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3 Band-Aids for Our Crumbling Capitalist World

Radical Ideas: #47-49 Socialism

Housing, health care, education — seems simple enough, right?

The only way we can truly solve economic inequality in the United States is by overthrowing capitalism itself -- but until then, here are three things we can immediately do to make all of our lives a little easier.

Make health care a fundamental right.
Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and YouCaring are stacked with transgender people trying to raise money for essential medical care. Although trans people are perhaps more likely to resort to these methods to pay for their medical care than cis people -- due to the community's disproportionate poverty and unemployment rates, along with stringent insurance policies that deem medically necessary procedures "cosmetic" -- an increasing number of Americans, trans and cis, are turning to crowdfunding sites to afford life-saving treatments.

Health care is a human right, but the American health care system continues to treat it like a privilege reserved solely for those who can afford it. Many of the candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination support a single-payer model of health care, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand. The former has even introduced legislation that would expand Medicare for all Americans. Whatever the solution, something has to change. Nobody's health should be unaffordable.

Make housing affordable and accessible.
Although the Equality Act would prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the queer housing crisis goes way beyond discrimination. Homelessness, gentrification, and displacement are major issues impacting our communities, and they're hitting working-class, queer, and trans people of color the hardest.

To remedy this issue, the government could build more public housing -- actual public housing, not "affordable" housing by private developers -- and pass laws around universal rent control and eviction protection.

"When people have security in their basic needs, when they're not weighed down by anxiety around basic survival, they're more free to be themselves and live their lives," says Michael Cavadias, an actor and writer who serves as a delegate on the New York City Democratic Socialists of America's Citywide Leadership Committee. "If you know you have your home taken -- care of and your health taken care of, you can live to your fullest potential."

Make education equitable.
The American education system isn't just rife with inequality -- it reproduces inequality by design. From property tax-funded public schools to exorbitant student loan debt, it's a system that benefits those who have money and punishes those who do not: Students whose parents can afford expensive tutors and standardized test preparation do better on the SATs than students whose parents cannot, lower-income students have to balance jobs with classes while students from wealthy families can focus on their studies, and so on.

Overthrowing capitalism is the only way to solve this problem, but a more immediate, smaller picture solution might look like forgiving student loan debt, as 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren proposed in April. This would allow the systematically disenfranchised young people who had to take out those loans in the first place to achieve the same kind of economic mobility and independence as their wealthier peers.

This is one of our 50 Radical Ideas, featured in Out's June/July 2019 issue celebrating Stonewall 50. The three covers feature the enduring legacy of activist Sylvia Rivera, the complicated candidacy of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, and the triumphant star power of actress Mj Rodriguez. To read more, grab your own copy of the issue on Kindle, Nook, Zinio or (newly) Apple News+ today. Preview more of the issue here and click here to subscribe.

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