Image via Francisco Diaz/Flickr
By C. Jeffery Small
Dear Representative of the People:
Based upon the current activity taking place in Washington D.C. regarding matters of regulatory reform, spending cuts, balancing the budget and reducing the deficit, it does not look like anything truly meaningful is going to be accomplished in the foreseeable future. Talk about reducing spending by trillions of dollars, whether proposed by President Obama or by Republicans such as Paul Ryan—assuming that these plans were ever to actually be put into effect—sound great until you understand that these numbers are not for next year's budget, but are unrealistically spread over a period of 10 to 30 years, all the while allowing actual government spending to continue to increase year upon year. All of this is just another example of the Big Lie once again being foisted off on the American public.
It is clear that the current Congress is not going to enact anything close to what is required to put this country back on a sound footing, so I am proposing that you take some truly bold action. Instead of continuing to dicker with your fellow politicians over budget levels and whether you are going to use a scalpel or a machete to either slowly whittle away at our future or simply decapitate us in one fell swoop, I would ask that you work to remove the decision making from Congress and the White House altogether and place it back in the hands of every individual citizen.
My suggestion is that you strive to create legislation that gives each person the option of deciding whether or not they wish to remain in, and pay for the full set of federal entitlements, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare, along with the the other 2,177 programs listed, as of July 8th, in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. For those who support these programs and wish to continue to receive, or remain in line to receive future benefits, they simply register their choice and continue to participate. Other individuals who would prefer to opt out of receiving all future government benefits would be allowed to register that choice as well. In exchange for their willingness to walk away from all past contributions to these programs, and agreeing to never receive any future pay out or aid, they would stop having entitlement payments deducted from their earnings and have their taxes permanently reduced by an appropriate amount. They would then be free to use these funds to manage their own insurance, medical and retirement needs.
It is clear that a sizable segment of the U.S. population is currently prepared to assume responsibility for their own lives, and would willingly opt out of these programs. By doing so, this would immediately and drastically reduce the future debt obligation of the federal government and go a long way towards addressing the fiscal crisis. For those who choose to remain in these programs, they would continue to pay in as necessary to keep the programs alive. To account for the shortfall that would occur in meeting current obligation with a reduced tax base, other less important areas of federal spending would be identified and eliminated, and the funding shifted over to these programs as necessary in order to keep them solvent.
In addition to our fiscal problems, this country is also currently facing great social instability. While there are, of course, many sub-groups within the following simplified designations, our society has become polarized into two broad factions: the fiscal conservatives and the social progressives. Whereas people of diverse viewpoints once coexisted peacefully together, as government has grown in size and scope, imposing its control in ever expanding areas, many people have justifiably come to feel that they are losing command over the direction and purpose of their own lives, resulting in greater levels of anxiety, dissatisfaction and unhappiness. In a country originally built upon the proud virtues of industriousness and self-reliance, we have now constructed massive institutions designed to foster helplessness and dependence. Where we could once act freely and independently in addressing our own problems and needs, the heavy hand of government regulation has eliminated many if not most of those options, requiring us to now come, hat-in-hand, begging for permission to pursue our dreams, ideas and professions in ever more restricted ways.
As government has assumed more and more control, individuals, groups and businesses have sought to curry favor with politicians and persuade them to wield government force in service of their particular needs. This has led to waring factions vying for the limited resource of favored political status, and it is this that ultimately creates the polarization of our society that we observe today. As each group tries desperately to have their particular values and goals imposed upon all others, resentment grows into anger and finally transforms into outright hatred for those who are seen as mortal enemies, bent upon denying us the ability to live in the way that we each judge to be best.
The only solution to this problem is to reduce government control over the lives of all citizens and allow them greater freedom to make their own decisions as to how best to live their lives. This is the second important benefit to be realized by giving each person in this country the ability to decide for themselves whether they wish to participate in government run entitlement programs, or prefer to take personal responsibility for their own future.
So I ask any politician or political candidate who is serious about actually addressing the problems faced by the Unites States, and who has the the confidence and courage to step beyond the ineffectual norms of Washington, D.C. politics in order to explore truly creative solutions, to give this proposal some serious thought and see if something along these lines does not, in fact, offer a realistic path to achieving meaningful immediate and long-term benefits.
(Editor's note: The above was written by Jeffery Small and posted on his site Small Thoughts for a Complex World. Stand up and take the John Galt Pledge at Mr. Small's site here.)