Unfortunately, the years in which one actually has money come well after the prime years for enjoying this money. This creates the paradox of spry young folk without a penny to spare, and old codgers with bigger pocketbooks than they can lift.
I propose to eliminate the rat race giving everyone their projected lifetime earnings upfront at the age of twenty-one. Though this seems a quaint, utopian dream on the surface, the mechanisms to do so are already in place, and the benefits are well worth any risks.
The first major hurdle in the way is ascertaining exactly how much every individual will earn in his or her lifetime. The United States government keeps tabs on large volumes of this data. Records are kept of starting salaries, average salaries, and average yearly pay raises for every imaginable industry. Colleges also keep record of job placement rates upon graduation, and salary information for graduates starting a career. This information can be used as a base for each individual, depending upon which field he or she plans to enter. In reality, some people end up making more than the average or less than the average. This problem could be solved in a fair and equitable manner by randomly giving some people more than the average and some less. Any complainers would have the option of being paid as they work, like the old system.
Keeping in mind the idea of the time value of money - the idea that a dollar today buys more than it will tomorrow - and historical inflation rates, these base salaries can be adjusted from the values over the lifetime of the earner and adjusted into constant dollars for the day the earner turns twenty-one years of age.
Of course, not everyone works in his or her field for life, and many change jobs or take a leave of absence at some point. As an example, women are statistically more likely than men to take a break from work to bear children. All of these deviations from the established baseline salary can be predicted, however. Certain demographic groups are more or less likely than others to have changes in employment. All of these data are recorded in the United States Census, which is conducted every ten years.
These current Big Brother policies used by the United States, combined with the latest Microsoft technology, will allow the formation of a centralized computer system that knows everything about every citizen. The personal liberties issues raised by this system are but a small price to pay compared to the increased convenience. By applying these general demographic data to each individual, these effects can be factored into the final dollar value awarded upon reaching the age of twenty-one.
Thus by combining the projected lifetime salary based on field of employment, adjusting into current-year dollars, applying demographic variables to account for various changes in employment status, and randomly assigning either more or less than the average, a figure can be derived which equals very closely what the real lifetime earnings would be. This amount would then be given to each person upon the twenty-first birthday.
One issue raised is whether or not people will work for a lifetime after they have already been given all of their money. Of course they will, as it is hardly a leap of faith to assume that whatever the computer says is right. A large number of Americans already share this conviction.
The question also arises of what will happen if a worker dies before his or her time. Again, the computer will have enough information to predict these kinds of things. If any worker receives an unusually small amount, he or she can take great comfort in knowing that his or her death is imminent, and can even approximate when death will occur.
The advantages to this system are numerous. For example, many couples today start out buying a small house and raising a family. As the years go on, each house is sold and they move into a bigger house. Eventually, usually right when the last kid goes to college, the family finally acquires the house it really wants. Under the new system, however, everyone could purchase their dream house very early in life, and not have to worry about putting up with small houses and moving time and again.
Taxes would also become a thing of the past. In figuring lifetime earnings, taxes can be taken out of the totals figured and paid directly to the government. This way, everyone would know how much money they actually have to use, and not need to worry about taxes being taken out at the end of each year. Because lifetime earnings are assessed, enough people would turn twenty-one each year that the government would experience no change in tax receipts, only a difference in how many people pay them. In this way, the government's rich history of misusing tax revenues will survive unscathed.
By simply monitoring every movement of every citizen at all times, and keeping track of all the data in a centralized computer, our government will be able to provide a fuller, better life for all. The government has already made major headway into this project.
One slight drawback to this plan is that even the best statistical models cannot predict exactly who will make an invention that nets millions of dollars, or who will win the lottery. These large windfall amounts will simply have to be absorbed by everyone in the correct demographic to encounter them.
Excepting this minor flaw, a plan to pay everyone his or her lifetime earnings upfront makes more sense than the system we use now. Besides, if someone won the lottery and only saw a few dollars of it, I am sure they would understand.