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Empire Taxes

Empire Taxes
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Empire Taxes

Empire Taxes
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Hyperion October 22, 2004

The Hyperion Chronicles

“In your heart…are four chambers and several valves”

#321 Round 8: Show me the Money

Since this is the last major political column before the election, I’ve shoehorned in as much as possible. It’s a disparate group of topics, bonded together by the theme of money—your money—and how it’s spent. Of all the sins committed by the two main candidates—and they are legion—perhaps the worst is that they blithely promise the sun and moon and gloss over who’s going to pay for it.

Well, not here.

Let’s start with the principle that the government is spending too much money. I’m not afraid of spending money. Indeed: if you’ve read these columns, you know I’ve proposed bold new ideas that will cost a lot of money. I don’t mind doing that because unlike most politicians, I’m willing to cut unnecessary items. Most politicians are not.

For example, a recent spending bill HAD to pass. And so, every congressman with an ounce of clout got something in it for his district. The total amount of pork (extra spending unrelated to the core of a bill) was over 200 Billion dollars. It makes me madder than a Frenchie forced to take a bath1. I have already called for a law that would require every bill before Congress to be directly on point with no side issues or spending. This is essential to cut down the hidden waste. Until that happens I support the Line-Item Veto, so the president can cross out a line of unneeded spending without torpedoing the whole bill.

In 1995 Newt Gingrich took over Congress and—say what you want about him—he forced the president to adhere to a balanced budget. Truly, it was the best political thing to come out of the’90s.

Bush came in and obliterated it, and the deficits are higher than ever. For SOME of that you can blame the war on terrorism, but most is just wasteful spending. When it comes right down to it, Republicans usually spend as much as Democrats; just on different things.

Yet, I was still in favor of the tax cuts, and here’s why: Congress has proven over and over again that if they have money, they will find something to spend it on. We’re not talking about essential stuff here. We’re talking about out-and-out waste. That’s why not giving them the money in the first place is a good thing.

Along with that, a Balanced Budget is essential. A debt by the government is not a horrible thing by itself. It can even help the economy. However, the levels of debt these jokers run up is just ridiculous, and until the total debt is back to zero, I would demand a balanced budget, and after that it could never get above .5% of G.D.P (Gross Domestic Product).

I would go further than that.

The Federal Government spends too much money, period, and sets its budgets based on what they decide to take in. I would tie the Federal Budget to G.D.P. That means the government would only get to spend 19% of the American Economy each year. That’s more than enough.

What happens is that they set the budget and then “Emergencies” come up, like extra hurricanes and wars. I’m not opposed to disaster relief and prosecuting a war. But these things come up ever year. You KNOW there will be hurricanes, floods, fires, or Jackson 5 Reunion Tours (talk about your disasters). So, plan for it. Budget it in. The same goes for war. I resent how they make everything an emergency: THE TROOPS ARE OUT OF MONEY!!! Plan better in the beginning.

The way I would set it up is that the budget is prioritized. If a department has 10 million dollars to spend, they set up their budget most to least important. Then if the money is there, they can spend it all, and if not…

It’s like going to the movies: you buy the ticket, you decide whether to get popcorn and a drink, and if you have any money left over, you get the Junior Mints. If you don’t have the money, you don’t buy them! It sounds revolutionary, I know, but Washington D. C. needs to work the same way.

Along those lines, it bugs me to no end that most government departments feel the need to spend 100% of their budget or they will not get as much money in next year’s budget. I would flip that process on its head and reward departments who found they didn’t need all their allotted money.

I’ll tell you another thing: there is so much waste in the Federal Government, it makes me sicker than a straight man at a Barry Manilow concert2. A few years ago, Republicans tried to cut just 1% from each department, and the Democrats acted like they were beating old people to death with babies.

Well my friends, they can both holler like a hound dog with his ear caught in the car door3 because I would cut more than that. Setting aside whether something is even needed, I’m positive you could cut at least 10-15% of every department and help productivity, not hurt it. I would order a complete and thorough audit of all government spending. You cannot believe how much money is wasted, and how many programs are duplicated—or triplicated, or worse—in other departments.

This may well mean that the government gets significantly smaller, but that’s a good thing. The Federal Government should not be the world’s largest employer.

Gentle Reader, if you pay attention to politics at all, you know that for all the ideas being thrown out there, the two major candidates are very short on specifics. You have to admit; that’s not so here. We go into detail. Another thing we do is refuse to hide from the truth.

By far the biggest spending in the Federal Government comes from “Entitlement Programs,” that are just funded year to year because the politicians are scared to touch them, and there is no bigger 500 lb. gorilla than Social Security.

Most people already realize this, but let me just tell you up front that Social Security was a scam from the very beginning. The retirement age of Social Security was set based on when people die. It was set a year after people were dying. Do you understand what I’m saying here? This “safety net” was never designed to send old people on cruises. It was designed to take their money all their lives and then: “Look at that! They’re dead. I guess we’ll just keep the money.”

It gets worse. For decades, the program has taken in much more money than it’s paid out (these things happen when the people you’re paying die off). True to its nature, Congress couldn’t leave the money alone, and spent it like it was House money on anything and everything. But don’t worry: they left I.O.U.s.

It’s time to face a hard truth: if you’re under 40, there isn’t a chance Social Security will be there for you in its current form. If you’re between 40 and 60, I can’t guarantee you’ll get all you were promised either. Best you don’t count on it to live off of later in life. For those over 60, we’ll do the best we can, but if you’re rich, forget about it. Yes, you earned it, but the money is stretched too thin to give it to give Social Security to millionaires. Somehow, you’ll survive.

Now, I’m not unwilling to rework Social Security, but it just cannot continue in its current form. Pretty soon, it will cease to pay out more than it takes in. I’ve yet to meet a young person who didn’t understand this, and I’m unafraid to broach the subject with the rest of society. Yes, it’s tough, but it must be tackled.

[NOTE: I had written a section about drugs—on the tie-in that both illegal and prescription drugs have everything to do with money—but have concluded that this topic needs its own column, which will have to come later.]

if you boil down the Social Security fiasco to one major sin, it would have to be short-sightedness. That’s why the politicians robbed from the Social Security surplus for decades and why they won’t reform a system that can’t possibly be sustained as the Baby-Boomer generation gets old en masse.

This sin is not limited to Social Security. Both candidates have made protectionist moves that don’t make any sense in the long run. Bush—for all his talk of free trade—raised tariffs on European steel to appease Rust-Belt voters, while John Kerry goes on about the exportation of American jobs like his Economic advisors are the Insane Clown Posse.

Look: the way the world is set up, pretty much every adult (or at least family) needs a job. Nobody argues this. But we don’t live in the agrarian society of Jefferson. Money knows no borders, and we have a GLOBAL ECONOMY.

In the long run, this is a good thing. Wealth is not zero-sum-gain, and the entire world needs to get wealthier for America to prosper indefinitely. What’s more, it’s just life. It is hard to blame a corporation for wanting to put jobs where costs are lower. The answer is not to whine over these jobs, but create new ones. More on that in a minute.

One thing both sides are guilty of is tax-breaks to large corporations. In theory, the big corporations employ a lot of people, and cutting their taxes will have a ripple effect on the economy. In practice, though, the tax-breaks usually only benefit a few.

In am not philosophically opposed to all tax cuts for businesses, but I cannot abide how they are hidden from view. When I am president, all tax cuts must be listed on an easy-to-use government website that lists who gets what and why.

Next: Wall Street has to seriously clean up its act. The Enron and WorldCom debacles? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. When SO MUCH wealth is created by stocks and bonds, the investing public must be able to have confidence in the information put out by these companies. I would make it a crime punishable by a minimum 20 million dollar fine and 20 years in prison to anyone who signs off on false information for a publicly traded company. This means that C.F.O.s, C.O.O.s, C.E.O.s (and the E.I.E.I.O.s) can’t just do their little fat-cat-scratch-each-other’s-back routine while the little guy gets it in the shorts4.

I would allow a one-time Tabula Rasa, which would let every company get it’s house in order and then I expect results. And for companies making over 10 million a year, forget this self-policing garbage. There will be real inspectors with teeth.

We need to go back to the Gold Standard, at least a modified version. This is too big a topic to go into detail here, but suffice it to say I believe going off the gold standard has hurt the entire world. (What the Gold Standard means is that for every dollar printed, you have X amount of gold (hopefully a dollar) in the vaults.) In a perfect world, the money would have real value (made of silver, gold, etc.), but I don’t convincing Americans to carry around that much coin.

What the Gold Standard does is give stability to the Dollar, which so much of the world’s Economy is based on. Also, we need to crack down like fiends on Counterfeiting, which accounts for up to 30% of the dollars out there, world-wide. I’ll go into more detail on this later, but I wanted my intentions known now.

I would also eliminate the minimum wage. It acts as a suppressant on low-income earners, rather than a safeguard. There are better ways to make sure people are not getting screwed than to give employers an ready-made excuse to only pay so much.

Finally, the creation of new jobs. America is a rich country, and historically, the higher a country moves the economic ladder, the less manual labor it wants to do. America’s wealth was built on manufacturing, but it’s turning more and more to a service industry-based Economy. This cannot continue indefinitely. Wealth has to come from something real or it won’t last. In other words: we have to start making things again in a big way. Investing in the new technologies I talked about on Monday is a good start, but we have to do more.


I guess I will have to talk more about this on November 1, as it is too important to ignore and next week is filled up with Halloween. For now, I’ve done what I can. I’ve given you specifics on a host of subjects illuminating what I believe: what it means to be a citizen, how to protect the people, how to preserve honor and integrity in government, business, and daily life, how to educate, and how to make us great. I’ll keep writing about my plans even after the election, but if you don’t want to vote for me now, chances are you’re drinking Drano.

It’s been fun. Join us Monday, for Scary Stories. You’ll be glad you did.

And until then,

October 22, 2004

On a scale of 1-10, a Frenchie forced to bathe would score a 8.2
Okay, I admit: that one was reaching
Dude; what’s with me? I sound like Ross Perot
Sorry Grandma, but it could have been worse

Motto Explanation
It’s true; look it up.

Real Motto Explanation
In 1964 Barry Goldwater ran with the Campaign Slogan, “In Your Heat, You Know He’s Right”

Thanks to Laureate for Editing
Thanks to the UCLA Economists once again
Thanks to the Hyperion Institute Council


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