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Sunday, December 1, 2013

My suggestions - Part 1

I have been working on this one in my head for a while. I had planned to do a post of all the suggestions I had for addressing the ills and problems I see in the world. The problem with a post like this was/is the sheer magnitude of it. I have been delaying doing it due to the time and effort involved. So, I just decided to write it as a series of posts. NOTE: I WANT feedback. I want discussion. You may or may not know, I have started another blog - just for this purpose. (FYI, this series of posts will appear there as well).

Before we get started let's do the lessons -
1) There is no government money. If you have questions on this point, I have many posts here where I expound upon this thought. Just suffice it to say ultimately all money comes from the public (you and me).

2) Corporations and businesses do not and cannot pay taxes. Same comment here - lots of posts explaining this. Bottom line - only people pay taxes. Businesses just get the taxes by raising prices on their customers (you and me again).

3) Term limits are critical to any meaningful changes to be made in our government. This includes the bureaucracy that exists today in Washington that holds a lot of the real power.

Now to the suggestions -

A) raise the voting age to 21. I can hear the gnashing of teeth now. Oh no, disenfranchising voters! Woe is me, woe is me. I was the among the first group of American young to be able to vote after reaching 18. I understand the allure of including all those that are subject to the laws in electing those that make the laws. I have one point - why do we feel it takes more maturity and life experience to decide whether to buy alcoholic beverages and/or tobacco products than to decide on the people that will govern us and make our laws? I know there are movements throughout the world to allow people as young as 16 to vote. Several countries have done so. There are various municipalities, counties, and even states that have lowered the age requirements for certain voting or registering to vote in this country. FYI, I would actually prefer a lowering of the age to purchase alcohol to 18 and raising the age of voting to 21. I feel that voting takes much more maturity and knowledge than the purchase of alcohol. If someone can convince me that I am wrong, have at it.

Further thought on the voting age - One thing I have seen that most people agree on is that most elections are a choice between the lesser of two evils. (we may not agree on who or what the evil is, but that choice nevertheless. I feel our choices have become more limited as younger voters have become more engaged. The young are more likely to be sucked into the "feel good" political-speak that surrounds campaigning. We get politicians that play to that feeling rather than truly addressing our problems and/or issues. You have to admit - regardless of the political affiliations, if the politicians that have been elected over the past 20 years had carried out their campaign promises we would be in a totally different country today. (note - I did not put "better", just good. Out of respect for the fact that we all see good and bad government differently) An 18 year old typically does not have the experience nor maturity to decide who should run the country. If municipalities and/or counties want to give a 16 year old the right to vote in local elections, I could possibly see that. (although I would venture to say the results might be disastrous depending on the number of these underage voters there are), but not for national or state level elections.

B) Eliminate and/or consolidate a large number of the departments of government. When the country was founded we had the departments of War (now defense); Treasury (now same, as well as other departments that have taken some of what was administered here, like Commerce); and State (originally Foreign Affairs, but essentially the same). The office of Attorney General was established with the Constitution in 1789 (yes 1789, not 1776 - look it up) , but the Justice department did not come about until after the Civil War.

There have been seven department/cabinet level divisions set up since WWII (8 if you include Defense which came from the consolidation of the departments of War and the Navy in 1947. FYI, the Post Office was a governmental department until 1971 when it was made a quasi-independent agency) In my opinion all seven could and should be rolled back into the department that they were spun off from. There also have been numerous lower-level departments with Cabinet level appointees set up like the department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency that I would include in this consolidation.

So, the Health & Human Services would return to its original name of Health, Education, & Welfare and absorb the functions of the Departments of Education, and Housing & Urban Development. This department would also take the food stamp program from the Department of Agriculture (yep - that's who does that - more later)

The Department of Commerce would return to it's earlier name of Commerce and Labor and absorb the Labor Department as well as the remaining Department of Agriculture (without food stamps). This would hopefully simplify the farm bills that keep being held hostage or pushed through because of the food stamp program. This would also include the Labor Department and the Transportation Department as well as the Departments of Energy and Interior.

I would then take the Department of Defense and include - Homeland Security, CIA and NSA, along with Veterans Affairs.

Then I would cut the management of the departments accordingly. You might still need a department level head, but they would not be cabinet level. You would not need as many people doing payroll, support, etc. So, lots of cuts could be made. I would challenge the remaining departments to audit and suggests cuts that could be made in other departments. This would be mandated by law to insure it was done and the manner in which it would be done. Any savings would go half to the treasury (true savings), one fourth to the department that suggested it as bonuses to be paid out to the employees, and the final one fourth to be paid out to the employees of the department being cut in the same manner. This would be done annually.

More to come. Thoughts?

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