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Ask HN: What would you do if your income was taken care of?
50 points by samcgraw 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments





I live in Baltimore. My city just broke 318 homicides. To give you an idea our record is 353. Our police are catching kids as young as 12 with firearms. Kids as young as 14 in brutal armed robberies. If I didn't have to worry about income. I would create arcades all over the city. Complete with huge computer labs and tons of video games. My goal is to create a positive environment that kids WANT to be in. They'd receive help with school and home work, have access to the internet, tons of video games books and movies.

I really just want to get the kids off of the street. There are lots of kids here that don't have two parents that care if they succeed or not. Teach them things like how to deal with their emotions and things like conflict resolution. When I was a kid I had "play all day" arcades for $5. I can't imagine the trouble I would have gotten into if I didn't have that arcade or our library wasn't accessible. I'm in a position now where I can either leave the hood and fend for myself and my family. Or I can try and do something to make a difference. I've even considered quitting my job to pursue this. If income was no worry, I would do this.


I disagree with your solution. Less guns and more discipline at a young age would go a long way. Why should a kid take your lecturing and conflict resolution seriously if he/she hasn't been raised knowing their actions will lead to very real and immediate consequences. The prison and juvenile detention systems encourage criminality not correction. Maybe the needed education is for parents. Social shaming of abandoning your child raising spouse might help too. I'm just saying,it's always best to address the disease instead of the symptom and that at the foundation of a child's life. Just my humble opinion.

Ending crime starts with repairing the family. In certain demographics, up to ~70% of births take place without a father present in the household. Together with the pressures of being a single mother, children simply lack the guidance (or just mere presence of parents) they need at such a pivotal moment of their lives. Eventually, the street is left to raise them, and the rest is predictable.

>I disagree with your solution. Less guns and more discipline at a young age would go a long way.

Agreed, But until you can outlaw owning a gun and criminalizing bad parenting we won't see any realistic change.

>Why should a kid take your lecturing and conflict resolution seriously if he/she hasn't been raised knowing their actions will lead to very real and immediate consequences.

It because the incentive would be admission to the center. It would be part of the experience. If they're not taking it seriously or behaving inappropriately privileges will be revoked. My hope is that they will receive this type of risk reward reinforcement at the center.

>The prison and juvenile detention systems encourage criminality not correction. Maybe the needed education is for parents. Social shaming of abandoning your child raising spouse might help too.

Agreed. Maybe national ad council money can be used for this social shaming of sorts. But sometimes it's not as simple as everyone abandoning their children. But again no one criminalizes bad parenting.

>I'm just saying,it's always best to address the disease instead of the symptom and that at the foundation of a child's life. Just my humble opinion.

Agreed. We needs to attack the disease and not the symptoms. Things like passing more gun laws aren't going to help this city. We have some of the strictest laws in the country. Criminal don't follow laws. This is known. The key is to reach these kids before they're picking up guns. We need to find out what drives their urge to rob, maim, and kill. Sure we can say it's bad parenting but it also goes a lot deeper than that. I had bad parents, grew up in a single parent home, and I don't feel the need to rob or kill. Sure it's anecdotal but it just a small piece of evidence that some kids turn out fine with shitty parents.


I think the old saying "hurting people hurt people" applies. Maybe goes beyond parents ,as in "it takes a village to raise a child". I wonder if you have had good role models that you turned out well?

As far as gun laws,even in boston the US constitution applies so people get guns. Look at japan,their gun laws are so strict,their gangs(yakuza) very rarely keep guns. Sometimes cop's don't even bother to bring guns when raiding gangs! Gun laws work,so long as it isn't half baked with all sorts of exceptions and short prison times. " No guns for all civilians" with a "7-15 year prison term upon violation" is what I meany by gun laws.

Anyways,I hope you prove me wrong and do great by the kids in your city.


" criminalizing bad parenting "

We have an equivalent of Child Protection Services here in my country, and what they do is take away the children from bad parents.

It's not a great solution, there's a massive overpopulation of children in foster homes if lucky, group homes if unlucky.

I wish they did something to the parents (my radical solution would be some kind of reversible sterilization until they prove themselves able to raise a kid)

BTW there was a thread where people complained that Child Protection Services threatened some HackerNewser parents to take their children away because they left them to play in a park alone, yet they don't do anything in Baltimore?


Technically I was a free range latch key kid. I'm not sure how involved CPS here is involved in the bad parenting cases. They're probably overwhelmed with drug addicted parents and kids who's parents are criminals.

I think bad parents should be punished but I'm wouldn't go as far as to say they're criminals. It's a very slippery slope. I feel like a voluntary reversible sterilization subsidies from the government would be a pretty good idea.


Your ideas come from a great heart, but I think they're a bit idealistic.

I have a very hard time imagining children voluntarily attending classes on "how to deal with their emotions and things like conflict resolution". You're also assuming that things you were interested in as a child (arcade) will be interesting to children now. None of these attack the root causes of crime, but rather try to deal with the symptoms. Which is great, but is not a solution.


Nice idea, I do suspect the effect would be minimal though. It's not because they're bored these kids get into trouble.

Agreed. I think things like mindfulness, mentoring and conflict resolution would also go a long way. This would be more than a place to cure boredom. Think of it like the wholesome family's house in the neighborhood that no kid wants to leave. It gives them a place to learn and explore the world and themselves. This also would be aimed at a 10-14 age range. So hopefully catching them before entering the stage when they're not really thinking clearly.

Have you worked with any gang/police task forces to get their perspective? Maybe there's something you can start that doesn't rely on a whole lot of money.

I would spend more of my daytime outside in the sun. Also more impromptu travel. Those are probably my two least favorite things about having a day job: I’m inside for the best part of the day and I have to plan my travel far in advance around crowded and expensive holidays rather than taking random midweek trips when things are cheap and empty.

I’d probably keep programming, because some programming is fun. And I’d spend more time working at my theater even though they don’t pay me because I care about it in a way I will never care about my day job.

But also define “taken care of”. Currently I make more money than my parents combined yet I can still barely afford a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Any nationally reasonable level of universal basic income wouldn’t be nearly enough to get by with a comfortable life in the city. So maybe I would have to move? Not the worst thing in the world, but something to think about when people propose universal basic income, what’s the definition of universal?


Just enough? Work on mobile app gaming, mostly things people haven't touched. Converting TVTropes into a story generator. Gamifying productivity apps. Minimalizing popular PC games like X-Com, roguelikes and Transport Tycoon into something that can be comfortably played on mobile without squinting.

If I had more money, I'd love to do an accelerator to invest in marginal ideas. These dumb ideas that have no intention of going past $1M. The kind of things that regularly appear on Indie Hackers, like Ghost. They may not be growth oriented, they can have single founders, they can be done part time and more importantly, without an expensive team. No pressure to become a unicorn. I think it's an untapped market that also doesn't have to worry about competing with Silicon Valley.


That's a good idea! An accelerator for side-jobs or single-founder companies that aren't looking for more than a monthly salary and want to be their own bosses. They'll be getting an investment of a minimum yearly salary to just get by for 20% of their company. Nice.

I've been thinking along these exact lines lately too! Giving a boost to solopreneurs who can churn out 6-10 MVPs a year and then accelerating the projects that survive into a growth stage. Do you know of anyone already doing anything similar?

There's so much to do!

Set up businesses:

+ Wireless charging at distances of 2-3 meter. This will start a revolution of chip-based things for real. The main obstacle now is that no one wants to charge these all the time.

+ Artificial meat. It has the potential to reduce animal suffering tremendously.

+ Aquafarming. Create robotic infrastructure at sea that autonomously harvest algae. The 3D space potentially grows many more crops than on land.

+ 3D farming on land. If we don't rely on green houses and normal land we are much more resilient against the sun going dark by supervulcanos or comet impacts. I also think we should keep fossil fuels as a backup plan for those dark days.

+ Combine road, solar, and shadow infrastructure in North Africa. Tap the sun in such way that it benefits the continent.

Legislation plans:

+ Organizing UAV airlanes above roads. By licensing these to private companies the government can get a lot of money as with the 4G auctions. Plus, we finally can get to autonomous flying in logistics.

Write books

+ One popular science on tech. One attempt of literature.

Learn Arabic and Chinese.

Try to make Europe democratic again.

Fly to talk to people I admire and spend time with them.


First step was to take the kids out of school and go traveling through Southeast Asia for half a year.

But from a long term perspective, I just take a much more relaxed attitude towards what should be a work day and what should be a day off. Sometimes, I have weeks where I'm in the office 3 days in a row. Other times, like when conditions are right for bouldering in the forest, I go entire months without doing much more than answering the odd customer email.

I still have the two main SaaS products that replaced my day job salary ticking away in the background, but they're feature complete and have long been automated to the point where they don't take up any time to keep running. I can dev out new features when the mood strikes, but nothing is ever all that pressing.

Mostly it's all about finding the things that are important and making them a priority. It's basically just the lifestyle of most retired folks, happening 25 years earlier.


If my debts/rent/food were truly and reliably taken care of?

I would invest all my energy and anger, 25 hours/day, using every contact and connection I have, in an attempt to displace the current shitshow of "software engineering" with a true engineering society[1]. Or to put it in another way: I would not rest until the vast majority of HN readers are out of their job writing software. Too much is at stake.

I expect to get on this in 5~10 years either way: I sadly had to take a break from tilting at windmills when my debts crossed into 6 digits. Hopefully it is not too late by then.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering_ethics#General_pri...


In your opinion, what is the biggest failing of software engineering now that you hope to correct with a "true" engineering society?

In short ( and in very broad strokes ): there is virtually zero respect for the enduser's time[1]. And there are no incentives ( regulatory or otherwise ) for things to get better on this front.

[1] Note - I literally mean "time". Not security/privacy/safety/property, but more fundamentally and simply "time". Or in way better words: https://youtu.be/upu0gwGi4FE?t=1548


I would do what I do now with much less stress.

1) I teach programming to beginners and mentor juniors to help them bridge the gap to become employed faster and in more interesting jobs. I currently run a pro bono mentoring program and would expand that a lot.

2) I run a meetup group for frontend developers and would spend bit more resources on growing that and creating more opportunities for developers in the area to learn from each other.

3) I organize a tech conference and would continue doing that, devoting even more of my daily time for it.

4) I help young entrepreneurs with their ideas and offer mentoring for them (and access to my network of contacts) but hate when I have to say no due to not having enough time.

5) I would also spend more time playing board games and enjoying time with my game buddies.


That's about to happen to me, I'm about to retire on a defined pension. I'll pick up some easy contract work to make an additional $10k a year to spend on travel. I'd like to develop some simple small businesses but I'd be wasting a lot of my time battling Australian Govt. red tape. There is an opportunity to set up co-working spaces in small regional towns and affordable quality aged-care facilities but, again, the Govt. regulatory overreach would not make it much fun.

For a few months: Relax, watch netflix, eat out alot, do a few holidays. Then after that do a Phd.

Are you offering?


I'd try to contribute to something like formal verification and denotational semantics. I don't believe everyone's software needs to be as terrible as it is, but I don't see much investment in working on the problem or openings without a graduate degree.

Also more Dwarf Fortress.


My kids would have two full time parents.

Once they're at school or similar I'd likely return to school myself "just because." I cannot answer more fully without understanding what my income situation really looked like (e.g. how secure, static vs. inflation adjusted, etc).


I'd start off super productive, but realistically I'd probably end up staying home all day playing video games and working on projects around the house until my social isolation left me wallowing in depression.

I would walk to Santiago De Compostella and back home, a bit north of 4000 kilometers.

I can't say what I would do after, since this kind of experience changes someone deeply (and I'm saying this as a non religious person).


Howdy, in a former life I co-edited this documentary: https://www.travelightfilm.com/ It's been doing the festival circuit and should be released digitally in 2018.

I didn't walk the trail myself, but it was amazing to steep in these stories during the editing process.


Probably academic research (similar to what I do now), but in more of a moonshot attempt. A bit more mathematically involved than what I currently do.

More open source contributions.

More larpwriting and fiction writing. To some extent this one's always sunk by procrastination, though. :P

Visit my family more. I should do this anyway, but I'm on a lowish income and it's expensive to visit them.

Oh, more political involvement! All the current meetings of my local party's group are scheduled immediately after work. Free time would really help with that.


I would study full time mathematics and work on mathematical software. I really want to help Julia with libs.

In addition, I ll spend more time doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and improving my body.


I would write a book, cycle a lot, and improve my drawing and music skills. I would fill my entire day with creating, exercise, and people to love.

Exactly what I'm doing right now. Money doesn't change anything.

I'm working on making my BlueROV an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle). Boils down to making monocular SLAM work underwater on a raspberry pi or similar.

I think I have a path to commercialising the software, but if money was no issue I'd probably build a lionfish vacuum cleaner and gobble the suckers out of the Atlantic. More fun than hull inspections.


1 why rpi? 2 why monocular? 3 seems like you'll never be able to do vio slam because there's nothing in the ocean to track with optical flow.

Is there any potential for AUVs in treasure hunting/finding shipwrecks? I've always wondered.

- More time in the sun

- Help causes for endangered animals

- Design basic utility systems for 3rd world

- Design more efficient hydroponic systems

- Research & document hydroponic best growth conditions based off various variable such as apparatus, medium, and plant

- Design better ecology systems for land restoration

All these would be done over a lifetime as they're all pretty in-depth and timely endevours.


The entire question is based on an invalid premise. Specifically this notion that there exists a vast sum of money without strings attached. Ever hear the expression, "he who pays the piper calls the tune?"

When something is "taken care of," that implies that someone else is doing the thinking and choosing. Look at where this leads:

What would you do if your meals were taken care of?

What would you do if your clothes were taken care of?

What would you do if your travel arrangements were taken care of?

What would you do if your hobbies were taken care of?

What would you do if your home were taken care of?

What would you do if your reading was taken care of?

What would you do if your romantic life was taken care of?

What would you do if your choice to have and/or raise children was taken care of?

What would you do if your whole life was taken care of?


I'd spend a lot of time cycling every day and try to compete. It's what I've always wanted to do but I'll never have the 5-6 free hours/day and full energy to really commit to it unless I win the lottery.

Im the same - id just want to cycle and spend time with my family. I had a friend who done this - hed drop the kids at school then cycle for a few hours, then pick them up

Don’t you think you could work part-time and do this? It may require sacrifices, but if you know what you want to do then don’t spend your life not doing it.

I'm hoping to be able to do that soon. Right now school keeps me busy 8am-1am so there isn't much free time.

Play Starcraft for the rest of my life. Never do anything resembling work again.

A similar thread from earlier: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12018713

I have multiple projects I would like to do. Not sure it would be feasible to do them all at once, but if there was extra money (interpreting 'taken care of' loosely) suppose I could hire people to help me with some of them etc.

I have a lot of specific ideas for sustainable affordable housing, artificial muscles, AGI, a 3d programmable libretro frontend (already started), a skid-steer hotrod, and a new type of restaurant.

Right now the Bitcoin trading startup takes most of my time though.


Mine is already taken care of, but I still work my day job, because I love my team and don't want to leave them yet... Every year is my last year (and I am buying a boat to ravel the world), and here I am still leading the team... So be careful what you wish for, sometime it is not that easy and obvious...

I’d keep building and tinkering on projects. Probably with less worries about monetizing

I'd focus more on my music, fine art, and try to make a hand-drawn animated film.

I'd spend more time growing my own food, tending to the garden, and raising animals.

I do all of this in my spare time anyway, it'd be nice to dedicate more time to it though. Alas.


I would want contribute to more Open Source projects, probably pursue a PhD and maybe a few more Master's degrees. But honestly, I'd probably get pulled into the trap known as PS4 and accomplish nothing.

I would run either a cat or farm animal rescue shelter full time and work on my snail simulation in my spare time.

Pick up where I left off with arachne-pnr [1] and work on open-source EDA tools.

[1] https://github.com/cseed/arachne-pnr


Spend 6 months traveling the world and then I would get back to what I am doing now. I love to code and I don't ever want to "retire" from it.

Research and development on something likely to improve lives or benefit society. Non-profitable pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, environmental restoration etc.

Program for charities/non-profits, cycle more and go back uni to finish my degree.

I'd probably consider doing another degree after in either history or politics.


I would create something for early learning and creativity for young kids if I was in a situation where my income was taken care of.

The dream I have is to 'retire' early and contribute to open-source full-time. Hopefully I'll get there some day.

I ski a lot and work very lightly on things that interest me. I would like to have kids as well.

Attempt to resolve the rural EMS divide with software, remote training and IT services.

Teach (as I do now, ESL in a parish program, but maybe more), tutor, travel.

Travel more with my kids.

Teach more workshops at community maker spaces and training programs.

Mentor more kids.

Scuba dive more.


Play music professionally, contribute to Ansible or Chef in the downtime.

Help build a high-throughput, low-latency brain-computer interface.

Finally ascend in Brogue, then go bike touring indefinitely.

I would ask for more.

Computational biology, protein simulation specifically.

Yes! Protein folding could unlock huge areas of human progress

I'd spend all my time making a digital product.

Work on achieving human biological immortality.

Travel and write more

Improve data literacy / education


Use the extra money to fund a scholarship

I would travel until i found home again

What a Miss Universe stage you got here. Yet my funny "2 chicks" comment (which is an Office Space quote) got flagged? Damn!

I would probably go to art school.

Finish my book. Change the world.

Same thing I'm doing now.

Study philosophy of mind

love my girl, and travel with her for the rest of life

Fix. Health. Care.

Hypothetical question - inspiring though. Travel more, writing books, being more selective in general, with people and countries visiting , meet Emily in person ; boost my ig Nicecotedazur1 , play Golf, live healthier yet , spend more time in prayer .. That's all folks



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