My Point Form Utopia: Tiny Glimpses of A Better World To Give You A Breather from the Awfulness of the Real One
We spend so much time engaged in the realities of this world that sometimes, we forget that we can often create new circumstances to replace the old ones. Sometimes, if we have the privilege and the opportunity, not to mention the imagination, we can break from the past and create something new and unique.
As I, like you, find myself mentally and emotionally bogged down by the heaviness of current events in 2018, that part of my brain — the one that looks for the answers to the crossword puzzle and reflexively starts looking for Waldo before I’ve even opened the book — begins to desire solutions. Where none are found, that same part of my brain invents them.
What is the kind of world I want to live in? Worldbuilding takes a long time, and I don’t have that kind of time, so instead, I’ll give you some random snippets of where my brain, my imagnation, has taken me in answering this question.
- A society based on creation and harmony, not a work-based ethic. So much of our culture’s shame and inaction around things like welfare, basic income, holidays, work hours, etc.. are all based around the Protestant work ethic, this notion that your value as a person (and, therefore, society’s obligation to you) should be measured in production for its own sake. My Point Form Utopia replaces it with a better ethic: you’re here to contribute to society, to leave your world upon your death better than how you found it, and to do that in whatever way honours your skills, your creativity, your freedom. Find someone who needs your help and give it to them, as only you can. This is not a law enforceable by the state; instead, like the Protestant work ethic, it’s created and reinforced by people on their own. This feels far more compassionate and a better way to harness human resources.
- Minimum and Maximum Incomes. In my Point Form Utopia, every person gets a Guaranteed Minimum Income tied to the cost of living for their area. Period. No questions asked. No expensive, lumbering bureaucracy of people deciding who deserves money and who doesn’t. You just get the income. Period. Depending on the area, additional resources would exist for housing, and domiciles would be built with groups as well as individuals in mind, so everyone could share costs and chores while keeping their own private spaces. Think of those co-housing communities in Denmark (or, really, any university dorm). In any case, no one goes without money for basic needs. And, on the flipside, every person is free to earn as much money as they want…up to the equivalent of $500 million dollars. Following that, every penny you earn goes back into the system. No exceptions. This allows every individual with great ambitions to have the option, should they choose, to pursue a life of tremendous abundance without indulging in the excesses of today’s wealthy elite. In the event that these wealthy individuals have visions for projects that require more money, they can partner up with other $500 million earners and work as a group, though at that point, their financial transactions would be require by law to be transparent to everyone to root out the possibility of loopholes. Regardless, every penny these individuals earn over and above $500M goes back into the system. (It’s one hell of a garnish, I will grant you. Then again, $500 million is a helluva lot of money).
- Universal health care (this should be a no-brainer, though I’d also hasten to add that this should include dental, mental health treatments, addiction and rehab, and prescription drugs for every citizen).
- Renewable energy sources, including citizen-solar and wind farming that they can add to the grid. This already happens now in many jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada (that I’ve seen, anyway), and wherever citizens end up with a surplus of electricity, the power company buys it from them. Every homeowner or landlord would have the opportunity to do this, and new builds would have solar, wind, and (where possible) geothermal generators built into the designs.
- Public Transit That Actually Works. Bikeable cities (including bike shares), subways and light rail transit, and reliable regional train service that connects all major suburbs to whatever megacities they surround every 15 minutes, 12 hours a day during the week. Citizens would pay per use.
- Government policy defined, as Neil deGrasse Tyson put it, by the weight of the evidence. That’s it. Does this thing that you say you want to do actually do the thing you say you want to do? Nothing gets passed if the answer is anything but a “yes”, as determined by a clear majority of the legislature.
- No more political “convention”. All of the essential functions and duties of each elected official are codified in law. Ethics violations and other major offences should carry automatic impeachment and prison sentences for those who hold office. What’s more, law enforcement should be able to automatically arrest and question elected officials upon reasonable suspicion of said violations without the legislature having to go through an impeachment process. Police officers are empowered to make arrests at suspected crime scenes on the spot when they have evidence of criminal activity: the same principle should apply to elected officials doing the same.
- The abolition of political parties in general. Every legislative representative is an independent, and majority votes carry on an issue-by-issue basis. No more ideological governance. Again, everything is subject to the weight of evidence.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Yes, I am aware: each of these ideas carries its own challenges and problems. There aren’t not plentiful, and not even all that original, but I suspect that kind of conversation is sorely needed right now. As injustices and atrocities mount, as the headlines fill up with one outrage after another, it’s important that we don’t lose the capacity to dream, to look beyond the current outrage to other possibilities.
Jody Aberdeen is an author, creative writing and storytelling consultant, and chronic daydreamer with a wildly overactive imagination. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.