Artificially raise the price of gas to $10 a gallon. Use the extra money from that to subsidize employers so that the minimum wage can be upped to $10 an hour. Okay, so there's some flaws to be worked out, but I bet you a beer that if we did that, in ten years we'd have less poverty and more passenger rail.
Speaking of placing bets on the future, I was reading about Long Bets earlier, which I found from a column about online prediction markets. Huh. Y'know, besides being farmers, my parents are commodities brokers, and my dad's tried to explain futures and options trading to me, but I've never quite been able to grok it. After reading that column, though, I feel like I have a better handle on things.
Isn't it funny that online fantasy futures make sense to me, but the farm commodities futures my dad deals in are too abstract for me to understand? Maybe it's not the abstraction itself that's so hard to understand, but the relationship between the abstract and the concrete -- the July corn futures market versus the July cornfield. That's the part I don't get. But when you take that pesky physical-world thing out of the picture, suddenly the imagination can go free and wild. Why have a fantasy stock market for blogs? Why not?