Five public policy ideas that should get more attention
There are a lot of good ideas floating around out there that different levels of government could adopt if they spent less time on partisan bickering, riling up their base, or working on bad ideas like a wall across the border of Mexico (and sometimes all of the above!). Some of them would make a lot of sense and some might be controversial, but change is a four letter word so none are likely to see the light of day.
- Eliminate Daylight Savings Time — I can’t think of anyone who wakes up on the day that we move our clocks back or forward an hour and think, “garsh, what a great idea this is!”.
It doesn’t save energy, it doesn’t make driving safer, and people show up later because they forget to change their clocks. Airlines and passengers hate it because it messes with their schedules when everything has to go perfect in order for people to be happy. Cows even hate it because they have to wait an extra hour to be milked.
- Eliminate the penny and the $100 bill — The penny costs more to make than it is worth, they aren’t accepted by toll booths, vending machines, or parking meters, and every transaction that uses a penny wastes more time than they penny is worth. Getting rid of the $100 bill would significantly reduce crime in the country where money is laundered. $100 bills are portable, undetectable by banks, and people can carry a lot of them discretely. Cash based businesses would also have a harder time hiding money from the IRS as well so that would increase tax revenue.
- Later high school start times — okay, this one would be extremely unpopular to parents, people running extracurricular activities after school, school boards would never go for it, but the science is clear. Teenagers need more sleep than kids or adults do and their biological clocks do change to the point where they can’t fall asleep at 10am or wake up at 6am without a major struggle. Seattle pushed their clocks forward an hour and there were reduced rates of physical or mental health problems, better grades, reduced tardiness or absences, and the teachers reported better discourse and critical thought.
- Repeal the Jones Act — the Jones Act of 1920 prevents foreign owned, operated, or constructed vessels from transporting goods in American waters. It was meant to protect American jobs at shipbuilding yards, but water transportation workers make up 0.1% of the American workforce and it’s still shrinking. Meanwhile, the law costs Americans an extra $656 million per year, raises the price of goods to islands like Hawaii and Puerto Rico by at least 20%, and makes it harder for ships to bring goods to areas harmed by hurricanes.
- Consolidate welfare programs for the poor — The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program gives low income individuals extra money to afford groceries, Section 8 gives them extra money to afford rent, LIHEAP gives them extra money to afford heating their homes, and the Earned Income Tax Credit just gives low income parents money for having jobs. All require a different form to be filled out and sent to the government with equal work requirements, income verification, and other forms of red tape to regulate the poor. While there are four more of these “give people money” programs, my point is that it would be a lot easier to have one “give people cash” program that isn’t targeted, but instead unconditional. Consolidating the programs and keeping the red tape would still leave accountability in the system, but free up more time for people to look for a job and get their lives back on track.