Thursday, December 01, 2005

Beach heads of Tax Reform



My thanks to my racquetball buddy, Tom, for sending me the following quote this week from former Allied Commander Eisenhower, http://www.eisenhowerbirthplace.org/, which provides the inspiration for this posting:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952

Now this quote is interesting from several different perspectives especially since I am a member of the splinter group which General Eisenhower deemed to be "stupid." I also find the quote interesting because he was born in Denison, Texas given his mention of a "few Texas oil millionaires."

Indeed I do want to eliminate the four public policy programs General Eisenhower's quote contains for the following reasons --

Social Security -- This Ponzi Scheme should be stopped allowing us to keep our own money. We should all be very concerned that the official U.S. Social Security Administration website features a photo of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, http://www.ssa.gov/history/quickintro.html. Bismarck did indeed create the German Social Security system but he also built the German Empire and was not shy about discrimination as evidenced in this biographical excerpt:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_von_Bismarck
Minorities /numerical majorities/ such as Danish, Frenchmen and Poles under Bismarck were discriminated as Enemies of the Empire. He particularly targeted the Poles; in his private correspondence he compared them to wolves that needed to be exterminated. This attitude led to severe measures against Polish people under Kulturkampf.

Unemployment Insurance -- Fortunately my only period of unemployment was short lived so I never accessed my unemployment benefits so it makes me wonder about the millions and millions of workers like me (my father to be more exact) who work their entire careers without a day of unemployment. Ideally since the government taxes us to support these programs they would invest (in a return yielding investment NOT "invest" the funds by spending it on new government programs) the unused/unclaimed dollars in personal accounts so that when we retire a lump sum payment is made to each person who paid into the system so we can enjoy retirement. Sadly it appears these programs are also Ponzi Schemes like Social Security as evidenced here:

http://www.deed.state.mn.us/lmi/publications/trends/0605/fund.htm
"Minnesota's Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund is bankrupt. Minnesota must borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to pay unemployment benefits to eligible applicants. Minnesota has borrowed $400 million from the U.S. Treasury as benefit payments increase. Minnesota's unemployment insurance benefits fund is working exactly as it was designed. These comments all have been made to various authorities or published by the press. They are all true. "

Labor Laws -- I will focus on one particular labor law policy for now which is known at the "Minimum Wage". This political debate is always very condescending and elitist. Be sure to watch your state legislature and the US Congress -- particularly in an election year such as 2006 -- debate the need for another increase in the minimum hourly wage rate primarily because the ruling elites view workers as an "underclass" that must be protected from cradle to grave. These debates typically center on adding another $.15 or $.30 to the current hourly wage rate. But why this amount, what econometric model is this based on?? Answer -- nothing but elitist rhetoric wrapped in populist clothing. Why don't we just end this comical debate once and for all by mandating a "Minimum Salary" of US$100,000 for every full time worker in the USA?? That seems like a nice amount plus it would free up the debate time of public officials to enact some tax reform since everyone will be rich :)

Farm Programs -- the USA has even less farmers than we did in 1952 and yet the various government spending programs in agriculture seem to live into eternity. Here are several functions at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), http://www.usda.gov, which clearly overlap/duplicate the efforts of other non-AGRICULTURAL focused entities -- "bringing housing (FANNIE MAE, FREDDIE MAC, and Habitat for Humanity have housing as their SOLE focus so USDA should leave this market) , modern telecommunications (over 95% of US households have telephone and cable TV service so again time for the USDA to leave this market, http://www.fcc.gov) , and safe drinking water (sales for bottled water continue to expand and I never see empty parking lots at Wal-Marts in rural America where bottled water is sold so, again, why is the USDA STILL providing this service??) to rural America."

Now keep in mind that General Eisenhower was an "Army" man but he should not have overlooked the important role that "marines of public policy" can play in policy battles. Here of course I mean local tax reform activists are the "marines" who create the beach heads needed in order to gain enough ground for the general taxpayers (the "army") to join in the battle.

Let me encourage my fellow tax slaves to become "marines" today by forming your own township, city, county, state, etc. tax reform/government waste watch dog organization. You can request a free copy of this publication to help you get organized:

"Standing Together: How to form a state or local taxpayer group"
via National Taxpayers Union
http://www.ntu.org
Washington DC
703.683.5700
ntu@ntu.org

I recently did this for my home county in Minnesota so I am wading to shore now for the future battles.

Semper fi,

Todd

3 comments:

Karen Gulliver said...

Did you hear the series on MPR about fraud in the Federal Crop Insurance program? Farmers intentionally buy poor seed, then use all their cunning and ingenuity to produce a poor crop so they can file for government payments. This is another program that should be eliminated. Insurance is provided by the private sector.

While we are at it, why is the federal government talking about "rebuilding" the Gulf? This is an affront to private enterprise. If there is a "market" for a rebuilt Gulf it will get done - organically. Any federal "rebuilding" program should be called what it is - pork.

Karen Gulliver said...

Another little nugget of hypocracy regarding the Gulf "rebuilding" effort. Did anyone hear Trent Lott bellowing on NPR? He is disappointed a mere $500 million has been appropriated to do nothing more than literally move dirt from one part of the Gulf coastline to another. Lott's family home was swept away in the flood. It seems that when some people are personally involved, they change their fiscal stripes. Lott collected insurance for his loss and he makes no secret of the fact that he intends to rebuild on exactly the same spot his old house occupied. Why should taxpayers keep back the sea for the Lotts? This is a perfect example of a place where federal funds are used for (very) private advantage. Let the Lotts and their neighbors pay to move dirt around. They are the ones who capture the utility. They can move the dirt from Iraq if they want to pay for it. Why are Minnesotans paying so the Lotts can rebuild on flood land?

Karen Gulliver said...

One more agency to get rid of - the Army Corp of Engineers. Let's not even talk about how this group of slackers failed to protect New Orleans, used a flawed design and then did not adequately maintain it. Let's ask why the Army Corp was ever involved in building, maintaining and monitoring a levee. What does the Army Corp of Engineers spend most of its time doing? Answer - they dredge the Mississippi River and maintain a system of old, largely useless and ugly system of dams and locks. Why do we pay for this? Some small towns along the Mississippi think their locks/dams are tourist attractions. They aren't. The flimsy-as-ricepaper reason for the waste of taxpayer dollars is to keep the river open for commercial transport.

Anyone transporting product on the Mississippi ought to pay the true cost of maintaining the waterway. If this means we need to pass along the cost of transportation to consumers - great. At least this way, we know the true economic cost of our bread. If shoreline towns and cities want to attract tourists, let them maintain their own attractions.

There is a perfectly capable, large and effective civil engineering industry in the private sector. If we look globally, the field is even larger. We don't need the Army Corp, especially for the peacetime duties. We arguably don't need them in the war effort. This is a place where the Army can outsource, gaining all the efficiencies of the private sector, saving money along the way.