August 06, 2013 / BE THE DUMB ONE IN THE ROOM
August 06, 2013
n our July 22nd article, Do You Give A Buck?, we asked a question as fundamental to the nature of the United States as it is applicable to its history: Could the American people band together to overcome a seemingly insurmountable problem?
The question alludes to our history because, while less than 240-years old, as a nation we have met and overcome some seriously profound issues. The question recalls our nature because, in that same short time, we have achieved some world-altering accomplishments. And while on a global stage, no challenge was met either completely alone or without cost, it can be said that, as a people, we have proven time and time again that no problem is ever truly insurmountable.
The issue outlined at the beginning of the previous article is our rapidly increasing national debt—clocked at $15 trillion plus at the time of writing. The article’s proposed solution to this “insurmountable” problem: the American people. Specifically, that as Americans, we have the power to come together to make a healthy dent in the debt crisis, as well as send a message to a gridlocked government, by each of us agreeing to donate just one dollar out of each paycheck into a “Dollar Saver Club” that can be leveraged against the deficit.
It’s an interesting idea. But is an interesting idea enough to give us a kick-start?
If our history is any indication, the answer is “yes,” and we can begin by utilizing the one thing that has always benefited American ingenuity: an open forum for debate and ideas. But before we begin the debate, let’s first set the scene.
Using the 80 million bracelets sold by the popular LiveStrong campaign against cancer as a benchmark for numbers, we can estimate 9 million participants per year to “give a buck” and invest in the Dollar Saver Club. With an adult U.S. working population of 156 million, 9 million is approximately 6%—a very successful participation rate for our program.
Six percent of 156 million workers gives us 9,360,000 payrolls to work with.
9,360,000 payrolls, at $1 per paycheck, at 24 paychecks, give us $224,640,000 per year.
$224,640,000 leveraged against a national debt of $15 trillion would have the debt paid off in just over… 67 years!
67-years? That’s almost a lifetime! With numbers like that, is it really worth it to “give a buck?” It is! As it’s been with every challenge America has overcome, the benefits of making a difference have far outweighed the end-results. Consider landing on the moon, ending slavery, overcoming the Great Depression, passing civil rights, fostering the computer age, and more. In addition to every achievement we’ve had, there has also been a sense of hope, charity, and civil participation and pride that has elevated us as individuals and the human condition itself.
With that in mind, let’s begin the debate and generate some ideas that can make the Dollar Saver Club campaign a reality and allow every able American to “give a buck.”
Here are just a few questions to get us started…
Unlike something such as cancer, the national debt is not a single-focus villain. There is a pronounced national division on the debt’s nature and its cause. How can we keep the focus on solving the problem and not on fixing the blame?
Although a voluntary payroll deduction has the benefit of being an easily sustained year-to-year program, it can quickly become an out-of-site-out-of-mind issue. How can we keep the Dollar Saver Club top-of-mind and prevent it from devolving into as “just another tax?”
Are there any functional or emotional benefits to rolling out the campaign regionally (state or county) rather than nationally, or does doing so defeat the purpose?
What government and corporate buy-ins, both conceptually and legally, would be necessary to start such a program?
While private monetary donations to the federal (and most local) government(s) are accepted, the allocation of those monies is still under the jurisdiction of the lawmakers. Is it possible to change this so that the monies are used as they were intended?
Would allocating the monies generated by the campaign to complete specific infrastructure projects, rather than just putting funds into the overall debt, present a more “winning” and promotable story to the program’s participants?
In addition to citizen participation, would corporate fund matching enhance or dilute the program’s sense of grass roots cooperation and, if so, would the benefit outweigh the cost?
In order to create a campaign like this, could the nation’s advertising and marketing communities volunteer their efforts to give the Dollar Saver Club a fighting start and allow the American people to show how much they “give a buck?”
As we said, an interesting idea can only give us a kick-start if we come together in open forum and debate. Exactly how can we make the Dollar Saver Program a reality? Exactly how can we, as citizens, attack the national debt? Exactly how can we “give a buck?” Any ideas?