You should advocate education. In all it's forms.
This is an emotional appeal most people have fallen for. Think about if I can hand you something that is, in itself, a boon: if I give you food, food is good for you, and will help you. Taking that something away is a bad thing. Assume this thing is pure, and in fact good for you to have in all cases.
The problem is the circumstance in which you receive it. With college education, we take two burdens from businesses: cost and risk. The risk, in particular, is very context-sensitive: businesses know who they want to hire, and they know what direction their business is moving in; they can manage their human resources effectively by building skills in their employees. Anyone who tells you a business can't predict its need for technical people in 5 years and would be completely ineffective at planning for their workforce effectively has no idea what he's talking about.
This risk, on businesses, equates to hiring entrants for cheap, shifting crap work from highly-skilled labor (expensive) to entrants (cheap), and improving the entrants (relatively cheap, and amortized) so that more complex work can be moved from the highly-skilled labor. This allows you to reduce costs by making more efficient use of your expensive resources, rather than pouring gold over every cheap plastic bit.
On individuals, it's different. Individuals need to pick out what general market will have the most need for their skills after college (in 4 years), and move in that direction. Their ability to switch course is severely eroded after the first year (you can only front load so much gen-ed), and so they must settle on a declared major. For at least three years, they take risk in earnest; the longer they're in school, the higher the risk. If they come out into a market which is now saturated, they may face unemployment; changing careers at any stage induces sunk costs, and more costs are sunk the longer they stay in college. Likewise, a high-demand career may come with an increase in tuition costs to the student, further increasing risk. When the college is funded by tax dollars, the risk is transferred to the taxpayer basis.
With the risk transferred to individuals, businesses see an increase in available trained, skilled labor. This means they can flatten the costs of labor by lowering salaries: Instead of a $100k programmer, a $30k entrant, and $30k ($7.5k/year) paying for the entrant's college education while profiting by moving cleanup and QA off the $100k programmer to the $30k entrant and giving more tasks to the $100k programmer, the business can just hire two $60k skilled programmers. This gives the business two *skilled* programmers, instead of one skilled and on entrant, allowing greater management flexibility and the ability to implement more aggressive business strategies.
You'll notice that providing universal college education effectively reduces people's salaries and increases unemployment risk, while reducing costs to businesses and improving their ability to profit from individuals.
In other words: by giving a college education to everyone, we are disenfranchising and burdening the individual laborer, and giving a hand-out to businesses.
Interestingly, the logic above would indicate that universal education plans as such actually work out better the higher your income level: poor people can't handle these risks, and even a fully-paid tuition ending in having an oversupplied degree is worse than a situation where they only have to get hired as an unskilled entrant with a solid high-school education. Our current system is an absolute abomination, as it puts debt risk on the poor: if we can't guarantee them employment immediately out of college, they can't afford to even try. Any hope of possibly scraping by on a McDonalds salary evaporates when you have to pay your student loan debt on top of all the other shit.
Yeah, I dunno dude, automation keeps taking away more jobs. When they come for the paper pushers, I'm not sure I'm going to say anything.
That's why I'm designing a system that doesn't break that way. Remember unemployment insurance? Everyone loses their jobs, so you have to spend 10 times as much, but you didn't tax that much? And now the economy is falling apart, so you jack up taxes, and make it worse? Yeah, no. 100% saturation 100% of the time means you always have the net under everyone, and don't have to make it bigger when the economy tanks. You avoid that damage.
You do this by giving welfare to *everyone*. Mark Zuckerberg should be collecting a check from the government that's enough for a broke, unemployed asshole to afford a cramped apartment and barely-edible food; although, due to his massive income, the taxes collected from him to support it will be a shitload bigger, and he'll come out net-negative on the welfare system. That's fine; anyone who isn't on welfare comes out net-negative on the welfare system now. Thing is, if Zuckerberg falls into ruin, the money being funneled in his direction will be funneled in some other direction, and taxed, and he'll still receive that same government check without paying the same taxes.
It might be better informed guesses than the average shmuck, and avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls, but I have little faith that any social plan will work as intended. And if you don't think economics have anything to do with human culture and social trends, then I have zero faith in any economic plan you have. Like you said, it's complex.
Risk. I'm a risk professional. Or expert. I hate these words; I have a lot to learn about everything, so calling myself an expert is ridiculous. Still, there are ways to deal with risk; the first thing you must do is recognize how confident you are in an outcome, and how important it would be if you were wrong.
I prefer conservative politics because large leaps are hard to control: if I retracted the entire college education program (student loan program, mainly), we'd need to wait years for tuition to stabilize and employers to pick up the remaining unemployed and integrate new human resources management strategies, accepting all bad things *and* the possibility (and impacts) of me being totally wrong about that. I could be completely *correct*, but facing a stubborn market that hobbles itself for 15 years before new executive blood finally gets the ball rolling and starts behaving as I've predicted--which is just as bad as being wrong. I raise the issue a lot without pushing for any specific action because I don't have specific action which remains safe if the world doesn't play by my rules.
By contrast, my welfare plan includes dropping all kinds of welfare systems, repealing minimum wage, and even eliminating OASDI (old-age pensions and disability insurance through Social Security). Many of these are state-supported, and so I leave those in place: the Federal Government has no place dictating what the states do with their tax systems, *and* their welfare systems will scale back and take up the slack during transition--or if I'm completely wrong--meaning we'll have a better welfare system in all remotely-likely outcomes. OASDI is handled by cutting it back by the dividend, having a null-effect on recipients; there's a 15-year grandfathering period, after which nobody under the retirement age is going to collect old-age pensions *at* *all*, and so you have 15 years to prepare to have this new, smaller, but well-known stipend (plus medicaid and medicare) to survive in your old age.
I'm more comfortable with the welfare thing, because I can do it in pieces, with built-in controls against failure, minimizing risks. This isn't a matter of shooting randomly; it's a matter of identifying how big the unknowns are, and putting a bridge about that big across those gaps. I like this because being almost-right is good enough; by contrast, the college education thing is an important observation, but I can't give you any recommended action because I'm not an oracle and have no way to compensate for that.
I doubt it will be any less complex, or at least won't become as complex in time.
It's one administration, including claims; but the claims are automatic (keep your address or ACH updated), and the potential for fraud is minimal (you can't fake qualification; you can only defraud by identity theft).
The part where the social security admin has to directly process contracts between citizens and slum lords is probably a no-go.
That's a feature, not a requirement. It allows a two-party agreement to be facilitated through the administration, as a way for recurrent payments to come with a stronger guarantee. If the payment isn't coming, the recipient (e.g. landlord) will be informed; if the recipient cancels the contract, the collector (individual) will be informed that his service (e.g. lease) will end. This reduces non-payment risk, which means you can charge less. Of course, if the customer has some cash on hand, you can instead enter a bond with an escrow fund or such. If they refuse, you can self-insure against non-payment risk by charging them higher rent; but that may be impossible for the tenant to afford.
Honestly, that part, I think, is the part I can make the most effective argument for in any debate. The rest is radically new; but risk management is a firmly understood concept, and very easily illustrated. The rest of the market forces discussion requires a great deal of faith in economic theories the listener may not understand, and in any case cannot directly confirm against reality even if reality appears to actually behave that way.