Post 2.14 - Fixing the Budget

I have been listening to interviews and reading articles about budget crisis. There is a lot of finger-pointing, but essentially, both parties are to blame if you look at the whole situation historically, especially over the last 30 years.

So here's my analysis and thoughts on the whole thing.

It is a foregone conclusion that the entire system of politics is broken. We are not governed by leaders but by financial interests on both sides of the aisle. Forget the so-called "hard" decisions, people can't or won't make the human decisions because humanity is out of the equation.

First, the playing field is not level. Jobs are exported because the labor laws in other countries are weaker and salaries are cheaper. That's it. It's not rocket science. The answer is not dropping taxes in the US, because that just means these corporations pay less money here, not that they create more jobs. Why would they? If you can hire 10 Chinese for the cost of one American, the math ends there. Americans expect a certain standard of living that people in other countries may not, so they are not going to work for that lower salary if given a choice. The unions have been a check on corporate power for just this reason -- because corporations want to pay their employees as little as possible with as few benefits as possible so they can make more money. We have dealt with this problem continually throughout our history since the Industrial Revolution, and it has been exacerbated by the increasingly intertwined and international business environment of the last 20 years.

In my opinion, the answer to this is to impose our labor laws on not just American corporations, but any corporation that wants access to our marketplace, no exceptions and no loopholes. This would increase the standard of living and labor expectations of people in other countries to align with ours, and make labor between countries and regions more interchangeable. The developing world needs the investment and decent wages just as much if not more than we do. This may be a backdoor way of imposing our way of life on other countries and cultures, but the alternative is where we are now, with abused workers the world over and people continuing to suffer because of corporate greed.

And as a bonus, we create more jobs for inspectors to enforce these standards.

Some will say, "hey, wait - won't this raise consumer prices, then?" Well, yes, perhaps in the short-term. It will take some political will, but the prices will come down as demand increases -- prices always do after new technologies are introduced. If corporations want their products to sell, they will have to adjust their markups accordingly.

Second, re-regulate the de-regulated industries. We have monopoly situations in many sectors and in many parts of the country, as companies buy each other and consolidate. This is particularly true for cable, internet, and wireless services. Where I live, I have access to only one cable company, who also provides phone service to my area. It's their way or the highway. And do we need to talk about the banking industry and how we've been played?

Third, we need socialized health care, if for no other reason that health should not be for-profit. The insurance industry will not die as a result -- they can still sell insurance in other sectors, including enhanced options like home health care workers, gym memberships, long-term care, and the like. But it should otherwise end there. If health care were not for-profit, we would be in the business of saving and extending lives, not making money from prescription drugs or keeping our people sick to get more money from them. It would promote a systemic encouragement of better health to keep overall costs down.

Fourth, the entire approach to agriculture and our food supply should be re-examined. Healthy foods should be cheaper, and foods that are bad for you should be more expensive. Make the population healthy and encourage them to be so. This will not put agriculture out of business, people will always need to eat.

These are human decisions, and do not put business ahead of the consumer or the average person. We would never have needed unions if this had been done properly and humanly.

And when establishing these guidelines, these business do not get a seat at the table, nor does anyone who has received any financial support from them. They've had their chance, they've wrecked everything, so now we have to clean it up and they have to do what they're told.

As for the tax code, all the loopholes need to be closed and exemptions wiped out. I don't know how I feel about a flat-tax, but I could envision three brackets: 0%, 20%, and 40%. And that's it. For corporations, 25% with a $2,000 credit per American employee, $4,000 per veteran. No loopholes. You want to save more money? Grow your business so you can hire more people. You want the poor to pay taxes? Make it so they're not poor. Corporations will simply go to other countries to incorporate, you say? Well, they can pay 25% tax on their sales and/or employment in the US -- the cost of access to our market.

Basic, I know, and maybe it doesn't consider a lot of nuances -- but does anyone else have anything workable and fair?

This only scratches the surface. It doesn't deal with defense, social security and pensions, environmental and infrastructure issues, education funding, and so on -- but it seems to me that every issue can be boiled down to something simple if legislators put people first or at least consider them as a meaningful part of the equation.

I am in favor of a balanced budget amendment -- we should not spend more than we have. That has to stop. So if we want to get involved in a military conflict that lasts longer than 90 days, I'd like to see a war tax per conflict. We'd quickly see which things the public wanted to do and which things it didn't.

That's "market forces".

Business does not have to be destroyed, nor does innovation or doing the things we want or need to do internationally, but the people should not suffer to favor these concepts. It's all a matter of priority and thinking about things rationally and logically, rather than politically or solely financially.

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