Viva Escritora

Reporting from the bleacher seats …

tl;dr!? If $1 bought 1 inch, literally how much distance you could buy with increasing orders of magnitude?

Note: This information originally appeared in “Can we finally agree that trickle down doesn’t?” I have expanded the original text to include:

  • scientific notation
  • individuals or classes of people as markers of attainment
  • a trillion inches or dollars and the national debt

The section ‘Background’ below contains the definitions, measurements, and conversion factors used to develop the following comparisons.

Let’s go!


Poor quality gratuitous photograph of one dollar and a tape measure. I’ve been instructed that photos increase the appeal of a post. I’m testing that assertion. -Viva

Dollars to Distance

How far does that dollar go if one dollar buys one inch? Shouting distance? Out of sight? Out of the country? Off the planet?

Here is the distance money buys you as represented as a distance at each increasing order of magnitude:

$1 = 1

1 X 100 (“ten raised to the power of zero”)

One dollar is one inch which looks like large print taking up two lines of half-inch blue-lined paper. You sign your name with flourish. Or maybe it looks like a straight pin.

$10 = 10

1 X 101 (“ten raised to the power of one”)

Ten dollars looks like 10” which is almost a foot. Ten inches looks like shoe. A bigger shoe, but a shoe.

$100 = 100

1 X 102 (“ten raised to the power of two”)

One hundred inches is 8.33 ft. A standard ceiling height is 8 feet or about one hundred dollars in height.

$1000 = 1000

1 X 103 (“ten raised to the power of three” or 1K)

One thousand inches is 83.33 feet which is 27.778 yards which if you’re a football team moving the ball from the 20 yard line is just 2.222 yards short of a first down (10 yards minus 7.778 yards).

$10,000 = 10,000

1 X 104 (“ten raised to the power of four” or 10K)

Oh boy! Now we’re into using commas for readability. Ten thousand inches is 833.3 ft which is 277.78 yds which is 2.7778 football fields:

  • Lambeau Field
  • Aloha Stadium
  • And 22.22 yds short of a touchdown at Soldier Field

The poverty line for a household of 1 person in 2019 is $12,490.

$100,000 = 100,000

1 X 105 (“ten raised to the power of five” or 100K)

One hundred thousand inches is 9.26 long side Manhattan city blocks or 1.578 miles.

The average salary for a physical therapist is $73K-$102K/year.

$1,000,000 = 1,000,000

1 X 106 (“ten raised to the power of six,” “one million” or 1M)

One million inches is 15.78 miles which will take 15 minutes to drive at a speed of 63.12 MPH. I don’t have a great visual for ~ 16 miles. I did see this headline – “Most Americans think $1 million will be enough for a ‘comfortable retirement’ …” so maybe a smallish pot of gold?

** Reminder: we are working in units of dollars to INCHES. Inches convert to feet which convert to miles. Carry on. **

$10,000,000 = 10,000,000

1 X 107 (“ten raised to the power of seven,” “ten million” or 10M)

Ten million inches is 157.83 miles which is a trip from Milwaukee to Chicago and 0.716 of the way back. Stop in Racine for dinner, whydoncha?

The adjacent apartments Jeff Bezos purchased in New York cost $80M or $8 X 10,000,000.

$100,000,000 = 100,000,000

1 X 108 (“ten raised to the power of eight,” “one hundred million” or 100M)

One hundred million inches is 1,578.3 miles which is 4 miles short of a complete round trip from Milwaukee to Chicago to Washington DC and back. We are really moving now!

$100M is also the amount of money I heard Mitt Romney had in offshore accounts when he ran for President in 2012. Whatever the actual amount was, I believed such great holdings showed a serious love of money and lack of creativity for a Presidential candidate. I still do.

Jeff Bezos purchased a Los Angeles mansion for $165M.

$1,000,000,000 = 1,000,000,000

1 X 109 (“ten raised to the power of nine,” “one billion” or 1B)

One billion inches is 15,783 miles which gets us international travel TO Hong Kong from Washington DC and 93% of the way back. And a billion dollars? If you have a billion dollars and lack imagination on what to do, here are my suggestions.

Forbes estimates the Green Bay Packers franchise value at $2.63B. Forbes so silly! Everyone knows the Packers are priceless.

$10,000,000,000 = 10,000,000,000

1 X 1010 (“ten raised to the power of ten,” “ten billion” or 10B)

Ten billion inches is 157,830 miles which is 6.338 trips around the earth at the equator.

  • Jeff’s ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos’ net worth is an estimated $42.2B.
  • Michael Bloomberg’s net worth is an estimated $61.8B but his real worth is in his Twitter game.

Net worth source : Forbes.com, accessed February 13, 2020.

$100,000,000,000 = 100,000,000,000

1 X 1011 (“ten raised to the power of eleven,” “one hundred billion” or 100B)

One hundred billion inches is 1,578,300 miles which is out-of-this-world! It is 3 round trips from earth to moon and back with 144,900 miles still left over. Or, <does more math> almost 6 more trips around the earth (9,180,864,000 inches)!

  • Jeff’s Bezos’ net worth is an estimated $130.7B.
  • Jeff Bezos’ recent property acquisitions for $245M set him back 0.18 % of his net worth. Less than 1% of his worth for two residences.
  • Bill Gates’ net worth is an estimated $112.9B.
  • Bill Gates retired in 2014 at a net worth valued at $58B.
  • If we consider that Bill has been retired for 10 years, 7 months, he has earned $174.09/second or the equivalent of 8.7 employees paid $20/hour.each.second .for. 10.yeARS. AND.7.MONTHS. EAT.THE.RICH. (Show your work: [$112,900,000,000-$58,000,000,000]/[10 years * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day * 60 minutes/hour * 60 seconds/minute] = $174.09/second)
  • Don’t get me wrong. Bill Gates and his heart may be in the right place. But his money, his philanthropy does not provide gainful employment for many people. Again, his net worth represents a lack of creativity and a systemic unregulated capitalism fail.

Source for net worths: Forbes.com, accessed February 13, 2020.

$1,000,000,000,000 = 1,000,000,000,000

1 X 1012 (“ten raised to the power of twelve,” “one trillion” or 1T)

One trillion inches is 15,783,000 miles which is out-of-this-world! It is 16.97% of a trip to the sun!

With the US National Debt in the $23 trillion dollar range we could travel in INCHES 3.9 times or almost 2 full round trips to the sun and back.

(Aside: I also explored the National Debt in this post: Scientific Notation.)


Background

For those of you who want or need further documentation, these are the definitions, measurements, and conversion factors I used to develop the above information.

Definition by example: Base 10 Order of Magnitude

In base 10, the most common numeration scheme worldwide, an increase of one order of magnitude is the same as multiplying a quantity by 10. An increase of two orders of magnitude is the equivalent of multiplying by 100, or 102. In general, an increase of n orders of magnitude is the equivalent of multiplying a quantity by 10n.

Margaret Rouse, WhatIs.com, accessed February 13, 2020

Scientific Notation

Scientific notation aids in accurately representing a very large or very small numbers from the reference point of the decimal point.

Scientific notation avoids inaccuracy in typing, reading, or counting the number of zeros to the right or left of the decimal point. By example:

  • 10n is “ten raised to the power of n”. (The notation **n is useful when superscript is not immediately obvious or available.)
  • 1 X 1013 or “ten raised to the power of 13” would be a 1 followed by 13 zeroes left of the decimal point, or 10,000,000,000,000.0
  • 1 X 10-9 or “ten raised to the negative ninth” would be a 1 preceded by 8 zeroes to the right of the decimal point, or 0.000000001

For this discussion, we will only concern ourselves with powers of ten to the left of the decimal point.

Conversion Factors

  • 1 foot = 12 inches
  • 1 yard = 3 feet
  • 5,280 feet = 1 mile

Common Distances

In the event you want to check numbers used for imagery and illustration, these commonly recognized distances will be used for our Order of Magnitude math.

Conversion Factors

From the Googles:

  • 100 yards = 1 football field
  • The yard = 3 feet
  • 5,280 feet = 1 mile

Common Distances

From the Googles:

  • 100 yards = 1 football field
  • The standard block size in Manhattan, NYNY is 264 ft by 900 ft. We’ll use the long side of the block – 900 ft.
  • The distance from Milwaukee, WI to Chicago, IL is 92 mi.
  • The distance from Chicago, IL to Washington DC is 699 mi.
  • The distance from Washington DC to San Francisco, CA is 2,813 miles.
  • The distance from Washington DC to Hong Kong is 8,140 miles.
  • The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901 miles.
  • The average distance from the earth to the moon is 238,900 miles.
  • The average distance from the earth to the sun is 93,000,000 miles.

Thank you for taking this mental exercise with me! I find it helpful to take numbers which can sound so similar — millions and billions and trillions — and break them into relatable dimensions and discover they are really worlds apart or just out-of-this-world.

Any errors you find, I own. Peace.

tl;dr?! Billionaires are a natural outcome of a system built to grow billionaires. Poverty is a natural outcome of a system built to grow billionaires. Eat Tax the rich. Or! How about this? Value labor. Increase wages regardless. I’ll make the case.

Here we go!


January 22, 2020 – A check of the Googles today indicates that there are 607 billionaires in the US. Some billionaires were the product of a lucky sperm and/or affluent egg merger. This group includes the Waltons, the Kochs, Trump. Other billionaires had a scratchier start — Bezos’, Bloomberg, Steyer. Regardless, they are billionaires with lagoons of money at their disposal.

Money like water.

Money is for efficient exchange of goods and services.

And I love me metaphor.

Too little water? Brown. Limited growth. Plants die. Soil blows away in the wind.

Too much water? Flooding. Water logged. Or think of the ocean. Travel at sea is comfortable if you are in a REALLY BIG BOAT! And how many of us can afford a really big boat? I mean really big? All those billionaires be out in their own big boats floating in their own big oceans. Big chunks float.

But water flowing greens things up in a field, creates fresh water lakes to float lots of little boats, is the current in a river, avoids the stagnation of a swamp. The stagnation of the minimum wage.

And so I submit that money freely flowing greens up the environment for all. And trickle-down economics is not working. The collective WE suffers from not enough to go around for the benefit of the few. The billionaires. And let us be clear. Billionaires are people, but at some point as they floated up, they did not pull enough others up along with them. They did not launch lots of little boats. They built their own branded behemoth boats and be floating out all alone on their own big oceans.

They did not pull enough others up? How can you be so ungracious and make that statement Viva? I offer as my evidence: they have more than a billion dollars.

A photo to break up the text. Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota. Spring running water.

Not just B&M.

I believe that one of the problems with the perception that a billion dollars is a worthy goal is that it doesn’t SOUND much different than a million dollars. Swap an ‘m’ for a ‘b’ and both millionaires and billionaires are rich.

Perhaps it is a relic from my youth or it is just the nature of time and inflation, but the end goal of being a multi-millionaire does not seem to be removed from society at large. To start and run a small business can take several million dollars. When Bernard Sanders finally released his tax forms, we were not surprised that he has a net worth over a million dollars — he is in his 70s and we EXPECT that he would be fiscally responsible enough to save for retirement. His was not an obscene amount of money. His ho-humming and posturing were a bigger problem than his million dollars plus. Grow up Bernie. Millions or a few are a worthy goal.

But as a culture, it seems we’re conditioned to hear ‘million’ and ‘billion’ and put the numbers in the same bucket. Rich. Of course millionaires become billionaires! But they are worlds apart and there are gradations on the way. For example, Jeff Bezos has two more zeroes in his net worth than the Don Don has in his. Two orders of magnitude.

Orders of Magnitude illustrated.

Orders of magnitude. Let’s illustrate orders of magnitude into relatable dimensions and do math! We’ll use ye olde English measures of length for this discussion.

Conversion Factors

  • 1 foot = 12 inches
  • 1 yard = 3 feet
  • 5,280 feet = 1 mile

Orders of Magnitude represented as distances.

To illustrate orders of magnitude, I’m going to use familiar distance measure as a stand in for dollars. Assume one dollar buys one inch. Here is what money looks like represented as a distance at each increasing order of magnitude:

  • $1. One dollar is one inch which looks like large print taking up two lines of half-inch blue-lined paper. You sign your name with flourish. Or maybe it looks like a straight pin.
  • $10. Ten dollars looks like 10” which is almost a foot. Ten inches looks like shoe. A bigger shoe, but a shoe.
  • $100. One hundred inches is 8.33 ft. A standard ceiling height is 8 feet. One hundred dollars in height.
  • $1,000. One thousand inches is 83.33 ft. which is 27.778 yds which if you’re a football team moving the ball from the 20 yard line is just 2.222 yards short of a first down.
  • $10,000. Ten thousand inches is 833.3 ft which is 277.78 yds which is 2.7778 football fields — Lambeau, Aloha Stadium, and 22.22 yds short of a touchdown at Soldier Field.
  • $100,000. One hundred thousand inches is 9.26 long side Manhattan city blocks or 1.578 miles.
  • $1,000,000. One million inches is 15.78 miles which will take 15 minutes to drive at a speed of 63.12 MPH. I don’t have a great visual for ~ 16 miles. Oh well.

——- Reminder: we are working in units of dollars to INCHES, not dollars to miles or dollars to donuts. ——-

  • $10,000,000. Ten million inches is 157.83 miles which is a trip from Milwaukee to Chicago and 0.716 of the way back. Stop in Racine for dinner, whydoncha?
  • $100,000,000. One hundred million inches is 1578.3 miles which is 4 miles short of a complete round trip from Milwaukee to Chicago to Washington DC and back. We are really moving now!
  • $1,000,000,000. One billion inches is 15,783 miles which gets us international travel TO Hong Kong from Washington DC and 93% of the way back. And a billion dollars? If you have a billion dollars and lack imagination on what to do, here are my suggestions.
  • $10,000,000,000. Ten billion inches is 157,830 miles which is 6.338 trips around the earth at the equator.
  • $100,000,000,000. One hundred billion inches is 1,578,300 miles which is out-of-this-world! It is 3 round trips from earth to moon and back with 144,900 miles still left over. Or, <does more math> almost 6 more trips around the earth (9,180,864,000 inches)!

I’ll not continue with $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars). It is stratospheric. (See also the Viva post Scientific Notation.)

So, start small. Sign your name with an inch of flourish!

Distances

These defined distances were used for our Order of Magnitude imagery above, included here for completeness. For extra credit, you can do the math too!

From the Googles:

  • 100 yards = 1 football field
  • The standard block size in Manhattan, NYNY is 264 ft by 900 ft. We’ll use the long side of the block – 900 ft.
  • The distance from Milwaukee, WI to Chicago, IL is 92 mi.
  • The distance from Chicago, IL to Washington DC is 699 mi.
  • The distance from Washington DC to San Francisco, CA is 2,813 miles.
  • The distance from Washington DC to Hong Kong is 8,140 miles.
  • The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901 miles.
  • The average distance from the earth to the moon is 238,900 miles.
  • The average distance from the earth to the sun is 93,000,000 miles.

The Dirac Delta Function

As a percentage of the US population, 607 billionaires/330,000,000 non-billionaires = 0.00000184 or 0.000184% or, approximately 0%. Zero.

Billionaires. A lot of economic power vested in a very small handful of citizens.

And here I’ll digress into a little more math. Billionaires are the Dirac Delta of capitalism. The Dirac Delta function is zero except AT zero when it has a value of infinity. But! At zero with a zero width and an infinite height, the area under the curve is one (1)! Or zero times infinity is equal to one!

Aside: the Dirac Delta is a function. You can still trust your calculator. In regular math zero times any number is still zero. The Dirac Delta is a theoretical construct and trust me, it solves so many engineering problems.

But back to my point. Billionaires are basically 0% of the population but because their wealth is infinite, they have a disproportionate value of one. As evidence, I offer Citizens United. I offer Michael Bloomberg who threw his hat in the run for President and has come up in the polls (he was at 10% today) by just applying some money. I offer the Don Don Grifter-in-Chief who conned his way to POTUS using the chimera of he’s a billionaire too.

As we continue to struggle a more perfect union on the obeisance to capitalism at all costs, veneration of titans of industry, worship of the Cheeto of Teflon — money as an ultimate goal, or the ultimate goal, gives disproportionate power and voice to a very small, very wealthy minority.

Taxes? More for the many!

Gonna pick on Jeff Bezos, Amazon predator proprietor. In 2018, the most recent documented tax year, Amazon paid a whopping $0 dollars in Federal taxes on $11,000,000,000 in profits. $11 Billion. If we plot a graph with taxes on the x-axis and profits on the y-axis, Amazon would look like the Dirac Delta function!

Instead of federal taxes, consider state and local sales tax. If Jeff Bezos buys a single pair of really fine $2500 pants every day for a year he will spend $912,500 – almost $1,000,000 – on a pile of pants. If we apply a Seattle sales tax rate of. 10.1%, Jeff will contribute $92,162.50 from pants tax to the Seattle public coffers which is approximately $92,162.50 more than Amazon contributed to the Fed.

On the other hand, if the 566,000 employees of Amazon are paid such that they can afford one pair of $60 khakis a year, they will have spent $33,960,000 on khakis or $33,047,500 more dollars on pants than Jeff Bezos. And! If they paid HALF the Seattle tax rate of 5.05%, they would contribute $1,701,396 to the public coffers. Whoa!

And they’d all have new pants!

If you extend the purchasing power of living wages into housing, food, childcare, transportation — basic necessities plus maybe some wild fun money for a new pair of pants, the quality of life improves for many, not just one lone billionaire. The free exchange, flow, transit of money improves the landscape for all. Individuals make investments into their quality of life. Money doesn’t stop flowing when it hits their wallets.

Billionaires are not constrained by minimum wage requirements. They can pay more. They should pay more. Amazon 2018 profits $11,000,000,000/550,000 employees = $20,000. Surely Amazon can cut a bit of profit and float a few more boats.

Money for money’s sake serves no one. Value labor. Float everyone’s boat. American exceptionalism is hampered by a lack of imagination and the concentration of money in a select few pockets.

Patricia Miller 2014

This sentiment was completely handwritten (!) inside a Christmas card I received via USPS:

Every time a hand reaches out to help others … that is Christmas.

Every time someone puts anger aside and strives for understanding … that is Christmas.

Every time people forget their differences and realize their love for each other … that is Christmas.

May this Christmas bring us closer to the spirit of human understanding.

Closer to the blessing of peace.

Author unknown

Be the Christmas seasoning – help, understanding, and love.

Wishing my dear readers all the best during the holidays whatever traditions you observe, wherever and however you celebrate!

Peace.


A note of interest: I was going to interleave “MERRY CHRISTMAS” all caps with “happy holidays” lowercase but it isn’t pretty and it isn’t cute.

CHRISTMAS + holiday = ChHoRlIiSdTaMyAsS

which looks like a feisty Festivus salty under-your-breath swear to save when you’re in for a long sweaty checkout line. You know. Be the seasoning!

Tl;dr?! The Christmas story. A clean porcelain nativity. News that $1T USD would be spent on the Christmas holiday (2016). I was inspired to write a piece of Ekphrastic poetry. And I finish with a holiday photo inspired by the art of Hilma af Klint.

Enjoy!

Or not.


Nativity

The nativity tableau, the crèche so clean, but the story so, so messy. A stable is not a safe, clean place to bear a child and entertain guests from afar. It smells. It is dirty. It is not well lit.

And birth. Infants present as independent ecosystems that are very, very dependent. Their survival is dependent on older others and in this story, the others are tired and scared. The sacred scared nativity surrounding a makeshift crèche is the result of leaving a country in a big hurry and landing in a place where hoteliers claim there is no room. They don’t know anyone. Do they even speak the language? Mary gave birth, gave life, to the Son of God. She is sore and tired. Comforts she had known are missing. Family is afar. She wants to bathe herself and her infant and eat and snuggle and sleep.

Joseph would like some sleep too. It was hurried long trip. Gifted with this new addition, charged with the care and feeding of an infant, the Son of God the angel said, the hurried flight from Judaea, their situation is bleak. He and Mary have made it this far but they are destitute, on entry the stench in the stable is overpowering, Joseph craves some sleep. He is sure their next move will be clear to him with some sleep.

Cluttered, confused, muddled, smelly. Real life is messy.

In contrast, nativities are mise-enscene static. Animals, audience, lead and character actors are clean, pristine, and motionless. Cast in their roles, there is no breath, no stench, no worry, no life.

[And this would be the spot to compare the situation of Mary and Joseph to immigrants at the US-Mexico border. But today, I’ll not. Here’s a link to what an immigration nativity scene looks like.]

Ekphrastic Poetry

An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene, or more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org

And so there you have it! Inspired by the disconnect between the amount of money spent by Americans during the Christmas holiday season and the poverty and destitution of the original Christmas story, inspired by the disconnect between a porcelain nativity scene and a real-life stable, inspired by the disconnect between acting a part versus living the part, I give you this ekphrastic poetry mash! But isn’t all poetry a mash of sorts really? I digress.

As I haven’t yet mastered the indentation skills necessary for my poetry renditions in WordPress, a photo will have to do. This is my poetic ekphrastic nod to the Gianni Benvenuti nativity scene in porcelain which is really just a stand-in for any sanitized nativity scene.

Enjoy!

Or not.

I haven’t yet discovered an easy way to indent a line and the next line, etc. in WordPress so this is a picture of the poem. – Viva

Photography in the style of Hilma af Klint

Look up! Look around!

I looked up. The tree top and rotunda at the confluence of the Saint Kate Hotel, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, et al. I can see where Hilma af Klint would take inspiration in the architecture, lighting, geometry and theology available to us.

The 2019 photo above was inspired by this painting by Hilma af Klint. The above photograph looks like a black & white photo compared to Hilma af Klint who used all the colors!

October 2018 – Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim Viva would have titled this “My rainbow pencil draws circles around me.”

Wishing you health, warmth, peace, love, and joy and a happy holiday season with all the colors!

Tl;dr?! Apparently it’s all the rage to run for President of the United States if you have a billion dollars (US) — and I’m looking at you, Tom Steyer and you, late-entry, Michael Bloomberg. Don’t you have better things to do with your billions? This is my take of how to spend a billion dollars if I were of a mind had a billion dollars. (Sung to the tune of 🎶 “If I had a Million Dollars by the Barenaked Ladies” 🎶 )


Hey buddy! Can you spare a billion?

In the current field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for POTUS, the accumulated wealth of Tom Steyer ($1.6B) and Michael Bloomberg ($52.4B) give us pause. Evidently they believe that the dollars they’ve hoarded unto themselves are enough evidence that they should run the country. And Mr. Steyer might be only 3% of a Mr. Bloomberg, and Mr. Bloomberg might be 33X a Mr. Steyer, but me? I believe the excessive number of zeroes (9) that follow the significant digits of their net worth are a testament to a their lack of imagination and their latent-, or maybe even overt-selfishness. Eh, today I’ll cut them slack. They’re latently selfish.

Well, we believe there are plenty of opportunities for them to be overtly selfless. The minimum wage is just that. A minimum. If one can pay people more, why not? If one has the means to create companies with benefits and well-paying jobs, why not?

As I’ve written before, out at wealth’s end there are ways to apply wealth to pursuits other than vanity projects like a 500′ clock in the Texas mountains, or a rocket program whose intent seems to pine for the abandonment of human life here on earth, or running a campaign to be President of the United States.

A billion dollars in $100 bills weighs about 10 tons. Think of it! Literally 10 tons! That’s enough to kill someone or even a small crowd. So as not to intentionally harm anyone, here is a list of other projects one could fund with a billion dollars.

Let’s go!


Grocery Stores in Urban Food Deserts

There are well-populated urban communities which do not have access to affordable, healthy food options in the form of a local grocery story.

I’d install as many urban food desert grocery stores as I could afford! A quick check on the Googles and I’d allocate $1 Million per Grocery Store Start-up. So maybe start with 600 grocery stores? Reserve the remainder for operating and unexpected costs? Just think of the positive impact I could have on 600 or so communities — local access to affordable, healthy food options for low-income folks, non-minimum wage employment with benefits (yeah, I’d be all in on that), add vitality to communities suffering from inadequate nutrition choices.


Guaranteed Minimum Income in an Economically Depressed Area

The United States has many regions whose economic balloon has never been inflated or whose balloon is woefully under-inflated now. Infuse some air in that balloon and give a guaranteed income to anyone living in the zip code. This is essentially expanding on the Universal Basic Income idea Andrew Yang has proposed but, I mean, I have a billion dollars, right?

Go big or go home.

Instead of Yang’s 10 random families, I’d target every residence in a geographic area and see what this way comes. A socioeconomic experiment writ large, this would need careful consideration and definition because as a quick shot there are so many built-in undesirable consequences. For example, we would introduce income disparity with our neighbors across the street whose residence is in a different zip code. Hmm … well, it’s worth considering.


It occurs to me while exploring this option, that a guaranteed minimum income was what the very large middle class had back in the 1950’s – 1970’s. More than 50% of the population had a “middle class” income and lifestyle. It felt secure. When the Teflon Cheeto and MAGAs want to “Make America Great Again,” this is what they long for, this is what they remember as “great.” If one was born middle class, one could reliably stay middle class.

Evidently, the MAGA memory celebrates that the racism, homophobia, misogyny, religious piety, hate, and on and on, of that era is stuck to the bottom of their shoes like toilet paper and we remain gobsmacked that they are proud of this stench of a bygone eras. Don’t they realize there is no “again” in MAGA? No they don’t. We’ll all have to clean up the s*it and toilet paper on the floor but I digress and wax deep in the mixed metaphor and gah! it stinks in here.


For more reading of life in an economically disadvantaged zip code: “A Closer Look at Milwaukee Zip Code 53206,” (2015).


Public Library Expansion

Build some libraries in urban deserts. Libraries today are so much more than books. They are community centers — books, media, internet access, reading spaces, meeting spaces, reference and all the other stuff I don’t know.

Thinking of Andrew Carnegie here.


Assistance for SNAP Beneficiaries

Approximately 700,000 families SNAP benefits are being cut. Provide monthly assistance to the “able-bodied” who still need to eat. Feed people, why not?

Note, “able-bodied.” I have a problem with this. When I see the bill checking out at the grocery store, I wonder how bad my diet would be if I had to rely on a minimum wage job to feed myself. I see “able-bodied” people working minimum or near-minimum wage jobs because corporations and employers devalue labor. Do these employees have to make a choice between food? or shelter? In a country with this much wealth — there are hundreds of multi-billionaires — do we really want a society where people are forced to make a choice between two basic needs? We’ve read the reports of Amazon employees who rely on food stamps.

Help people feed themselves.


Mobile Healthcare

I read of areas of the country where there is a dearth medical facilities — clinics, hospitals, doctors, nurses. Well, take that show on the road!

Healthcare is self-care and I believe that medical care is often given over to industry-type thinking rather than actual health and preventative care. Start a business — just think of the people you’ll employ, the places they’ll go, the people they’ll serve!

Healthcare. Avoid making “patients.”


Although the graphic of an ambulance is misleading as to the actual article content, this is an excellent read on mobile health clinics: “How Do Mobile Health Clinics Impact Patient Access to Care?” by Sara Heath, November 07, 2018.


Low-income Housing Insecurity

I visited the exhibit based on Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted in September. The amount of time and percentage of income low-income folks spend scrabbling for inadequate, sub-standard housing is such an unbelievable tax on their humanity. As I can’t imagine how I’d feed and house myself on a minimum wage income — it is an “or”, food or shelter, one of them, not both — I can’t imagine the stress induced by constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the eviction hell-hound.

At the end of the Evicted Exhibit, there were models of alternative low-income housing put together by architecture students. Well! If I had a billion dollars, I’d explore a project to innovate on low-income housing and community building.


Fund Half a Presidential Candidate Run

I did a back-of-the-envelope analysis of the amount of money spent en toto by the Clinton and tRump campaigns in the 2016 election. It worked out to ~$2.4 Billion USD on a turnout of 129 million voters or ~$18.69/voter.

This made me ill.

Holding the envelope to my head this year, I predict that to fund a blue wave in the 2020 election cycle, the DNC should get at least $2 Billion.

And the envelope says:

100,000,000 (D) voters * $20/ (D) vote = Yep! $2Billion

This should make you ill too. And I’m not just sayin’. Citizens United needs to go. We citizens and voters are tired of this eternal election cycle churn.

So with a $1 Billion, I could fund half of a better-politician-than-me’s campaign!

Or shine more light money on someone else’s spotlight. Kamala Harris, my first choice for presidential candidate dropped out of the race. Lack of funds to stay in this circus? Probably. Again, makes me ill. There has to be a better way to filter POTUS candidates but that’s another post.


Contribute to the public school system

Local property taxes (usually) determine the quality of education, the resources available to the local schools. As someone who holds her public education near-and-dear to her heart, I’d like public schools to be funded more equitably. The quality of your education should not depend on the housing your parents can afford.

I could contribute $2M to 500 schools “🎶… if I had a billion dollars …🎶”


Pick an Epidemic

Pick an epidemic. Any epidemic.

Well, don’t pick malaria. Bill Gates has malaria covered. He’s pledged billions.

Pick a different epidemic to focus your billion on.


Entrance fees — museums, zoos, botanicals, etc.

Pay it ahead! Instead of dropping your money in huge philanthropic gestures on the back-end of museum, et al, support, go for the front-end! Pay or subsidize entrance fees for anyone and everyone.

Let’s do some math:

If we assume an entrance fee of $25/person (that’s what I paid at the Museum of Modern Art in New York), then

$1,000,000,000/$25 person = 40 million attendees

The money would run out long before a year was out, but think of the legacy! Change it up. Front-end philanthropy. Let people in, why not!?


Transportation

Kansas City announced fare-free public transit and although it doesn’t inspire me to visit Kansas City immediately, it does speak to their recognition that availability of transit impacts quality-of-life. For the better! And we approve.

The estimated cost to Kansas City for fare-free public transit is $8M. So using math and assuming $10M/year, we could provide 100 cities with free public transit for a year!

Whoa! Maybe we will visit Kansas City. I look forward to the reports on how this changes their system — ridership, use, expansion — the hidden benefits, the unknown consequences.


If you have a billion dollars …

When implemented many of these are economic incubator/test ideas. Best if you can influence and aid the creation of self-sustaining communities. The point is not to make MORE money for yourself. The point is to make a difference in the quality-of-life for OTHER people. Share the wealth.

And yes, the risks are great. Or maybe not. If you already have $1B, you’re well-insulated. You could lose a zero or two off that net worth, but! But! Not many people can say they just spent $1B with the singular goal of improving the lives of others. Join Bill Gates. Not one in a million, but one who could spare a billion! Think about it.

Please, don’t make us eat the rich. We’re not really interested. We’d rather you walk back from wealth’s end and participate with us in this great society.

And just think what you could do with a couple billion!


And for the rest of us? Be as generous to others with your time, resources, money, or even just attitude, as you are able.

Here’s an ear worm for-you-from-me waiting to happen:

Enjoy! Or not.

Peace.