Saturday, September 25, 2010
Pledge to America: a Different Version in Draft form
Draft Notes on a Possible Alternative GOP Pledge to America
This pledge is meant to be followed up with explicit legislation addressing the problems and directions we see as necessary for America to return to sound fiscal policies, creation of worthwhile jobs for all citizens, providing for adequate defense of the nation, and correcting the drift away from our Constitutional government, while also halting or even reversing the trend to expand the power and roles of the Federal Government.
First, we must get our financial house in order, which must entail significant strategic planning to figure out just how to do three things: raise the GDP which will create both jobs and tax revenue, institute a payback plan for the national debt, and reduce government spending by a substantial amount across the board.
The immediate key to raising the GDP has a number of components, including rapidly exploiting our national resources, such as energy from oil, gas, coal, solar power, nuclear power, wind power, and perhaps biofuels. It is not just one source that is important, it is all possible sources, including some technologies, such as clean coal, and advanced nuclear power units, that need a jump start. We need to clear the way through the bureaucracy for immediate starts on such efforts, especially nuclear power, using environmentally sound methods. Our power distribution network needs considerable extension and improvement as well. The sooner we start or augment these efforts, the sooner we build up job demands in the energy and related businesses.
We need to emphasize scientific research, and engineering development in a number of areas that lead to jobs, profit and tax revenue. To mention some of the areas that require both private and government investments there are: weather research, pollution reduction, water desalinization, energy, both conventional and nuclear, medical research, space and aeronautical research, and military weapons research. There are inventions in these areas that may well become successful products that benefit man everywhere, if proper seed money can be supplied.
We need to encourage manufacturing efforts within the US, as opposed to shipping jobs overseas. Increased automation is one path to lower cost production. Jobs can abound if production plants crank up their businesses.
Our national infrastructure needs repair especially bridges and roads nationwide, water management projects, and the power grid also as was mentioned earlier.. These projects are good job producers and add value to our lives.
We need to continue to support small businesses with loans, advice, and orders. A preference should be shown to use US businesses over foreign businesses. Some 70-80% of jobs lie in the small business sector. We must encourage small businesses to be more entrepreneurial.
The second key is taxation. Given that we have arrived at the need for a certain payback amount on the national debt per year, that sum must be put aside and paid incrementally, every quarter, for instance, so that the temptation to rob the fund is reduced. We then must examine entitlements, since their budget percentage is increasing to over 60-70%, which is not sustainable. There are hard choices to be made here, and restructuring to be done on a graduated basis so that the impact of reductions is phased out over time, and the guarantees made in the past are not ignored.
The defense program and its operating costs are yet another major element of spending. We need to find the right compromise here between maintaining a first class military force and overspending on new weapons, maintenance of old weapons and keeping too many men in service all over the world. A first class force requires significant research and development of new products, followed by test and production of adequate numbers of proven products to meet the future.
We must pay for adequate defense, and hence we must study and determine what is truly required in a non-political manner, and then provide for it in the budget and tax approaches. In the past, we have armed for war, then disarmed even more rapidly, only to find that a few years later we must arm again. It would be more cost-effective if we maintained a sufficient force ready to go that needed reasonable augmentation for war, but not the almost total rearmament that we faced before WWII, and the significant rearmament we needed for Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf wars. A policy of one big war and two small wars may be the right mixture.
Taxation in the US has been a football for many years, with those who claim that reductions benefit the creation of jobs and boosts the economy, and providing greater revenue for the government, pitted against those who claim that the benefits are not real and the economic boosts that did occur were due to other factors. The direction we should take is to review every tax or quasi tax or tariff or duties or whatever that the federal government has in place for their need, then we need to assess their effectiveness, and the impact if that tax was eliminated altogether. This would most certainly include corporate taxes and personal income taxes.
Review of Government Organizations
Such a review would have to be done in conjunction with a second review of every government operation, agency, bureau, commission, board, and such, of which there are over 1177 now in existence. Elimination of duplications of missions and functions alone in high budget agencies would most likely have a great effect on the need for a number of budget line items, or at least their cost.
More significant payoffs would result from reducing or eliminating entire government organizations, such as the Education Department.
Such an effort would most likely upset many rice bowls, but that is the political cost of creating greater efficiency and lower costs of government, meaning less need for revenue and hopefully a smaller government footprint.
In the end, the question of redistribution of wealth versus a fair tax must be answered. The conservative answer is that everyone must become a stakeholder and support the government, and it is not the government’s task to do redistribution. Hence, a fair or flat tax is preferable, provided that it can be phased in to produce the revenue required. An objective review of tax approaches should be implemented to result in a recommendation of the best way forward for the nation.
Given that such reviews can be conducted in the space of a few years, with incremental useable products, and given that those that conduct the reviews can do so objectively and honestly, it would be reasonable to expect that a substantial payoff to the taxpayers could be realized as the recommendations are implemented incrementally over time.
The entire approach to government regulation of all commerce should be examined to determine whether it is feasible and practical to create regulations and enforcement means sufficient to the need, yet without stifling the business world with excessive costs or reducing our dedication to free markets. Currently, small businesses are seriously encumbered with reporting requirements and their costs that may or may not be effective in reducing fraud and corruption, collusion and outright theft.
A significant theme of conservatives is return of the nation to constitutional government, as opposed to the extra-constitutional laws, decrees, regulations and opinions (or what have you?) laid down by the Congress, the Administration and the Supreme Court in recent years. This too, must be reviewed and carefully studied, for it has been claimed by some parties that practically every law passed since the FDR administration, or even the Wilson era, is in some manner outside of the purview of the Constitution. If so, we are continuing on the wrong track, trusting that our current desires and opinions outweigh those of the Founders in collective session, which may or may not be true.
Maintaining the charade of constitutional government, on the other hand, while wildly careening into uncharted legal waters, is sheer madness worthy of Wonderland.
Thus, phase one of this Pledge is to institute some seven or so fundamental studies and analyses, that result in concrete recommendations for implementation of cost savings and job creation that can be debated in Congress and presented to the nation for approval through their elected representatives, or by referendum of the citizens. It is expected that many of these recommendations, when implemented, would actually reverse much of the damage that the Obama Administration has done to the government, the market place, industry, and citizens in favor of more fiscally sound and politically conservative policies.
Congressional reforms are needed. To mention a few that have been placed on track to be legislated: 1) Term limits for Senators (2) and Congressmen (4); 2) Revision of House and Senate rules of operation, including fixing the rules for all time instead of allowing the next Congress to change them without legislating them; 3) Campaign financing reforms directed towards reducing the need for continual fund-raising; 4) Requiring that all amendments and riders to bills pertain explicitly to the substance of the bills, and not attaching entirely different legislation to bills; 5) Requiring that all bills contain a clear, plain-English statement of all of its provisions, thus avoiding the almost impenetrable language of the bills proper; 6) Reducing the plethora of committees, and eliminating as far as possible overlapping jurisdictions between the committees; 7) Eliminating the practice of passing bills that contain unfunded mandates for States to perform; 8) Requiring that the budget process and the appropriations process be consolidated; 9) Requiring all bills to be given sufficient time for them to be read not only by the legislators, but also by the citizens and the media, through publication of the plain text on the internet well before floor action, say, a minimum of two weeks; 10) Complete and full elimination of the practice of Earmarks; 11) Other practices where found to be out of line or questionable with respect to constitutional governance.
Our porous borders must be closed to illegal immigrants as soon as practically possible, We must also be able to have law enforcement officers identify and arrest illegal immigrants wherever encountered in the nation, for subsequent deportation actions. Use of fully armed National Guard and Army units, together with other services as needed, and with an aggressive yet practical ROE, must be authorized as a stop-gap measure.
Proper identification must be carried by aliens in the US at all times; failure to do so may result in immediate deportation. A migrant worker program must be devised that ensures sponsorship responsibilities, proper identification of the migrants, and heavy fines for employers of illegal immigrants. The loose quota system currently in practice must be revised and extended, along with significantly augmented supervision of visa provisions.
Despite massive sums being spent through the federal government on education programs, our students are not receiving the education they need. This function is best performed at the State level, and the dissolution of federal involvement would be a great benefit.
The education system is well-overloaded with non-teaching positions, ostensibly to ensure an effective learning experience for the students. This has failed. We need a return to proven methods of teaching, along with curricula that ensures students acquire the necessary knowledge to become effective citizens and productive workers.
As of this moment the combat in Iraq is winding down, and our withdrawal from direct control of the fighting has taken place, although we are still supporting the Iraqi army in significant engagements, and over 50,000 troops will remain in country in a “training” role. It is apparent that should the current Iraqi government fail or become engaged in major combat, we would run to their support. This conflict was grossly understaffed from the beginning and thus resulted in a higher casualty rate than might have been the case.
It is not clear what the status of our Iraqi nation-building and infrastructure programs is now, and what will happen to them once we scale down, but our involvement will remain expensive unless we can decide to turn these efforts completely over to the Iraqis and get out of town.
One lesson that should be remembered from this war is that nation-building of primitive nations is too time-consuming and resource depleting for the US to take on by itself, since it inevitably ends up as an expensive multi-decade problem with few guarantees that the nation will survive our complete withdrawal. We should allow the Iraqis to build their own nation in their own way and we should turn our backs on trying to do democratic nation-building from such base material in the future.
This on-going conflict to keep Afghanistan from becoming a major base for Al Qaida, and to remove the Taliban from it position of power in favor of the elected government, is enormously ambitious and expensive, and it was begun prior to our Iraqi adventure. The course we are on now is to train the home army to take over the security of the nation, and then to declare victory and withdraw as soon as possible.
Here too, we have embarked upon infrastructure improvements, largely to try to win the hearts and minds of Afghans, who will remain a primitive people regardless of the ruling organization and class we leave behind, and regardless of the economic and modernization reforms we have attempted to initiate on our dollar. This war is not winnable without enormous costs! Furthermore, we do not have the staying power this conflict and the parallel nation-building entails. We should recognize this and withdraw “gracefully”. There should be few objections to leaving behind a significant cadre of guard forces, special forces and Predators to continue their decapitation efforts.
The Global War on Terror (GWOT)
We have used this title for the worldwide conflict between the Western nations and the nations of Islam and their radical, fundamentalist Jihadists that have performed terrorist acts of unspeakable horror around the globe in the name of Allah, perhaps the greatest being their destruction of the Twin Towers in New York with the loss of over 3,000 lives.
We have refrained from labeling this war as The Global War on Islam (GWOI), sensing that might work in our disfavor within the Islamic world of 1.2 billion adherents. However, it is the Jihadists that we are fighting; there must be no mistaking this fact. Accordingly, we should label the war properly as The Global War on Jihadists (GWOJ) and be done with it! If moderate Muslims cannot recognize our right of self-defense against Jihadist acts, then they are making cause with the Jihadists, and are supporting Jihad. If moderate Muslims cannot fully support our nation against the Jihadists, then they are tacitly against the US, however pious they may seem.
There is no objective way to tell which camp a Muslim falls into, whether the Moderates, the Sympathizers, or the Jihadists, or whether a given moderate Muslim may decide to join up with Jihad later on. Thus, the only way to tell the bad Muslims is by their acts and their associations, which leaves us with either a reactive approach after the fact of some horror event or another, or a condemnation of all Muslims as either passive, potentially active, or active Jihadists, and act accordingly.
At the very least, we should be leery of massive immigration of Muslims into the nation, and we should have under deep surveillance those Muslim groups that we suspect of Jihadist leanings. We should also be leery of allowing Muslims to take sensitive government jobs, even if we do need Arabic and Farsi translators.
Labels: The Way Forward