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How About an American Expense-lowering Investment Fund? - Dilbert Blog

How About an American Expense-lowering Investment Fund?

I’ve been saying in this blog for some time that we can’t tax and budget our way to a better future. We need to work on dramatically lowering the average cost of a high-quality lifestyle. Technology can make that happen if the right startups are nurtured.

Take for example this project that figured out how to make entire  homes for $20K, using space-age methods. The big problem is that local building codes prevent new technologies from being implemented. I know that to be true because I had to forego some green design ideas for my current home for exactly that reason. The same government that insists I build with green methods prevents me from doing it in a number of cases. It’s a huge obstacle to progress.

But let’s say America decides to create an investment fund for startups such as this $20K home project, for the explicit purpose of lowering the future cost of living for low-income Americans. The fund would invest in only those companies that can make your ordinary life less expensive. But on top of investing, the government could work with the fund to remove burdensome regulations for their startups. Americans could be living in $20K homes by summer if Congress made it a priority. All Congress needs to do is make exceptions for certain companies and keep the initial trials small. If problems pop up, adjust as needed.

The investment fund could operate at a profit that gets put back into new investments, making it self-funding after a few years. And because the government can put a spotlight on companies, and it can remove red tape in some cases, the investment fund would create its own success. Its portfolio would have a huge natural advantage.

Imagine a small city built with these inexpensive homes. Imagine that since the city is designed from scratch, you optimize it for self-driving cars only. No stop lights or stop signs needed because all the cars would be in contact with each other. That takes about 80% off the cost of automobile ownership. You don’t even need car insurance in that world.

If I have a $20K home, inexpensive transportation, free WiFi, a smartphone, a laptop, reasonable healthcare, and good neighbors, I’ve got a good lifestyle. I think you could reduce the cost of living to the point where an annual income of $30K seems perfectly adequate. If you want to help veterans, the poor, and the elderly, this seems like a good way to go.

In the healthcare field we also see startups and technologies with potential to lower costs for consumers. Government red tape is slowing them down too. Consider this new technology that can detect cancer, Parkinsons Disease, and Crohn’s Disease from your breath. That could be a game-changer for costs because of early and inexpensive detection. I’ve seen several game-changing technologies just out of the UC Berkeley startup ecosystem alone.

I’ve blogged recently about the impact of optimism on economies. I could be wrong, but this sort of out-of-box approach seems more likely to happen under a Trump administration than any government that came before, in this country or any other. But we will see.

Have I mentioned that I wrote a book that you might want to buy because it is available? I’m working on a new one for October.

Have you seen my startup, WhenHub.com? If you create any interesting visualizations with the studio feature, let me know and I’ll publish it here on this blog. The visualizations are designed for easy sharing so your interactive visualization (easy to create) might go viral if you pick the right topic. You can even include a little commercial for your company in it, with links to your website. Have fun!