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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How the Budget Battle is Destroying America

Where are we right now?  By my estimation, we are deeply in the cesspool and it appears that we are getting ready to overflow.  After all, even a great cesspool has a capacity, and there is one more flush which will someday push it to overflow.  And that, literally, will stink.  But, sadly the odor of that fetid accumulation of political fecal regress, is not just offensive, but is becoming deadly.
First, we have to find a way to overcome the political polarity which is destroying all rational thought.  In my opinion, in the Washington political hierarchy, there are only two rational elected representatives.  There’s Bernie Sanders, who is getting ready to leave office soon, and who can blame him (the sole true independent who takes no campaign money from the oligarchs).  And, there’s Ron Paul, who refuses to sing in any Congressional chorus, although he’s holding office as a Republican.  After that, no one.  And, I’m not even saying that I agree with the view points of either, but at least they aren’t tied to some pre-ordained world view, and tend to think and view things with honesty, and don’t propose canned solutions just to satisfy the wealthy sources of election contributions.
We are now under the control of the TEA PARTY, although they represent a fairly small percentage of the Republican majority in the House.  It’s not necessary to analyze why, that is obvious:  in today’s politics, the extremes control because the extremes are the ones who capture the media.
Paul Ryan has offered his version of the cure for the budget deficit and overwhelming national debt.  It will not work.  Why?  Simple.  It fails to address the fundamental problems we have, but focuses on spending only.  The Democrats rightfully object to his proposal, however, if you can’t present a viable effective alternative, then best be silent until you can.  Sadly, in this debate, we don’t hear much of anything about what should be done.  Most of the focus is on things that we find objectionable.
So, how can the problem be solved?  First, keep the government running at all costs.  The present fiscal year ends in less than six months.  Just let that go, so that we can focus on the future.  The debate on a new budget for the next fiscal year is the one to have, beginning now.
So, where do we go now?  We can start with the recommendations of the Budget Commission.  You know, the bi-partisan group which went through months of debate over how best to resolve our fiscal quagmire.  I don’t agree with much of what they came up with, but I also believe that this is the most useful way to begin the debate.  Just deconstruct their recommendations, and start there.
There are a few things which will have to be done to make any solution work:
1.       Through away the present tax code and all of its inequities.  I mean ALL OF THE PRESENT TAX CODE, EVERY WORD, EVERY PAGE.  Replace it with a completely simple code, which would set a two tier personal income tax rate, say about 20% up to the first million, and then 35% over everything else, including dividends, capital gains, interest earnings, benefits, etc. (for the higher tier only).  Eliminate corporate taxes completely, or tax corporations only for profits they make for overseas operations.  Reinstate the Estate Tax for estates valued at more than a million.

2.      Cut military spending by at least 50%.  That’s easy.  That can be done by leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, and closing all of our overseas bases, and eliminating unnecessary weapons systems.  Don’t talk to me about national security being jeopardized by this.  It won’t be, and, in fact it will enable us to focus much more on our borders.

3.      Reduce our present non-military national security from its present size of 15 agencies to only the two necessary ones, the FBI and CIA.  This will make national security far more reliable and effective, rather than a hodgepodge of ineffectively communicating bureaucracies which can’t seem to control much of anything, including their budgets.

4.      Start taxing all carbon emissions.   If we don’t do that, not much else will matter.  Devote at least $30 billion to infrastructure and the same amount to non-fossil fuel, non-nuclear energy research and production, and pay for that with the carbon tax.

5.      Have the FED stop monetizing our debt.

There are lots of other ideas which could help, and, sooner or later we will have to completely replace the present absurd health care laws with a realistic workable program, but that’s a different, but perhaps as meaningful debate.
Will any of this happen?  Not a chance.  The can will keep being kicked down the road until we fail.  It’s the normal cycle.  Can you say Mayans?  Romans?  Greeks?  Egyptians?  There are other examples in our 10,000 year civilized history.   We are on the brink, and, sadly, when it happens, there will be global chaos.  Ask not for whom the bell tolls ….  It’s tolling for 7.5 billion people.

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