and commercial construction, d) farming, e) nursing care, f) veteran’s programs. The model was for the growth phase of a community from empty land across a 7-year period of expansion to a population of 15,000. I was stunned to find that students at the college could receive very good wages ($30k to $40k--single and married) and could build their own homes and could buy them at reasonable cost. By the end of the 7 years, in this model, the total cumulative value of all goods and services in the community grew from $10 million (startup investment) to over $1 billion. The community itself ended up with $200 million of assets at the end of 7 years, apart from the privately owned assets.

In this plan, the community grew its own food. It manufactured much of the construction materials used in the homes (doors, sinks, windows, roofing, etc.). A percentage of students were training in construction management and actually built the homes and commercial buildings of the new city, and all its infrastructure. Another percentage were training in nursing and would be employed in nursing as they worked through a four-year degree.

This model does work. Alaska distributes some of its resource extraction revenues to residents. The Amana Colonies, here in Iowa, were once organized this way.

Every economic system has advantages and disadvantages. This model is optimized for community self-sufficiency. Because of the remarkable level of wages and benefits available, I think such a community would be especially appealing for young families where one parent or both would like to complete college and learn trades.

What does get lost in this model, unfortunately, is large individual accumulations of wealth—the construction company that builds 4,000 homes would ordinarily make tens of millions of dollars. Instead the community ends up with this money. And thus the community needs to help businesses with capitalization.

At present there is a draft 70-page business plan and the draft financial model is built in Microsoft Excel. If there were interest, send me a message. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all model. However, I’d be interested to learn about others initiatives. And perhaps these resources might be useful for related projects. Perhaps a portfolio of solutions could be assembled, and then local organizers could pick and choose, and come up with something that works for their community.

The model demonstrates that there is at least one way to organize for everyone in a community to enjoy a reasonable reward for their work. There are certainly other ways as well. The corporatization of America is not a given. But, the current trajectory of the US economy must be altered if we do not want to simply hand government over to corporations.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 06:00 PM PDT

Kos scoops Google News--Congrats!

by greenkrete

Congrats DailyKos! Once again, you've scooped all the major internet outlets!

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gf120581's hilarious diary recounted how 'Defender of the 10 Commandments' Georgia Senator Lynn Westmoreland (R) was stumped when Colbert asked what they were. Stumped!

"What are all of them? You want me to name them all?"
It got the brain cells churning. Is there an easy way to remember all of them? Nothing decent comes up on google. In the military we used clever phrases to remember things like the color code for labeling resistors in electronic circuits. (This was quite a while ago!) So I offer one of those, and also a reasonably decent limerick--two REALLY SIMPLE memory aids. Astonish your parents!

To send or not to send. That is the question.

14%2 votes
7%1 votes
78%11 votes

| 14 votes | Vote | Results

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Virginia Governor McDonnell's claims that GOP Governors are driving the improving economy are wrong. Check it yourself! States with Democratic Governors for the week ending January 28th had 15% lower new claims per capita than states with Republican Governors. Isn't science wonderful! Go below the fold and get the details.

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Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 06:00 AM PDT

Building Better Trucks

by greenkrete

Today trucks carry 70% of US commercial freight. [1]  The future of trucks and trucking matters to all of us. [4] Many existing technologies could benefit both the US trucking industry and the public and could be applied without delay. The relatively rapid turn-over of equipment in the industry—the current average age of US trucks is 6.7 years—means technologies could quickly produce an impact . Here is a list of existing technologies that could reduce total US greenhouse gas emissions by 5%, improve truck driving experience, and improve truck security.

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The Opportunity  A well-crafted rescue program could save US homeowners $2 trillion dollars over a decade. This proposed program averts a growing housing crisis, creates 300,000 good jobs that last a decade, generates an additional $200 billion in property taxes, and more. Best of all, it costs government nothing.  

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A proven and humane technology could end violence in the Afghanistan conflict within a few months.

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