These are my solutions to the economic and social problems facing the United States of America.
1. Stop taxing corporations and businesses, and end corporate welfare. This will free up billions of dollars for businesses and local, state, and federal governments. Using businesses to collect taxes from consumers only serves to increase the overhead of businesses and governments. Additionally, foreign investment will be lured to the U.S. once we no longer expect businesses to collect taxes for the government increasing employment and further increasing the tax base.
2. Continue and as needed create or raise fees that support the crumbling infrastructure businesses depend on for commerce and the government agencies that provide oversight, inspections, and worker safety. These agencies and the public infrastructure are critical to businesses and businesses should help pay for these services and infrastructure. Dollars saved by government agencies no longer policing corporate tax collection can also be used to pay for these services and infrastructure. These fees are non-negotiable, mandatory, equally applied nationwide, and non-refundable. The revenue from these fees is to be divided among the states.
3. Use the billions that corporations and businesses save by no longer collecting and turning over taxes to the government, and monies spent paying tax lawyers and accountants, to raise the minimum wage to a level that provides a true living wage, including employees’ ability to pay for health insurance. This will reduce crime and demand for public assistance. People complain about the welfare state and demand an end to public assistance. Well, paying a living wage will dramatically cut the numbers of people who depend on these programs.
4. Raise taxes on the wealthy, whose wealth has always been gained at the expense of others. The wealthy are the ones who benefit most from government programs, let them pay for their perks. The businesses they own depend on an educated workforce and don’t forget who the military is really protecting. Wealthy individuals and families receive the lion’s share of their income from investments, this means the only way to increase their share of the tax burden is to increase the capital gains tax and close the private-equity tax loophole that allows fund managers to tax their income as capital gains. Right now the wealthiest among us pay roughly a 15% tax on investment income, much less than the rate most Americans pay. Hedge fund managers also pay only 15% tax on the lion’s share of their income, as their salary is derived from a percentage of the firms profits, which is now taxed like capital gains instead of income.
5. Legalize and regulate all drugs. Legalizing and regulating ALL drugs will reduce crime, free up billions of dollars, and stop the needless destruction of our society. These dollars are better spent on education, job training and substance abuse programs. The two most destructive drugs in the world, alcohol and nicotine, are completely legal. Legalizing drugs in this country will also end our involvement in the global drug war. We spend billions of dollars in a failed attempt to stop drug production and trafficking internationally. This money would be better spent at home.
6. Use the billions saved from the legalization of drugs to fund education, job training, substance abuse programs, and create jobs to repair our crumbling infrastructure. This will reduce crime, reduce the prison population, reduce unemployment, and help stabilize communities, reducing demand for public assistance.
7. Further reduce the prison population by providing education and job training to non-violent offenders, the majority are incarcerated on drug charges, and release them as soon as they are able to seek employment.
8. As the prison population drops use the funds saved to expand job training and increase spending on higher education. The average cost of incarcerating one person is roughly equal to the tuition charged by many colleges and universities.
9. Limit those who can collect Social Security to those whose income or wealth is under the yearly amount of this true living wage plus some amount. If you already comfortably support yourself in retirement then you do not need Social Security; thanks for paying in and helping your fellow man and woman whose efforts contributed to your wealth.
10. As people become more self-sufficient use the money saved from the reduction in demand for the remaining public assistance programs to rebuild the Social Security fund that was raided to cover-up budget deficits. This change and the previous change will increase the funds available for disabled citizens without familial support. No one should live in poverty because they were born with a disability or became disabled later in life.
11. Stop calling the war on terror a war. Stop treating your own citizens and the citizens of other countries as enemy combatants and restore all civil rights to the state that existed before the Patriot Act. Terrorists not working directly for foreign governments are common criminals, treat criminals as criminals. We have allowed our government to basically kidnap, torture, and detain indefinitely what are no more than common criminals. Our government has recently extended this power to infinitely detain so called enemy combatants to U.S. citizens arrested in this country. These policies have made us less safe and probably cost in the billions of dollars.
12. Use the money saved from discontinuing the War on Terror to fight real crime, which has always been a greater threat to our national security than terrorism. The fact that almost everything that opens and closes has a lock and key represents billions of dollars spent in an effort to slow criminals down. It is important that we understand that the best way to prevent crime is to give people the tools to exploit opportunities, making crime an undesirable and unnecessary option. Increasing education and job training and freeing up funds for infrastructure repair and maintenance are more important than a police force.
13. Once the pseudo-war on terror is discontinued we will be better able to reduce military spending, freeing up billions of dollars to increase foreign aid. As we become a better world citizen our requirement for a huge military will decrease. For all the complaints about foreign aid it represents only a few percent of the federal budget, which properly spent pays huge dividends in national security and international trade.
14. Raise the need for energy efficiency and the curtailing of greenhouse gases to the level of a national emergency, which in fact it is. We are the world’s largest user of energy and producer of greenhouse gases. We must be a world leader in these efforts. This also provides huge economic opportunities to export energy technology to developing countries. We must start these programs and fund them as fully as possible to take the lead as a provider of the technology and equipment in these areas before we are left behind and buying from others.
15. We must reduce our use of our own fossil fuels. We must save as much of our own resources as possible. As long as we can afford to buy oil we should buy every drop available. This is a difficult and expensive strategic decision that will leave us in an enviable position when oil becomes scare, a scenario that some predict to be only fifty years away.
The result of implementing all of these suggestions is unlimited. Literally millions of unemployed people will not only be employed, but will be earning more, increasing the amount of income tax collected. This increase in the tax base will reduce the need to raise taxes. As people become more self-sufficient the need for public assistance will be greatly reduced, allowing those funds to be better spent for those who are disabled. As people return to work with increased incomes millions more will benefit from the billions of redirected dollars as discretionary spending increases.
Legalizing drugs will free up billions of dollars and finally stop a war on citizens that has done far more damage than the drugs ever did or will. Education, job training, and substance abuse programs will be fully funded. Families will no longer be torn apart by ineffective and cruel drug laws. All of this will increase stability in families and provid children with the support and education they will need to help this country move into an uncertain future.
Increasing education spending, especially in higher education, will help us remain a leader in R&D. Increasing spending on higher education will help us become the leader in energy efficiency and a leader in the technology required to decrease greenhouse gasses. This not only provides economic opportunities, but may mitigate the economic effects produced by climate change. We must take an international lead in the reduction of greenhouse gasses; we can ill-afford to lose our position as the world’s breadbasket.
The sum of all these changes is a better educated, more stable, productive, and secure citizenry and country that looks towards the future from a position as a world leader and partner in the international community. By making only three major changes, stop taxing businesses, legalize and regulate all drugs, and make energy efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gases one of our highest priorities, we will redirect billions of dollars for more productive uses, attract billions of dollars in foreign investment, create new industry, reduce greenhouse gases, reduce unemployment and raise wages, reduce social assistance, and substantially increase the tax base and taxes collected, creating more successful and stable communities and increasing the wealth and health of all citizens, wealthy and poor alike. All without cutting Social Security, so those who depend on this humane program are assured their genuine needs will continue to be met.