Do you ever want to flip off the world? Yeah. There are days like that. But, flipping some old ideas around is entering the conversation. Within the scope of history, we are a young species and a much younger civilization. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find out that we’ve got some good ideas, but we have to flip them to make them work right. Some of them will affect personal financing. Some will just affect the world around us, which means they’re worth considering.
This isn’t just an idea. People are doing this. Now that kids can look up anything online, some classes are flipping the schedule and the roles. The old model was: have a teacher give a lecture, then send the kids home with homework, which they hand in eventually, then the teacher grades them even while the next set of lectures and homework are sweeping by. Instead, the teacher tells the kids what to look up and learn about at home, the homework becomes classwork where they can get group support or maybe individual attention, then the work is submitted, graded, and returned online. The classroom becomes much more interactive. The students get a chance to explore their curiosities at home. Communications with the teacher can be handled privately online. There are always issues: boredom at school replaced with distractions at home, digital divide makes it easier on kids who have better equipment, and cheating is always a possibility. It also changes the role of the teacher who becomes more of a facilitator than a lecturer, a role that can be more gratifying for some. The idea is new, but old enough that data should be available so the debate isn’t just ideology and philosophy.
I’ve heard about this idea, but don’t know how to even look it up, but – rather than pay a lot when we’re sick, pay when we’re healthy. The idea is basically to pay for healthcare just like we pay for insurance; but, the money goes to personal preventative care, not to a financial institution. Prevention is cheaper than treatment, and results in a higher quality of life. Currently, there’s a lot of money to be made from people who are sick; but not a lot of money to be made from keeping people healthy. If doctors and care facilities were paid to keep people healthy, and weren’t paid when they were sick, then there’d be much more incentive to figure out how to help people do the simple things: eat right, exercise, relax, socialize. I pay a few hundreds of dollars every month that provides me no benefit. Because of it, I can only afford to go to the doctor if I am healthy because I can’t afford any treatments they may prescribe, even with insurance. If, however, I was tasked with spending a few hundred dollars a month on preventative care I could eat better, join a gym (or dojo), worry less about my health, and have healthier relations with my community. Supposedly some culture did this. I wonder how well it worked.
The current culture of corporations is dominated by one simple rule: one share equals one vote. The good news is that almost anyone can buy into corporate America. The bad news is that if some other shareholder has more than half the shares, they have more than half the votes, and effectively have all of the power. It is uncommon (though Steve Jobs ran Pixar that way), but the same effect occurs when a small group of investors holds the same advantage. A majority of the shareholders may oppose a resolution, but it is the majority of the shares that wins the votes. The flip is another simple rule: one shareholder equals one vote. That’s closer to the way we run the country, ideally. Those with the most shares still make most of the money, but decisions are based on benefiting the most people, not the most power. Wealth and income inequality are moderated because compensation and finance decisions are judged by all, not just a few. This radical concept actually exists. It is called a T-Corp, and is quite uncommon. Maybe we don’t need to get rid of corporations, stock, or stockholders; but merely need to change an S or a C to a T. (Of course it is more complicated than that, but at least there’s something to work from.)
If term limits make so much sense for the Presidency of the United States, then why not apply them elsewhere? The Supreme Court has positions for life, which made more sense when the society changed slowly but now means judges are ruling on technologies they can’t understand. Congress doesn’t have positions for life, but the entrenched incumbency proves they have it effectively. The same logic applies. Move the people and move the debate. One way to keep power from accumulating is to enforce its mobility. The bureaucracy may persist, but even there, maybe shifting roles every decade or so would be a healthy change and cross-fertilization of ideas.
Retirement planning and personal finance in general are based on a series of assumptions about the way the world works. The world of 2015 is not the world of 2005 and not the world of 1995. The world of 2025 is very likely to be very different. We’re facing crises in many fields, as we always have, but now the issues are global. I suspect that, rather than embark on revolutionary concepts, we’ll probably at least try to flip some of the existing concepts. Examples are out there. We need solutions here. In any case, things are changing and won’t stop doing so. In that case, I keep in mind that my assumptions about my dreams, my investing, and the way I live will also have to change. Realizing that early is educational, healthy, profitable, and an acceptance of an inevitable shift. That’s worth considering.