In mainstream society, poverty is a tremendous waste of human resources, including time and health. "The human potential that is lost is massive," says Sky Blue, Executive Director of the Fellowship for Intentional Community and a second-generation member of Twin Oaks, the nation's largest income-sharing community. If you're opposed to capitalism and this waste of potential, Sky tells me, "there's an imperative to share income." Its proponents say it works, and they have evidence: People in such communities can live comfortably on as little as $5,000 per-person per-year; if people get too old or too sick to work, they receive support from others in the community and the care-time devoted to them is not a zero-sum game like it is with families in the mainstream economy.
The idea of people (apart from our immediate family) co-owning virtually everything with us is far, far away even from liberal visions of economic egalitarianism. Americans don't generally share, at least not at a level you can base an entire economy on. At best, in favorable political seasons, we re-distribute. But that's not enough for income-sharing adherents. They're even more radical than Marxists. "We're going beyond 'owning the means of production,'" Valerie Renwick-Porter, a writer and yoga teacher at Twin Oaks, tells me. "What we're doing is about owning every aspect of our lives."