Burning kerosine for light is bad for your lungs and the environment, and it’s more expensive in the long term than using small solar lights, but people still use kerosine because it can be more affordable in the short term for someone without an up front investment budget. When organizations like Lights For Life, Lighting Africa, or The Lumina Project help bring those solar lights into communities that need them, the savings on fuel and the improved health outcomes help the economy. A recession in one region can often impact other regions economically, so it makes sense to spread the use of those lights whether you are purely selfish, completely selfless, or in between. This is just one example of a way an economic stimulus (funded through loans, investments, governments, donations, or anything else) can help improve quality of life for everyone, not just those directly helped by the stimulus.
In looking at the pros and cons of the economic stimulus package of 2008 in the U.S., most people agree that the cons would be mostly eliminated if taxpayers weren’t paying the costs of it (or weren’t paying off the long term loan that funded it). If big banks complicit in the crash of 2008 were forced to pay an additional fine that went into an investment fund for generating dividends that would be paid to taxpayers annually as an ongoing stimulus, the con would be a negative financial impact on those complicit banks and anyone holding their stock. If the same banks were forced to start selling impulse buy items at their front desks and running ads online to raise money for the same thing, the cons would be longer lines at the bank and weird ads on bank websites.
People like the idea of economic stimulus, it’s just arguable whether taxpayers benefit from any given stimulus package that they themselves fund (for a short term crash it may make sense of course).
Loans to fund solar lights are one way to fund a stimulus without taxpayers – corporate profit funds it in that scenario, and the stimulus creates ongoing savings on lighting, not a one time bonus. Another method could use required donated ad space and cash donations as punishments for companies and individuals convicted of false advertising or other financing and corporate crimes, since their marketing reach and funding can help reverse the effects of their crimes. We refer people to businesses and organizations that save and make them money, and when we offer anything for sale, we donate at least some of our profit. Both of those things stimulate the economy without taxpayer involvement too.
Do you know of other ways or better ways to improve quality of life around the world? If you have methods, organizations, or anything else we should support or know more about, please let me know, and if there’s something constructive you want to point out about any of the organizations we support, please criticize away, it’s welcomed.