Study Hall as a Welfare System
Down through the ages, most societies have had some mechanism for
providing aid for those in need. These have varied from one
society to another.
In some societies it has been traditional for those individuals who are
better off financially to give alms directly to those in need. In
others organized charities, often run by religious organizations, act
as an intermediary. In still others government agencies handle
part or all of this task. Most modern societies use a combination
of these methods.
When governments attempt take on this task, problems often arise.
Typically there will be some official criteria for deciding who is
truly needy and who is not. Every applicant must be evaluated in
terms of these criteria and some sort of official decision must be made
as to whether or not the person is deserving of aid. This tends
to encourage the formation of cumbersome bureaucracies, with their
attendant inefficiencies and potential for fraud and corruption.
We believe there is a better way. In addition to aiding the poor,
it also would provide funding for the arts, as well as school and
college scholarships. And it would do it with a minimum of
If you went to high school in the US, you probably remember Study
Hall. This was an unstructured class period where you could read
or study or do your homework for other classes. There may have
been a teacher present to enforce some basic rules about being quiet
and not disturbing others, but beyond that the students were pretty
much on their own.
We propose setting up a sort of Study Hall and paying people to
attend. The original idea was to do this at public libraries,
thus encouraging people to read. But almost any quiet comfortable
well-lighted space would do.
We would have an area with chairs and tables or desks, either in a
library or elsewhere. There would be a time clock at the
door. People clock in, spend some amount of time reading or
studying or writing or whatever, and sooner or later clock out.
Then we pay them some hourly rate, possibly the prevailing minimum
wage, for the time they spent there.
We wouldn't question them, beyond some minimum needed to establish
identity if their "earnings" are to be taxed. And we wouldn't
demand that they do anything in particular while they're there, as long
they don't do anything illegal or disruptive.
Thus students could get paid for time spent doing their homework, while
writers get paid for writing and artists get paid for working on their
art. Even those with no marketable skills could participate,
provided only that they refrain from disturbing others.
Some elements of traditional welfare systems, such as disability
benefits, would remain. But even so, it would be a big
improvement over what we have now.
See our FAQ.
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