As we enter the 2020 election year—a fresh decade and new opportunities for progress toward a better world—editors at YES! decided to get specific about the world we want. As we report on stories of solutions and analyze societal problems at their root causes—capitalist greed, inequality, consumer culture, colonialism and white supremacy—we often need to remind ourselves of the goal: The world we want to see.
This vision of the world we want can guide us in choosing our government, in electing leaders who have the right plans to get us there. This vision can also help us through hard times by giving us hope. How? Because we know that pieces of this better world are being born every day, and examples of it are happening in communities everywhere.
For our Spring 2020 issue on “The World We Want,” we’re going to lay out the YES! vision for the next decade. To accompany that big-picture vision, we’re looking for reported stories that lay out the specifics: reporting on communities that are already solving these problems, and the people who are already building this better world.
In 10 years from now, here’s what we’d like to see:
Equality and fairness are driving forces of the economy. The transformation began with a 2% tax on the super wealthy—people making over $50 million. That alone was enough to fund a guaranteed basic income, universal health care, paid family leave and child care, and free public college. Reparations for slavery and the Native American genocide are being made and paid out, in addition to the guaranteed income system. In this democratic landscape, the business world is filled with worker cooperatives, nonprofits, and B-corporations and financial institutions with charters rooted in social justice. Antitrust laws have broken up conglomerates. The social safety net is strong. States use public banks to put capital back into communities. No matter where you live, the minimum wage is enough to live on. If someone wants a job, they can find one. The just transition to 100% renewables is nearly complete.
The environmental commons has grown, and water is a protected public resource. Health of natural watersheds is prioritized over corporate or private interests. Nature and its extended family—the rivers, mountains, wild animals, and flora—have constitutional rights. North America’s Indigenous tribes, who have always been stewards of the continent, have a primary role in environmental governance. The oceans are clean of all plastics because single-use plastics are illegal and we have embraced alternatives that still meet everyone’s access needs. Fracking has ended, as all fossil fuels are kept in the ground. All food is organic. All cars are electric, as is the massive U.S. train system. The science community is responsible for making climate policy. The drawdown and shift to 100% renewables is nearly complete, and agriculture and forestry are managed as carbon sinks.
Corporate and special-interest money is out of politics. Elections are free and fair, and there are several parties to choose from. Democracy at the community level is robust, with broad and diverse representation that mirrors the people represented, and the rate of civic participation is high. Elections are paid for by public funds—not private contributions. The right to vote for every person, regardless of criminal record, age 16 or above is enshrined into federal law, with the Voting Rights Act as strong as ever.
Everyone has a home. Cities and states have successfully tackled homelessness by following a housing-first model accompanied by supportive services. Lower-income people are provided with subsidies to ensure that no more than 25% of their income is spent on housing. Suburbs are dense and lively, designed as villages connected to employment and entertainment centers by efficient mass transit. Single-family homes have lost favor to duplexes, triplexes, and low-rise apartments with small footprints. Co-housing, multigenerational living, and other community-centered designs have solved housing affordability for elders and young adults.
The prison industrial complex has been dismantled. There are truth and reconciliation and restorative justice programs in every community. There is no such thing as money for bail. Jails are for violent and repeat offenders—including police officers who kill unarmed people. Illegal behavior is held accountable with mental health counseling, restitution, probation, community service, and rehabilitation. There is no such thing as drug offenses or illegal drugs, because there is no prohibition on drugs. People who need treatment for drug overuse get it, and harm reduction strategies form the core of a cultural understanding for how to address addiction.
The government has apologized for the enslavement, genocide, and oppression of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and so have corporations and families who have benefitted. Reparations are being paid. Treaties are being honored. Wide-sweeping anti-racist policies have created true racial equity—economic and socio-political. All education is free and non-biased, without white supremacist, patriarchal, or colonialist rewriting of history. Every person has equal opportunity to have basic needs met, including quality air, food, water, shelter, health care, and time for rest and play.
The U.S. is a diverse nation, and all residents have civil rights protections across race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability. No one is banned from entering the U.S. There’s a fair path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and sanctuary for those with legitimate claims of asylum. Rights of U.S. citizens extend to immigrants and refugees who work and make their homes here. The government collaboratively invests in other countries to stabilize and support economies, making humanitarian migration unnecessary.
Society is comfortable with nonbinary gender roles. A broader, more inclusive #MeToo movement ushered in an era of equity and balanced power in all areas, from politics to industry to social relationships and home life. Women have many choices for support, no longer dependent on one man or one job. Men are free from archaic notions of masculinity. Workplaces are safe and offer equal opportunity. Reproductive health care, from contraception to abortion, is free and part of holistic, basic medical care. Infant and maternal mortality are at historic lows, and are not different across race and class.
All of the stories we seek will be examples of excellent journalism and storytelling: stories that have compelling characters, are well-researched, and demonstrate struggle and resolution. Send your pitches by November 5 to [email protected]