Saturday, September 17, 2016

Politics: Can We All Just Get Along?

I do not venture into politics much, either in this blog or in person. But our environment is so toxic, I would like to take a crack at identifying shared goals by most of us.

1. We all want to reduce the number of impoverished people. We have different ideas on how to do it. I think capitalism is a better solution than socialism, as the latter creates so much more of an underclass. Except for the bureaucrats. They tend to do well in socialism. The more you disperse economic power in a society, the better, in my opinion.

2. Many successful capitalists turn into jerks. I think, by and large, this is because they want to solidify their position, and the by-product is keeping others from achieving it. That is why in large corporations executives might make it difficult for up and comers, fearing they might be unseated by them. This is also why top executives get paid so much. I wouldn't stop companies from paying executives so much, but would insist on transparency and not allow a company to deduct executive comp that is greater than some multiple of company average compensation on their Federal taxes. But better to have many, many successful capitalists, than a few successful bureaucrats. Successful capitalists are the "do-ers" of society. They create jobs. Not government. If you don't trust me on this, study economics. At most colleges. Not all. I also want to encourage a society where capitalists do well, and give their excess to charitable endeavors. Like Warren Buffet is trying to make happen.

3. Our tax system is way too complex. I would make the personal and corporate marginal tax rate the same. Somewhere around 20%. I put a simple tax solution in a post way back in 2012. See it here. This will cause disruption among accountants and tax lawyers. Taxes would be so easy and transparent, these professionals wouldn't be needed by individuals or corporations. Think of all the tax compliance savings!

4. Government spending. Until we reverse the alarming trend of national debt to GDP, we must spend less than revenue growth, and balanced budgets have to be the norm rather than the exception. I wouldn't do a balanced budget amendment, because elevating infrastructure investments and spending during recessionary periods makes sense to me. But until that time, Federal spending growth should be less than GDP growth. Oh, and the last balanced budget under President Clinton was spurred, in part, by Pay-Go. That system where new "programs" would have to be paid for by eliminating other programs that cost the same or more. I would put that structural discipline in place right away.

5. Federal government operation. Our rules are ridiculous. Bills would be cleaner, and more linear. No slapping on stupid amendments for pork. If it has enough support, have the pork get its own bill. And bringing a bill to the floor for vote would be easier. One requirement I would insist on is having a litmus test for programs designed to help society. If they don't meet a pre-agreed upon social objective over a reasonable time period, they automatically die. No vote needed. We tried to fix a social ill. It didn't work. Let's move on. And not worry about those that lose funding sending out press releases that we don't care "for the children".

6. Speaking about lawmaking, there are way too many laws and regulations for society to follow. Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows them all. In fact, most if not all of us break the law every day. This creates a ripe environment for tyranny, that we see playing out in front of our eyes. Don't like someone? Figure out a law they broke and go after 'em. Think about it. If I were in charge, there would be less, and the objective would be far less, rules and regs to follow, reducing the ability of powerful law enforcement and government bureaucrats to move against its citizens. And making it easier to enforce and comply, both individually and economically. Watch the bureaucrats squirm about this one.

7. World relations. We want to influence societies to be free. But our own freedoms are being eroded by the growing body of laws and regs, mentioned above, and political correctness which has curtailed our ability to solve problems. So we should take care of our own problems to show the world that, as our society matures, we make corrections to enhance freedom. And create a worthy example that other countries would like to emulate. But dictators. We have to be active in keeping them in check. If we were isolationist, our world would be a different, and much worse place, in my opinion. But our international forays would be selective, proportional, and  given the resources and the fortitude to win. Isolated cells of terrorists need not worry about a US Army battalion. But they would have to worry if they actively seek to harm our citizens. Their end will not be pleasant. But it may not be all over the news media, either. Oh, and trade. Free trade works. Few economists believe otherwise. The rub is that they must be enforceable and punitive for cheaters, making cheating so unpalatable that parties to the agreements abide by what they signed. There is a lot of angst against free trade now, but as a society we voted for free trade by buying less expensive stuff that must be made by labor that is less expensive than our own. And lets face it, union work rules made us noncompetitive in manufacturing. Shame on us.

8. Elections. Any candidate that wants to run for office, must complete a two-page resume to a non-partisan website. Page one denotes the candidate's experience. Page two has the candidate's answers to five key questions for the office sought (i.e. federal questions for federal office), in 50 words or less for each question. This is so voters like me can review candidate's qualifications and positions before getting into the voting booth. In PA, where I live, there is a tough US Senate race underway, and the ads the candidates run are ridiculously irrelevant and designed to stir up emotion, and not make us better voters. I say ignore that idiocy. Read the two-page, vote smartly.

9. Safety Net. I'm all for a transitional safety net to help our fellow citizens pick themselves up and get on their feet again. I'm all against turning families into lifelong government dependents, which I think is the consequence of a safety net without the transitional philosophy. If someone hurts their elbow and can no longer do the manual job they once did, we don't re-train to do other jobs not dependent on the elbow. We put them on disability for life. C'mon. This makes so much common sense, that the cynic in me thinks those that support lifelong government assistance (either in word or deed) are just bribing people for their vote using other peoples' money. And relegating the lifelong "drawers" to the lower economic rung for life. Sad.

Why doesn't the media cover much of the above? Instead, they assemble a panel of talking heads to discuss a tweet. 

Not sure there would be many that object to the above. Ok, accountants and lawyers, and union leaders. Other than them, why is everyone else shouting at each other?

Who's onboard?

~ Jeff

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