NOTE: I haven’t given this a close read so be prepared for typos. Listening to all the sturm und drang during this election season, one gets the idea nothing can be done about anything. Or if it can, the process will be excruciating and no one will be able to stand it. Well, maybe, and maybe not. Personally, I believe much can be done with nothing more than the swipe of a pen — or some minor changes in policy. Some examples:
Education. It’s true, fail to educate the kids and the country goes down the toilet. But high school isn’t enough and college is ruinously expensive. So try this on for size. High school shouldn’t end at the 12th grade, it should go on through 14th. Not K-12 but K-14. Kids who want to stop at 12 can still do so but for those who go on, 13th and 14th grade will be at the AA or Community College level; i.e., the Freshman and Sophomore years. However, the 13th and 14th grades will be taught in the high school campuses, so no additional capital investment (buildings) need be built, just hire teachers. With this in place, what today are Community Colleges will provide the Junior and Senior years of a 4-year degree. The traditional university will be available for Masters Degrees and the PhD.
Social Security. Simply lift the earnings cap and apply FICA to all income, no matter how derived. Of course there will be some sort of means test, but it can be designed on a scale of diminishing returns, i.e., the lower your income was during your earning years, the larger your SS check will be as a percent of those earnings. Conversely, the higher you income, the smaller the check. At about $1,000,000 a year, the sliding scale becomes asymptotic and that senior citizen gets about two cents every other year.
Oh, and no more congressional borrowing from the fund.
Health Care. Medicare for all! Cradle to grave! Here’s how it will work. In the human life span of 82 years, most medical care comes in several lumps. The first is at birth. Second is middle childhood. Next comes the late teens then dropping off to the mid-20s. After that, there’s hardly any medical care needed until the mid-60s — that’s over thirty years when people are in their most robust, high earning years and seldom get sick. Later, in the mid-60s, the amount of care goes up on a logarithmic curve, finally taking a plunge straight to zero at 90. Those middle years will pay for the spikes at either end. And don’t forget attrition: people will die, and more will die each year as the cohort ages. All those paid-in premiums can now be used to lower costs.
Like FICA, your Medicare “contribution” during your years of high earnings will work like SS.
Insurance companies will be the agencies handling the Medicare program. The gods of free enterprise and market forces will keep those companies in business, preventing wholesale layoffs. However, Uncle Sam will bury proctoscopes deep in the insurance companies’ behinds so he can look in on them from time-to-time — make sure there’s no jiggery-pokery going on.
Huge punishments for fraud.
Taxes. Get rid of tax shelters; on-shore or off-shore, it make no difference. Eliminate tax cuts for off-shoring. Add a tax for importing H-1B visa workers — if hiring someone from overseas cost just as much (thanks to this tax) as hiring an American, fewer foreigners would be imported. Get rid of all depletion allowances. Hike income taxes for the rich.
To accommodate us poor chumps down below who might get a big payout on, say, selling a little business, we need to reintroduce income averaging. As it is proposed now, a one-time jackpot of $250,001 will clobber you far worse than an income of $250,000. If people are to get behind this, they have to know that a one-time event will not be confiscated. Let people average that big hit out over a period of three or four years. This was the way it used to be up until the mid-80s when The Gipper decided the little guys (that’s us) were getting away with murder, and he killed it.
Some whine that if we go after the rich, they’ll simply take their money elsewhere. OK, but they’ll have to pay a wealth export tax in the amount the export will shaft Uncle Sam. If a country (read: Cayman Islands, et al, decides to host wealth exported from the USofA, they’ll be told to send it back, or suffer the consequences.
China. By some accounts, China has stolen almost a $1,000,000,000,000 worth of American intellectual property. Well, we can’t get it back, so let’s hand China a bill and a perpetual use license. We’ll balance the amount their theft has cost us against the amount we owe them from our borrowing.