At least long enough so that you had time to begin to figure out how to do the transition to an alternative, while keeping things going as they were with the minimum of chaos possible in the meantime?
It certainly can't hurt if we start doing some spitball calculations and see what they might suggest.
What if we tried to figure out a total value (have it linked, say, to the price of gold per ounce, minus the difference between the inflation rate of gold, and Inflation generally in the economy -- call them gold equivalents, expressed as either our, or another's currency, and/or bulk commodity items, required to trade for an ounce of gold.) of all private, and commercial, property, as well as in place equipment, in the nation (save a single home an adult owns, and lives in), and say that it is now confiscated under eminent domain.
According to the latest (2014) Wikipedia entry (which I realize is probably only an educated guess):
The financial position of the United States includes assets of at least $269.6 trillion (1576% of GDP) and debts of $145.8 trillion (852% of GDP) to produce a net worth of at least $123.8 trillion (723% of
GDP)[a] as of Q1 2014.
What if we took that number, (minus debts as indicated, but also rounded down for allowance of things not yet considered, to, say, $50 trillion), and then said, we will divide it up amongst the population, for compensation of said confiscation, thus:
1. One quarter ($12.5 trillion). would go to wage earners who held no previous real estate, or commercial property. This would also be the default for anybody else not specifically covered in the other two groups below.
2. Two quarters ($25 trillion) would go to those who held a (to be decided) minimum amount of real estate, and/or commercial property. but were not in the top 10% of wealth holders in America now.
3. The last quarter ($12.5 trillion) would go to the top 10% of wealth holders in America.
After which we would declare that the nation now owns everything, and that every working person has a share of that ownership.
The government would then decree that everyone would stay in their existing jobs for an initial research and determination phase of transition. In this phase coordination councils (one for each main industry group), made up of industry leaders, and community representatives, would be created to administer enterprise operations. The government would set limits on all wages, prices, and profits, but would leave day to day management to the coordination councils (with regional sub councils as needed). All wages would then be paid by the government, with all profits returning to the government. Wages kept below (by market forces, and/or wage limits) a minimum determined as a living wage would be supplemented by withdraws from an individual's ownership share account, and paid by the government, who would become banker in trust for all share amounts, as well as the accounts clearing house for all other transactions. Anyone wishing to leave the country and take their shares with them could do so, but at the cost of citizenship, and owning any further shares (and where the government would have the right to break the disbursement of said shares up as an initial lump sum, with follow on monthly payments, for an orderly control of outgoing share amounts). As this might, in any case, also create supply disruptions for a while, the government might also have to ration certain commodities, but set it up so that anybody could pay extra premiums, to a point, through their share accounts, to get more limited items (perhaps setting up bidding exchanges in the case of high demand items).
What should be emphasized here is that you get your living wage padded paycheck only if you work at a job, and that everybody gets help in getting trained (paid for by the share account), in order to do so. Minimum human provisions would also be made for those who don't wish to work (subtracted from share accounts), but full voting rights of a citizen would not be allowed, and only minimum needs met.
As this would set up a complete clearing of all pre existing debts, it would undoubtedly lead to a consumption increase, which would have to be managed carefully so as to keep demand and supply in the best balance possible. It would also, I think, help us to start weaning ourselves from dependency of foreign suppliers of things we need, if we set the planning up properly.
The research and determination phase would then give us a chance to start breaking things down into what productive means we want to keep, and support, and those that we simply won't need anymore (all of marketing, and a good part of product packaging, as well as a good portion of consumer product manufacturing (which is where getting a handle on how we can standardize as much as possible for component modularity -- across as wide a range of all production as possible -- would be a huge plus, setting the stage for automated production of such modules, and much easier user assembly of final, end use items, for example).
Once we had that breakdown we could then start to figure out how each community could start to organize themselves so as to see to their own needs as much as possible. Creating the task groups that citizens in each community would need to chose from to fulfill their multiple task work for citizenship requirement. Thus enabling them to do better follow on as regards to the full training needs they'll need to get people missing basic skills up to speed for handling more than a one skill work requirement.
Again, this is just me, without very definite numbers, spitballing. Even so, it does at least hint at the suggestion that we could start a transition, Nationalization and all, and the world for us wouldn't necessarily end. Just some more things to think about as you consider the idea that "there just has to be a better way of doing things than what we have now."