Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thoughts on tax policy and other matters

November 15, 2011

I know that I am not a social conservative and in matters like abortion, sexuality and the like I tend to a libertarian position. Not so much with economic policy. It seems to me that we determine common goals in and through a democratic process and then argue about ‘fair share’ for meeting those goals. I think schools are important and that we should all participate in paying for them. I think that to do so through a sales tax is essentially regressive, meaning that it contributes to the mechanisms by which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In other words this is not the fairest way to fund schools that. My conservative friends tell me that public schools are mostly used by poorer people anyway and that the rich pay more sales tax because they spend more money, having more to spend. This seems to me an appropriate political argument, where making a case about any tax that government is “too big” is destructive of communal values that have been put in place and affirmed over time. The desirability or otherwise of government creating and maintaining a system to ensure that our citizens can retire with some measure of security and dignity is a reasonable conversation, as is whether the military budget needs to be large enough to fight two or more unpopular wars indefinitely. What does not seem reasonable is ‘line in the sand’, ‘my way or the high way’ type tactics we have seen from this congress. I’m also therefore among those who are glad that President Obama has avoided the temptation, urged upon him by many of his own party, to ‘creative a narrative’ that is the opposite and equal of his opponents. I prefer a more vigorous defense of what we should and do have in common, and why.

With that in mind I have a couple of modest proposals that overcome the ‘having it both ways’ problem that played a role in bringing down the banking system (selling bad paper and then making money again by betting that it will go wrong) and that plagues the political debate about matters of importance (government is too big for what you think is important but what I think is important is sacrosanct.)

1. Any time we go to war with the support of congress, we automatically institute a draft until that war is ended.
2. The top rate of tax for our alleged ‘job creators’ (individuals or businesses) is tied to the unemployment rates. Unemployment goes down, so does the top-tax rate.
3. Increases or cuts in taxes to pay for entitlement programs are, above some reasonable level, tied to similar increases or cuts in the military budgets.

These things should stay in place until the current climate changes and sanity is restored.

No comments: