For those of you who haven’t been following along (I don’t blame you, I haven’t written about running in months), I still can’t run. My back hurt last week and I’m taking some (more, ugh) time off. How exciting.
That being said, running has always been a huge part of my life and is the only reason I ever met a random guy named Ben a little over a year ago. He stopped me on the street to talk about the Boston Marathon, as I was wearing my jacket and he was running it a few weeks later. Running, bringing people together. Little did I know this would mean crazy trail runs and runs all over NYC. Sometimes, we do more normal things, like go to baseball games.
Hi Ben, you’re tall.
I usually explain Ben to people by saying, “I’m pretty sure he’s more obsessed with running than I am.” This generates a sideway glance combined with a statement of, “I didn’t think that was possible.” Well friends, it is. Unfortunately (or fortunately since I’ve been out of commission for the past five months) Ben has been out of the country and is now down in Florida studying for the bar exam. This limits the running escapades on my end, but I’m fairly sure he’s kept up his end.
Now what’s all this babble for? I have a point, I promise. Ben was alerted to the fact that I have a blog within a few weeks of knowing me. (“Hi, uh, I have a blog…and you’re on it.” This is how I make friends, ha.) Moving on…Ben has been working on what he calls, “The Running Economy” for awhile now, and with his birthday coming up on Saturday, it’s time to release it to the world…via my little blog.
Although you may think it’s about how to improve your running economy, becoming more efficient for the long run, it’s actually Ben’s economic theory that involves supplementing our current economy with…running. (For the record, I know extremely little about economics, although I did get an A in it in high school, along with some college credits, WIN.) So basically, I can only say things about the GDP and the invisible hand…but I offer no other economic solutions. Ben seems a bit more knowledgeable on this subject than I am, and he has sent me multiple upon multiple revisions of his Running Economy. So, in what I think is the best birthday present ever, I present The Running Economy to the Nurse on the Run readers.
Read, share, let me know what you think! And happy early birthday Ben, please come back to NYC sooner rather than later!
Running money, get it??
THE RUNNING ECONOMY:
A Sustainable Economic + Social Theory Designed to Overcome the Unemployment Crisis in the United States And Also: To Help Solve the Income Inequality, Healthcare, Global Warming, Obesity, Drug Addiction, Overburdened Prison System, Reliance on Foreign Oil and National Deficit Crises
"The best way for the United States to ensure its economic and social strength "in the long run" is to supplement the dollar with a second currency – the "mile," which is created when a participating citizen runs or walks one mile."
Introduction: The Running Economy is an idea that does not promise to create jobs. Rather than attempting to improve the unemployment rate, this theory reluctantly accepts inevitably high joblessness and overcomes its effects in a sustainable way – while also helping to remedy several other serious problems facing the U.S.
Below, you will first learn the logistical details behind The Running Economy. Next, you will read the reasons that the unemployment epidemic in the U.S. will only get worse as time moves on. Third, you will find out about the benefits of TRE. Finally, you will see what differentiates running from other similar activities to make it worthy of becoming the basis of a new currency.
I. What is The Running Economy?
-TRE will operate as follows: citizens will be given the right to use an electronic chip provided by the federal government. The chip will track all of the distance that participants travel on foot outside of their home. For every mile that they walk or run, they will create (not receive) one mile. Federal law will mandate that “the mile” be accepted throughout the U.S. as currency. Its value will be pegged to the dollar at a Congressionally-chosen rate.
-Valid injuries or disabilities that legitimately inhibit a participating citizen’s ability to travel on foot will be grounds for receipt of government benefits, unless the participating citizen has a traditional job. In addition, Americans over a selected retirement age who made a substantial portion of their life’s income through running or walking will receive retirement mileage benefits.
-Running or walking will not be the only way to make a living after TRE takes effect. There will still be plenty of members of every industry who will choose to work in a traditional manner rather than run. For example: those who excel at their particular profession or those who believe they can make a higher income by working.
-People who hold jobs or own businesses will still be able to create miles if they so choose, but their miles will be taxed at higher rates (based on their incomes) than those without non-mileage income.
II. Why the U.S. Unemployment Rate Will Only Get Higher.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the U.S. unemployment rate remains at or near its current level or gets lower, there will be no need to implement TRE. But here, unfortunately, is why that will not be the case:
1. Interest Rates – the Federal Funds Rate and the Discount Rate are both near 0%. Low interest rates have historically served as a major economic stimulant, yet the unemployment rate has gone from around 5 to more than 8% since the beginning of 2008 when rates were dropped. The rates will not stay low forever, though, and unemployment will likely jump even higher when they go up.
2. Technology – many lost jobs over the past few years are permanently gone, and every day technology becomes more capable of doing everything that humans do – faster, more efficiently, more reliably, and cheaper.
3. Global Labor Force – in many companies, maximization of shareholder value is calling for cost cutting in the form of outsourcing. A global workforce is creating greater competition for American workers.
4. Debt – today’s average college grad has taken on 47% more in loans than in 2001, even adjusting for inflation. Still, college tuition is rising 5% per year. This will force a reduction in spending compared to past graduates, (safely) assuming that salaries are not rising to match tuition rates.
5. Labor Force Participation Rate – less than 64% of the population is now considered part of the U.S. labor force, which means that they are employed or looking for employment. This is down more than 2%, or about 5 million people, from 2008. The last time the participation rate was this low was before women were integrated into the workforce. Such a low rate is unsustainable.
6. Tax and Spending – political debate aside, state, local and federal government spending will continue to drop in the foreseeable future. Although arguably necessary to balance budgets and reduce deficits, this will directly and indirectly reduce the number of employed Americans. Further, generating revenue through higher tax rates is likely to also be a component of the effort to balance budgets and reduce deficits. Higher tax historically results in less spending and investment.
For these and other reasons, we will soon need an overhaul. We will need a new, fresh, sustainable system. When the unemployment rate hits 13, 14 and 15 percent and continues to climb, that will be when The Running Economy will need to be implemented.
III. The Benefits and Problem-Solving Capabilities of The Running Economy.
-The Running Economy will provide the means for participating citizens to earn a living wage where there would otherwise be none.
-TRE will allow participants to save money for college, invest, or create capital to start businesses, bringing back America’s middle class.
-TRE will not completely cure the obesity epidemic in America, nor will it eliminate heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, insomnia, or depression. However, it will cut down drastically on all of these and other illnesses, which will improve the health and well-being of our population and reduce the strain on our healthcare system.
-The influx of miles will bring infrastructure, wealth, and traditional jobs into previously impoverished areas. This will eliminate severely poor and neglected neighborhoods.
-Creating miles will provide an ever-present alternative for those who would otherwise have no choice but to turn to criminal activity to make ends meet. This will lessen the burden on our prison system and save billions in incarceration costs.
-TRE will reduce our nation’s reliance on oil, which will provide for greater discretion in our foreign policy and arguably eliminate our need for certain foreign wars.
-The environmental benefits of more people running their errands – literally – instead of driving will help ease global warming.
- In order to personally empower recipients of government aid by enabling them to earn their own income, traditional forms of government assistance will be gradually reduced after the implementation of TRE. The diminished need for such expenditures will help reduce the federal government’s deficit. TRE will also increase government revenue through taxation of the mile and rejuvenated spending/ investment.
-Individuals (rather than the government) will hold the power to determine the amount of currency in circulation. Further, rather than the fiat system where the dollar has no natural value, the mile will be backed by the toil, sweat, and universal benefit of a one mile run. The strong intrinsic value of the mile will reduce the likelihood of inflation, which results from the devaluation of currency.
-Finally: joblessness can cause essential human emotional needs to go unfilled. TRE will allow even the unemployed to thrive as individuals and contribute in a positive way to our communities, despite not having a job. Maslow stated that aside from basic physiological demands, a feeling of safety and security is the next human necessity. This encompasses a person’s physical health, financial stability and ability to protect and provide for their family, which will all be provided by TRE. The next tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is love and belonging. Creating miles will generate these feelings because people will be working together for miles rather than competing against each other. TRE will encourage community-building, mutually beneficial relationships, and collaboration. The next level of the pyramid includes self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect. These sentiments will be created and then nurtured in those who will make a living through running, in part through the repeated achievement of a difficult task where there would otherwise be none to achieve. TRE will cause a direct increase in the happiness and fulfillment of Americans across the country.
IV. But Why Running? Why Not Poetry, Art, Soccer, Yoga, or Bodybuilding?
Why is running such a great tool to implement a new currency but other similar activities are not even mentioned in this theory? The first two qualifications are that running is 1) a beneficial activity that is 2) not limited in quantity. Most sports, much art, and the study and practice of many philosophies and religions also share these aspects. But running is the only activity to also be both 3) readily available to any person in America at any time with minimal equipment and 4) easily measurable.
Conclusion: The high unemployment rate in America, which will rise substantially and continuously starting four years ago, will create an ever-increasingly restless, unhappy, unhealthy, and unfulfilled society. The Running Economy will not lower the rate nor seek to. Rather, it will overcome the negative effects of unemployment. It will ensure that the American people continue to thrive. It will have many social and economic benefits and few detrimental effects. The best way for the U.S. to ensure its economic and social strength "in the long run" is to supplement the dollar with a second currency – the "mile," which is created when a participating citizen runs or walks one mile.
So what do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Just want to put your shoes on and run? I know I do…