Wait, I am not a nut. This is Real.
How bad is it?
The total jobless numbers in the US are higher than they have been since the great depression. Relative to inflation, professional salaries are down over 50%. Relative to inflation, the pay of low paid hourly workers has dropped to about 1/3 of what it was 25 years ago. The middle class in this nation has dwindled significantly.
In practical terms, our national infrastructure is falling apart. Over 40% of bridges do not meet minimum standards established by the government, interstate highways have suffered similar neglect, the country needs approximately a 50% increase in chemical plants (including fuel refineries), the same situation exists in many other industries. Electrical generation and transmission capacity are unacceptably poor, and there is no plan to fix these problems.
The US dollar is worth about 60% of its value 10 years ago. That means that price of products produced abroad have gone up over 65% (about 5% per year) plus the inflation in the companies we import from (about another 5% per year). This is due to purchase of foreign goods, corporations sending jobs abroad (thus transferring dollars to other countries) and the US government borrowing money to operate (much of it from foreign entities) and spending that money outside the US (e.g., the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The solution to all of these problems includes development of macro-economic plans at all levels of government.
Economics is more art than science. Our understanding of macro-economics is based on using statistical studies to develop models of how changes in one area affect other areas. Unfortunately, when it comes to the national level, the statistics are weak and the models leave out almost all detail.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan became fixed on the idea of "Trickle Down" economics. This is a concept (not supported by any generally accepted models) that in a "Free market economy." government actions to benefit the rich will eventually also benefit the people they purchase from, trickling all the way down to well paying jobs for the poor. This has continued to be government policy, even though it has never worked in 25 years.
For over 2000 years, governments have known of several ways to grow an economy. They include
- Make sure all people receive the basics of life (bread).
- Direct the people's attention away from the negatives (circuses) and toward the positive (goals).
- Improve public confidence in the nation (speeches).
- Create worthwhile jobs that help the nation (infrastructure).
Real economic models are much more complex. For example, the Federal Reserve uses a spreadsheet that is 64 columns by 64 rows, with an equation most of the boxes. These studies are necessary for planning, but are worthless unless the specific advice they yield is studied and implemented.
Part of the solution the nation's problems is to charge import duties on all work that is outsourced from US businesses. This means that if money is spent in other countries to buy goods or services for use within the company, import duties should be charged on the money that is spent. The duties should be high enough to partially equalize the cost of doing business in the US and in other nations. The import duties should be simplified (one set percentage for friendly nations and another percentage for other nations). The use of penalty duties should be minimized and temporary (e.g. there is a 100% duty on televisions and memory chips).
A great opportunity exists in reducing the amount of money the US government spends in foreign countries. The US needs to stop destroying and rebuilding other nations and spend that money to reduce the debt (reducing inflation) and improve the infrastructure (every dollar spent on infrastructure pays back three to five dollars in benefits). In a time of guerrilla warfare, isolationism is a valid defense strategy.
Privatization of infrastructure should cease. In many cases, it should be reversed. Especially in fields like transportation, electrical transmission and communication, local plans are necessary, but they must be collected into a coherent interstate plan. Monetary policy (operation of banks and trust companies and the creation of dollars) must be coordinated by federal government entities. Fake private corporations (those backed by the US government) must be brought back into the government (e.g., deregulation has caused two banking crises in the past decade).
Before the Reagan administration, taxes on inheritance were high enough to prevent the hording of funds within a single family. Now, those taxes are almost gone. You cannot take it with you should also mean you cannot give it away. Gift and inheritance taxes should be raised to at least 50% (the minimum to avoid inter-generational hording). An exemption should be used to permit a reasonable inheritance for middle class and poor people (about twice the median net worth).
Income tax should be simplified to a level tax system. If everybody paid the same percentage (after exemptions), this would save billions of dollars each year. Special tax incentives for individuals (such as the homeowner interest tax exemption) should be eliminated. Income tax for companies should be based on the change in book value of the company and should equal the same percentage (no exemptions) paid by individuals.
The government (at all levels) must invest in infrastructure. The jobs created by this investment will also help reduce crime (this brings up a matter for later discussion).
Health care must become part of the infrastructure. This country wastes at least 25% of our health care costs, because we do not have a single payer system and do not have coordinated plans for development of providers.
Every politician knows that for-profit corporate lobbyists are performing criminal actions with most bills they endorse or oppose. Campaign contributions imply control over the candidate for reelection contributions. Thus there is an implicit quid pro quo in these contributions (this means the politician conspiring to sell votes).
For-profit corporations should not have first amendment rights. Specifically, only individual people should be allowed to donate to election campaigns and the amount donated should be limited (no more than 5% from any one source). Political education corporations should have similar donation restrictions. Finally, political education funds should be spent only in the territory in which they were collected (e.g., no television ads for a California referendum paid for by a corporation in Florida).
The nation is in trouble. Unemployment, inflation, and infrastructure are a disaster. The tax system does not collect enough taxes, encourages outsourcing, and encourages the centralization of wealth. Regulation or outright takeover by the government is necessary in many infrastructure industries. Political contributions must be controlled to avoid the current quid pro quo system.
For every dollar spent on infrastructure, there is at least three dollars of benefit (there is some trickle down, plus advantages to people and business). On average, the taxes on the extra benefit should pay back at least half of the initial investment in the first year. Well planned improvements will pay back in full in just a few years.
Simplification of federal taxes should save billions of dollars. Elimination of tax breaks for special interests will raise tax collections considerably.
Everybody deserves a shot of the American Dream: Self sufficiency and independence. Not having to worry about the future. A house may be part of that dream, but it is not The Dream as advertisers have tried to convince us. So hold on to the real dream.