I always marvel at how little it takes to create a good paying job for a single person, if the capital is there. For example, for a person making $48,000 a year, it would take 480,000 people or 20% of the city of Toronto to give 10c, just once, to this person. If this individual were to take this money and then use it to fund their work, they could create all sorts of benefits for society, and no one would even feel the pinch from it. In fact, it costs less than a tenth of the price of a bottle of pop or a coffee. I’m pretty sure everyone could spare that. Heck, I’ve seen people leave a dime on the ground because it wasn’t worth picking up in their mind.
I must admit for some jobs where only a single non-reproducible object is created, this may seem a bit silly. (Unless of course, the object is a piece of public art or the like). However, for jobs like software development where the good could be open sourced and reproduced at will to everyone or jobs engineering tools like the RepRap (3d printer) which other corporations can take and use to build entire new industries of commercial products, this suddenly seems like a great idea. And if you need more people just imagine the next pretty easy to envision premise: 20% of the population of Toronto gave 10c every day, you’d have enough money to build a large organization devoted to developing software for the benefit of everyone and afford to live a comfortable happy life.
Now, I don’t say you should give the money to a person who hasn’t proved that they are willing to develop and work and I definitely think you shouldn’t force people who don’t want to commit to something to commit. However, let’s just say, for sake of argument, you could get this capital flow, say a 10c investment from this group each day for a year. This would be laughably nothing to each person individually. So what, in theory, could come of something this simple?
This organization could work on developing educational software and could build systems for educating the next generation. It could work on new tools for teachers so they can better target the strategies for their children’s education. It could work on improving wikipedia, or even afford to pay teachers (or evaluation organizations) to go and check open sources of information like wikipedia and provide definitive and free textbooks. It could develop training resources for large businesses so they can more efficiently run their organizations and provide more ROI (and thus even more jobs.)
This organization could take existing open databases of the government and develop efficient websites for public transit to ease travel, or develop open source displays that could be cheaply manufactured for transit stops. They could develop trans-partisan platforms like TweetCommons, Open Parliament, PollingReport or How’d They Vote, opening the government in ways it had never been before – Making it easier for everyone to know who they are voting for and what the politicians really stand for.
This organization could develop existing hardware projects further and bring home some of the most amazing technologies of our age. For example, they could work on the reprap project and make 3d printing affordable and easily spread, I know OCAD students would all love to have a 3d printer in their house. They could develop pick and place robots that help with making complex circuit boards. They could develop cheap and effective home based manufacturing and prototyping tools that at first would be used by makers, but over time could easily change how we live and play.
This idea, implemented correctly, would take many open source projects to the next level by bringing good engineers, designers and artists into the open source world creating for everyone.
And all of this from less than a quarter of Toronto donating 10c a day for a year, a little more than 1% of all Canadians, and less than .5% of Americans.
This realization always amazes me. The ROI on that 10c would be incredible.