Saturday, December 30, 2017

Abolish Red Tape and Disenfranchisement

For some time, I've been greatly worried about the unemployed homeless.  It seems that they have the least ability to participate in society.  Sure, for those down on their luck, there are government programs (e.g. welfare) and offers by private companies (e.g. "your job is your credit"), but for some people, the extent of many current government and private offers just isn't enough.  There are still some people who can't benefit from such offers.

Such offers are aimed those in the middle and lower classes - who are merely down on their luck - but aren't completely helpless.  Unfortunately, in society, there isn't often enough help for those who have absolutely nothing, and that needs to change.

Over the last few months in particular, I've grown concerned over the seemingly increasing level of identity and financial verification.  Credit scores and checks have seemingly become more pervasive, and even for getting an e-mail address from Yahoo! - or signing up for a VK account, one needs a phone number.  On top of that, there's the possibility that even prepaid phones could start requiring personal information.  It's a potential catch-22 that hurts the poor and those that have nothing.

Also, I've been shocked to learn that many banks require credit checks even for opening mere savings accounts, which I think is ridiculous.  If it were for actual loans, then yeah, I wouldn't be opposed to credit checks, but savings accounts are much lower risk, so there is no reason why banks should require credit checks for savings accounts.  All that does is disenfranchise those who need help.

Conservatives and Republicans will often complain about those gosh darn "government regulations."  But what they don't say is that they have no problem with "private regulations" - and that government regulations often times stop those "private regulations," which would have denied help for the poor.

Take Obamacare for example.  Before Obamacare, health insurance companies could deny coverage for people due to preexisting conditions, but thanks to Obamacare, that is (hopefully) no longer the case.  Denial for a preexisting condition could be considered a privately-imposed "regulation," which is just as bad and harmful to the poor as some (I emphasize the word "some") government regulations.

To me, it doesn't matter whether the regulation is from the government or a private entity - anything that disenfranchises the poor and underprivileged is bad and should be done away with - or allow the use of waivers for some circumstances.

Also, in addition to being indifferent to private regulations, conservatives and Republicans do still love some types of government regulations.  Despite their professed love for "small government," they have had no problems implementing things like the REAL ID Act - and have favored restricting LGBT and abortion rights - and have favored requiring ID at polling stations.  It sounds like Republicans aren't all that against government regulations after all.  Completely the opposite - Republicans love regulations - just not on the big businesses who actually can afford to deal with them.  And they also have no problem with privately-imposed regulations on access to health insurance, e-mail addresses, and bank accounts.

The problem with society nowadays is that there is a poor mixture of government and private policies.  My preferred system is a proper blend of government and private entities, but the system that we have in the United States - and unfortunately in many other industrialized countries - doesn't properly help those in the most need.  For instance, a government could require that someone seeking government assistance had to get a job.  However, that system could potentially be detrimental since one might not be able to find a job since private companies have the discretion not to hire people.  Some ways to fix this sort of situation (which is unfortunately very common in many countries nowadays) would be to either waive the employment requirement - or to provide an employment guarantee - an employer of last resort.  If one couldn't find employment in the private sector, then one could be assigned a job in a government or private entity.

To be fair, although I have been critical of private entities, they have occasionally done some good things to prevent disenfranchisement.  For instance, for the unbanked, there are prepaid debit cards that don't require credit checks.  Also, one can get website domains, e-mail addresses, online accounts, and Wi-Fi for free - although as I said earlier, for such services, there seems to be a growing amount of red tape, which needs to be abolished since all it does is disenfranchise the helpless.  The helpless can't improve their lives if stuck in a catch-22.  Some things should be able to be provided with no strings attached.

In the case of requiring phone numbers for e-mail addresses, having stricter photo ID requirements, and required registration for cell phones, some will say that these security measures are done in the name of fighting terrorism.  But short of stripping everyone's civil liberties, terrorism could still happen.  Increasing verification requirements wouldn't stop anything.  A perfectly law-abiding citizen could suddenly decide to become a terrorist.  Verification doesn't need to be increased - but the actual causes of terrorism need to be prevented.

The types of assistance available now do generally help (at least to some extent) those in the middle and lower classes, but they are not enough to help those that have absolutely nothing.  The poor mixture of government and private policies keeps the helpless trapped, and both government and private policies must be properly coordinated to ensure that even those with absolutely nothing can participate in society and rebuild their lives.

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