Worldview: How I would fix the government and, therefore, the economy

Anyone reading this weblog knows by now that I blame the government for most of what is wrong with the economy. It spends way too much, arbitrarily regulates, makes promises it neither funds nor keeps, yet continues to grow in size and scope on an almost daily basis. None of these claims are to say that other elements have not contributed to the problems our economy faces, yet I cannot help but notice that everywhere there is a problem in our economy, there is also a government presence.

That said, I have been asked–more than once now–how I would fix the problem. Given that my ideal of a constrained-to-the-original-and-intended-limits-of-the-Constitution government would be almost impossible to implement in a meaningful way any time soon, I have tried to give the idea of a fix thought with the intent solutions that could be implemented now. Here is what I have come up with to date:

Replace the income tax with a national sales tax

One of the Constitutional mandates of the federal government is to regulate interstate commerce. Taxing individual income–that is taxing productivity–does nothing to fulfill that mandate. A national sales tax would, and would also function to fund the government in a way that could not be evaded by anyone. I agree that some amount of money should be exempted from such a tax to avoid the immediate impact it could have on lower income earners (in the form of a rebate, probably), and I think allowances should be made for certain kinds of wholesale business, but on the whole I would tax all sales at a nominal rate with targeted higher taxes on certain kinds of goods and services.

Abolish the IRS

With no income tax, there would be no reason to have an Internal Revenue Service, and it should be abolished.

Abolish the Fed

In my opinion, the Federal Reserve and the Reserve Bank system is one of the worst ideas ever conceived by modern man. Giving the government the ability to manipulate currency for its own gain, to control banks, and therefore to control every citizen’s money is immoral and unethical. Kill the Fed, and that action by itself could right the economy.

Institute an independent, judicially managed federal audit service

Our federal government is crooked. Anyone who has spent any time working for, studying, or being afflicted by our government knows this is true. It spends trillions of dollars every year, yet is constantly broke, fails to deliver promised services, constantly cuts back the services it does offer, even as those who fund it and maintain it continue to give themselves raises, make money from their positions, and pat the backs of their cronies. I would implement a quadrennial governmental review that would alternate with the presidential election cycle and that would deliver its report to the public before it delivers it to Congress as part of the budget cycle.

Thrift Social Security

Contrary to the claims of mafias like AARP, the current Social Security scheme is broken and cannot be fixed by mere tweaks. To fix the program, perhaps permanently, I would implement something very similar to the Thrift Savings Plan into which federal government workers invest as part of their retirement plans. If the system works for and has remained solvent for the government, why not for the rest of us?

Invest Medicare

I would replace the current Medicare scheme with individual medical savings accounts funded by pre-tax dollars with a government guarantee against most risk. Some sort of federally guaranteed catastrophic care insurance might be appropriate, but I think it would be rendered unnecessary by other reforms.

Abolish all federal subsidies

Yes, I mean all of them. Abolish everything from agriculture subsidies to student loans to unemployment, and instead focus on encouraging the growth of local and state entities to tackle any problems that might remain once the billions and billions of dollars currently tied up in handouts return to the economy.

Tort reform

I would reform and simplify our chaotic and unmanageable civil justice system so it favored justice over income for lawyers, especially with regard to medical, patent, and copyright lawsuits.

Reform the national incorporation system

Without an income tax, a lot of corporate law would no longer be necessary, but for what remained, I would implement a system that allowed for more categories of corporations in an effort to differentiate between small companies and the monstrous ones responsible for most of the abuse. I think I would make the consequences for breaking the law categorically far worse for larger corporations, and I would constrain the way larger corporations are allowed to function within the political and legal systems.

These are just several ideas that I think could go a long way toward improving our national situation in a short period of time, mostly by returning trillions of dollars to the economy. I am sure there are many people who would disagree, but then again, maybe they could offer their own solutions.


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Worldview: The razor’s edge

Last January, I started an experiment to see how many times I could use a single disposable razor blade before it was unusable. I discovered several years ago that the thing most likely to cause the blade to become dull was the moisture, oils, and salts left over from the shaving process instead of regular use. Critical to this experiment was the fact that I dried the blade after each shave and stored the blade face down on a tissue to wick away residual moisture.

A year later, I can report that I used the same blade to shave 85 times over twelve months, an average of 7 shaves per month. Granted, I do not shave everyday as some people do, but using this evidence, this blade would have lasted a daily shaver as many as 12 weeks. For a daily shaver, this would be a savings of around $50 over 12 weeks if you used the blades I use and replaced them weekly, or about $215 per year.

Further, even after 85 shaves, the blade I am using now is still usable and probably will be for some time to come. I expect that I may get as many as six more months before it has to be replaced, and it could last another year with proper care.

Now, I grant that I do not shave everyday, so daily shavers may get less performance, but the evidence so far is clear: it is possible to save hundreds of dollars a year on replacing razor blades by simply drying them before you put them away.

Why go to all this trouble to prove something like this? Because I believe frugality is one of the ways we are going to dig ourselves out of the mess we face as individuals and as a nation in the years ahead. I believe spending less, saving more, throwing less away, and reusing whatever we can are critical parts of making our way of life better.

Do you have other frugality tips? Let me know, and I will post them here.


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