Mission Statement

Mission Statement: This blog is dedicated to both political philosophy and application to current issues based on the ideas of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. Additionally, this blog strives to create an atmosphere where intelligent discussions based on the principles of logic, no matter the viewpoints expressed in their conclusions, are not only welcome, but also thrive.

To learn more, feel free to read the introduction and subsequent posts which explain the aforementioned philosophy and purpose of this blog in more detail.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Issues 11: Curbing the Influence of the Avaricious and Ambitious Politician

          As I mentioned before, one of my desires is not just to limit government, but to shrink it back to levels that are both more efficient and commensurate with the Constitution. I proposed procedural changes that will help make this possible, but the second leg of the tripod remains to be dealt with: political service itself.
          In times long past, times of war, sacrifice, and American courage, men called political office a service to their country. Men like George Washington bore the mantle of setting the precedent of what a United States President should do. When fans asked him to be something more, he declined. When he had served two terms, a sufficient time to make an impact but not so much as to be a careerist, he voluntarily stepped down. This act was emulated by Presidents for over a hundred years, until FDR decided that he was too important for the country to lose.
          Thereafter, it has been the job of the Constitution, in the form of the 22d Amendment, to limit the President to two terms of “service.” This has not translated to Congress, however, where men and women still seek to make their “career in politics.” The fact that a person may impact the country for a long period does not bother me so much as the fact that they are being elected and paid to do so. How many Americans think that they could make decisions better than some Congressmen? It is not a position that is short supply of applicants.
          The Founding Fathers envisioned political service to be exactly that—service that you rendered to your country for a short time apart from your “real” life. And it is toward that goal that I propose changes in the way Congressmen serve.
          Let’s face it, if a person is so magnanimous that they want to serve their country and make it a better place, they will overcome obstacles in their path in order to do so. No trophy, no exorbitant amounts of money, no preferential treatment would be necessary for the true patriot to stand up and serve his or her country. If you do not believe me, look at the members of today’s military. The Founding Fathers risked execution to create and serve this country; surely our Congressmen needn’t have elite-citizen status to be enticed to grace the country with their noble ideas.
          The first thing that I would change about Congress is the obvious term limits. The numbers themselves can be tweaked, but 12 years in Congress, divided any way between either of the chambers, seems best to me. This allows a person to serve at the Federal government for up to 20 years, if their service is so special and dedicated as to warrant two Presidential elections as well. The number 12 seems good because it fits easily with 6 terms in the House or 2 in the Senate, but as I said, the exact number doesn’t matter as much as the principle, to a point.
          The term limits give one major advantage to people that they don’t have now: eventually your Congressmen will be able to do what he thinks is right without worrying about straddling the fence to ensure reelection. As we see now in an example, there are some harsh and unpopular measures necessary to balance the budget. Either we must raise taxes or cut entitlements, either of which is likely to get a candidate a quick trip back home next election. With politicians not as worried about pandering to voters and special interest groups each election cycle, they will be able to make tough decisions that they think are for the benefit of the country, sans the current flowery language, veiled statements, and games. Your own research will unveil arguments not proposed here both for and against term limits, as this is an issue reaching national attention. I encourage you to add your thoughts to the comments on this blog.
          The second part of this solution is for politicians to not have a retirement system. If political position in the United States is viewed as political service, no retirement should be necessary. Retirement is associated with work, not service. Other job benefits should also be closely examined to determine which ones are strictly necessary.
          As for pay, Benjamin Franklin gave an amazing argument condemning the combination of power and money into one position where a person’s ambition and avarice may produce “most violent effects.”
          There are two sides to the argument that government service should have no pay. The first is that of Benjamin Franklin. The second is that a lack of pay would allow only the rich to participate, as they would be the only ones who could afford the associated expenses. I propose the solution of no pay, with the following stipulations. First, the government could procure adequate and optional housing to serving politicians. This would be procured housing, not money to pay for housing. Second, the government would cover all necessary and business-related expenses. These two provisions would remove the barrier of money in relation to serving, while still not paying political servants directly.
          An alternate answer may be to pay political servants at the DC rate for the lowest GS level. I don’t think this is as good as no pay, but it compromises between giving them income comparable to what the government expects people to live on and enforcing the view that they are the servants, not the elite.
          A third idea for holding Congress more accountable would be to increase its size. As counterintuitive as this sounds, the more Congressmen there are, the fewer constituents there are per Congressman. This allows for greater representation, greater accountability, and less power in each Congressman. That power that each wields is a large motivator to remain in office. An article by Jonah Goldberg details some of these benefits.
          I believe this three-part plan of term limits; retirement, pay, and benefit overhaul; and size increase will have the desired effect of making Congressmen once again servants of their country. The decrease in power and pay reduce the effects of avarice and ambition, as cautioned by Ben Franklin, while the term limits allow elected officials to stop making political service a career and focus on adherence to the Constitution rather than supporting the donors that will fund their next campaign.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Issues 10: Please, not more PROGRESS!

     As a libertarian, one of my large concerns is the size and involvement of government. I am not just concerned that it is so large and involved, but that these traits do not seem to ever lessen. Indeed, the system appears to be set up in such a way that makes it unlikely and difficult for this to happen. As Ronald Reagan told us, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth.” Our soaring deficit and inability to make enough program cuts to bring spending back in line with income is one proof of this statement’s veracity.

     Why is this? Part of it is the nature of the beast. Politicians are judged by constituents on what they do, what they vote for, what they accomplish. Unfortunately, making changes to make the government more efficient does not seem to count as an accomplishment. The two-party system makes it difficult for movements to remove programs to ever gain traction, too. A party steadfastly defends its actions for fear of being seen as weak, divided, or admitting a wrong.
     Another factor is the complexity of the government in the first place. With a budget well over $3 trillion, who will notice $3 million spent on pork? After all, that is only ONE MILLIONTH of the total budget. Think about that: our government is so large that $3 million is only 1/1,000,000 of the budget. Who cares? Numbers like that are easily forgotten.
     Take the example of wool and mohair subsidies in the National Wool Act of 1954. Paying for the production of these substances was deemed in the best interest of the government in WWII because they were used to make military uniforms. They were passed as part of another bill, and lingered even after the military stopped using them in uniforms. It wasn’t until 1995 that they were repealed. Whew, that was close. But we finally got it right, it only took time. Wait! They were reinstated you say? After we decided that they were no longer necessary (it being debatable in the first place) and went to the effort of ending the program, it was restarted just a few years later because people were not happy to lose their money? And therein lies the other side of the coin: people will generally put their own self-interest over that of the country or the Constitution.
     Although it may be politically difficult to reduce and make efficient a government, it is by no means impossible. I propose that this is a multi-step process that must address all levels of the issue, from selfish voters and politicians to procedural matters that make it more difficult. This post will only address procedures.
     The first procedure I propose to change is the act of piggy-backing many unrelated bills together. The language could say something to the effect of “only one proposition, with all of its necessary component parts, may be in any given bill.” Or maybe it needs to be “all bills may only be 2 pages long.” More articulate people than I can word it appropriately if there is ever a chance to do so. The benefits of this bill are that it forces each representative to vote for each initiative, giving voters more control over holding them accountable. If a representative votes for a separate bill that subsidizes wool, it would be very easy for opponents to paint them as irresponsible pork-supporters. On the other hand, if a representative tries to deny a major bill that has too much pork attached for that very reason, it is easy for the opposition to say “Rep. So-and-so has shown through repeated voting that he or she is against babies, apple pie, and American flags. How terrible.” Voting on each issue as a separate bill increases the transparency of the system, making it easier for voters to understand the full nature of a politician’s voting record and hold them accountable.
     The second issue is perhaps a better one for actually shrinking the government, not just slowing the wild growth: make it law that all legislation expires automatically after five years; at that point it must pass the legislative process again in order to stay in effect for five more years. This would have several benefits. First, it prevents programs from being forgotten and shelved, only to fester in the bureaucracy. Second, and perhaps most sadistically, it keeps the Federal government tied up enough with work that they will be forced to focus on only the most important issues. Those issues that are widely regarded as necessary and proper will pass votes easily, while those that are contentious will have to be prioritized for fight. The result should be smaller government that is more responsive to the people and focused on the most important issues.
     Don’t misunderstand me—this is a step, but a large part of the problem still lies at the feet of every American citizen and every politician. In lieu of systemic changes, personal sacrifice on many people’s part is necessary for positive (or negative, if you prefer the term) change. I will address those issues, most likely separately, in later posts. This is merely a suggestion of procedural changes that can make government more accountable, a prospect that should be popular enough with voters to have a chance at success.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Issues 9: Gay and Other Non-traditional Marriage

     Non-traditional marriages have been a hot issue in the United States lately, mostly through the issue of gay marriages. The Federal government has partially done the right thing in being hands-off the issue directly and allowing each state to make their own determinations. However, this way of doing things still falls short.
     One of my biggest complaints no matter the issue has been the level of discussion used to present, defend, and attack arguments. I have made no secret of this, and I would a thousand times rather have comments on this blog that disagree with me but do so intelligently and with facts and logic rather than comments that agree with me but replace that rational discussion with emotion, name-calling, or any of the other multitude of ways people talk down to each other. I wish to make the point again before going on that I welcome all intelligent comments, no matter what you conclude about politics. Comments made in the nature of “well you just hate” or “you’re a fanatic” will mostly be deleted unless they have a very good point attached.
     Now, the reason I hit that so hard this post is because I want to mention a debate by the Economist. The Economist proposed that same-sex marriage should be legal and hosted a debate with many comments. Many were great comments that intelligently portrayed the feelings of members of both sides, but just as many were useless. What was surprising to me when I read it were the number of comments that proposed the most libertarian solution to the issue: get the government out of the marrying business.
     As I said before, the Federal government doesn’t marry people directly, but as the debate points out, over 1,000 US government regulations are tied to marital status. With the Federal government leaning on marriage so heavily, yet leaving the power of actually marrying people to the states, the Feds have become inextricably tied to the argument. In the Austin Post, Texas LP chair Pat Dixon made mention of George Washington not having to get government permission to marry Martha, while saying gay marriage should be legal. The solution I propose agrees with the lack of government intervention, but focusing on removing government completely rather than adding another concept on which it must put its stamp of approval. The solution has two major facets.
     The first is to simplify the tax code to the point where marital status is immaterial. I have outlined in previous entries how this should be done. Even without the sweeping tax code changes that I propose in that article, it would still be possible to simplify the code to avoid marriage (taxing all incomes as individuals rather than giving different filing options would be the obvious first step, following by ensuring there are no marriage-related credits or deductions). This would take the Federal government out of marriage in monetary terms.
     The second issue is next-of-kin arguments. In my view of a libertarian society, a person’s next of kin would always be their legal guardian until that person is emancipated in some way, in most cases right now by turning 18 years old. After a person is emancipated and no longer being officially cared for by another person, the next-of-kin should remain unchanged unless the person makes a preference known by some other means. This preference could be anything from a religious ceremony like marriage that carries a common connotation of next-of-kin transfer, to civil agreements between any individuals, to a tattoo on your back saying “John is my next-of-kin.” In cases where next-of-kin is disputed, a judge would look at the evidence and determine who the person in question would most want to represent their interests. This next-of-kin status would then apply to any decision-making issues for an incapacitated person or property transfer issues.
     These solutions to the non-traditional marriage issue would serve libertarian principles while allowing consenting adults to enter into any contractual agreements that they deem appropriate, or live in any manner that does initiate violence or fraud on another person. This is not just a fight for gay marriage rights, but is tied to all other forms of marriage to include polygamy, polyandry, group marriages, and any other way a person may want to consensually interact with other people.
     These are the prime areas of contention in state intervention in marriage as I see them (besides the fact that a government has to license you to do it in the first place!). I have developed these from readings, conversations, and debates. If there are other areas where my proposed libertarian method would create or overlook issues, please share those with me and the libertarian community. By removing government as much as possible from these areas, and removing the need for a government marriage license in the first place, we have effectively legalized non-traditional marriages without the need for the government to “approve” of anyone’s personal actions.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Link: Rand Paul at CPAC

Senator Rand Paul spoke at the Conservative Politcal Action Conference today.  While the labels of Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc. mean next to nothing, the ideas hold paramount importance.  The Senator spoke on several issues, some of which touched on ideas expressed in this blog.  If you are concerned with Liberty, it is comforting to know that there is someone in a position to forward to the cause.  As far as I can tell so far, this would be a good man to watch and support.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Issues 8: Budget III--Solutions from the Income Side

     In his State of the Union speech, the President made clear his desire to simplify the tax code. While this is certainly a good step, it wouldn’t hurt to also bring the Federal notion of taxation back into line with the Constitution while we are at it.
     Let me start with a brief history of one of our most contentious taxes, our income tax. The Constitution says that “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.” In 1894, Congress passed a graduated income tax on various sources of income. The next year, in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., the Supreme Court held various parts of the income tax Unconstitutional. Rather than removing the individual clauses that violated the Constitution, the US Government instead decided to amend the Constitution with the 16th Amendment, saying “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
     When the Constitution is not keeping up with changing times, it should be amended. Our Founding Fathers were intelligent enough to build in a mechanism of change, but that change should be applied to broad principles, not to creating loopholes to push an agenda. Making an amendment to say that in a certain instance the government need not abide by the Constitution is certainly an abuse of the amending power. Repealing the 16th Amendment and striking down any portion of the tax code that would then violate the Constitution would be a good start to simplifying the tax code and respecting the Constitution and its intent for governance.
     As I mentioned before, cutting the four programs of Social Security, Welfare/Unemployment, Medicare, and Medicaid would cut 56% of Federal expenditures. As they disappear, so would the need for much of the income the government currently takes. As the graph shows, 45% of Federal revenue comes from personal income tax, which could eventually be done away with. This income tax should be kept until the commitments to those programs are met, but be amended to be a flat percentage tax on all incomes, without credits, exemptions, or graduations; 10% would be an admirable middle goal. When the obligations for the dying programs are met, the income tax would expire altogether.
     In addition to personal income tax, payroll tax on business, corporate income tax, inheritance tax, and any other tax associated with Americans becoming more prosperous should also be done away with. An interesting academic publication, “On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B,” highlights the potential for unintended consequences in taxing prosperity. All of these various taxes should instead be replaced by a national sales tax. This tax would tax everything that a person or business buys in proportion to the price. I would graduate this tax, with essentials such as the sale of food, shelter, and clothing not being taxed, while basic items (toys for children, books, etc.) are taxed at perhaps a 10% rate, luxury items (jewelry, cars, yachts, etc.) are taxed at perhaps a 25% rate, and finally, harmful items (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) are taxed at perhaps a 50% rate.
     This national sales tax in place of income tax has several benefits. First, it gives every individual more control over how much of their money they keep and how much they pay in taxes. In an income tax, you are taxed a certain rate as you try to prosper, without recourse. In a sales tax, especially one where necessities for life are not taxed, a person has complete control over how much of their money they keep (useful if you are saving for a certain goal) and how much is surrendered through taxation.
     It has the added benefit of indirectly having those who can afford to do so pay more taxes. The more you can afford to buy, the larger share of the tax burden you will shoulder. Additionally, businesses will still pay taxes as they purchase items to keep their business running.
     There are also ways to generate income outside of taxing honest citizens. Some ideas include using the Justice system to generate revenue through more fines and less jail time, creating the dual benefit of more income and less expense. Other Justice adjustments may make it possible to generate government revenue. I will expand on these ideas in a later posting discussing the criminal justice system and how it also may be improved to be more of a benefit to society.
     Even without the Justice system modifications, the tax changes that I mention in this entry serve multiple purposes. First, they are fairer to all citizens. Second, they give every individual more control over how much of their money is kept and put toward ends they deem beneficial compared to how much is taken by the government. Third, it does all of this while ensuring that those who can afford to pay a larger share of taxes do so. Finally, it simplifies the tax code to be straightforward without the loopholes that many people use to pay less in taxes or to not pay taxes at all. The best part is that we can accomplish all of this while still maintaining the libertarian principle of limiting government’s involvement to bare minimums, allowing each individual the most freedom, and still supporting the necessary government functions through some taxation. Let’s be honest; no matter how taxes are distributed or collected, they suck. This way just sucks the least.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Issues 7: Budget II--Solutions from the Expense Side

     When discussing how to balance a budget, there are only two options. One can increase revenue, or decrease spending. As a proponent of libertarian ideas, I would suggest cutting spending to the point where all spending is supporting one of the necessary purposes of government without undue excess. When this point is reached, it is time to increase revenue, because a government without a budget is not a viable government. Since four out of the top five programs, totaling over 56% of the budget, are not in the federal government scope of protecting people’s liberties and opportunities from force and fraud, I think it is obvious where we must start, although the specifics do get more nuanced.

     Without mincing words, I will say it—Social Security, Unemployment/Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid should be done away with at the federal level. These programs are outside of both the libertarian idea of government, as well as the US Constitution’s outlined purpose of the federal government. No responsible government can, however, leave promises unfulfilled. Many retired people were promised Social Security, and have planned their lives around this government support. People have also made life plans on Unemployment, Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid and to remove these pillars from beneath honest Americans would be a travesty. The best solution to both promote liberty and maintain integrity is to honor these commitments to their conclusions, while not making any new commitments.
     Retired people need to keep getting social security, while those who have paid into social security in any way need to be compensated at the expected rate, calculated from when they started paying to when the program is legally “disbanded.” No new social security obligations should be made. This will almost certainly require temporarily increasing revenue in order to cover the cost of meeting the obligations already incurred, but connected taxes would expire as the commitment to the program comes to an end, much like I discussed in the last entry. This solution would in the long run correct an overstep by federal government and reduce the federal budget. The same principles should be applied to other federal programs that overstep the reach of the government.
     Despite the lack of support to the American people by the federal government that I propose, I am not heartless. Depending on the Constitutions of the individual states, these functions could be resumed at the state level depending on the people’s wishes at a lower level of government. With greater person-to-politician representation and easier transit between states, this lets state government be more responsive and diverse in dealing with contentious political issues. This, in turn, lets programs of support continue in some areas while others maintain a greater measure of liberty, all the while allowing Americans to easily live under a local government that they support and believe in.
     Additionally, many social practices can fill the void left by these programs. Many churches and communities regularly come together to support overwhelming medical bills. Medical insurance itself could change to a form more like car insurance, where people pay for routine visits (oil change or physical examination), and insurance companies cover only major problems. Social Security is a program that could be all but done away with solely by intelligent personal financial decisions and stronger family cohesion. Many cultures around the world have multiple generations of family living in a single house, the young supporting the old just as the young were themselves supported in childhood. My point in saying these things is not to suggest that they are a reason to get rid of federal programs or that people should change the way they live, but that when the federal support net is not available, human ingenuity finds ways to survive and prosper.
     Another behemoth within the budget is the defense allocation. While defense is unquestionably one of the functions of government, the budget for defense does not necessarily need to be as large as it is, either. When a private company comes to the end of the year with unspent money, they proudly show that they have done more with fewer resources and boast how much money they saved their customers (in the military’s case, the public). On a fixed budget, the leaders instead rush to spend the remainder of the budget. The reasoning is simple—when you have unspent money, it means you are budgeted too much, and you lose money the next budgeting cycle. In an environment where brothers-in-arms contend with each other for their portion of the budget, not spending your money is akin to losing money. It is possible for even the DoD to get by with less (though previous stipulations about increased spending during a time of war bear further investigation).
     This principle of getting by with less can be applied to any Federal department that falls within the bounds of the Constitution (i.e. that does not deserve to be cut completely). Businesses who do not have the option to print money and consequently must spend within their limits have developed many ways to do this effectively. The government, if they do not do so already, should hire business analysts with the sole function of finding ways to make the government more efficient—a practice which should become an investment. Systems like Lean Sigma can be taught and used throughout our departments. No matter the department in which you work, Justice, Defense, etc., one of your main jobs outside of your defined and unique role is to safeguard and wisely employ American resources.
     I know that these issues are contentious and I will not win many supporters by espousing these views. That is why they are known as the “third rail of politics”—to touch these issues is political death, so they are left to fester by today’s politicians. This is not likely to change without either a change to the way congress does business (like term limits), or the way people vote (like sacrificing short-term gains for the long-term benefit for both themselves and country). These are separate issues which I will not address in this post, but hope to tackle later. The next post, however, will be a discussion of Federal income, ranging from how to simplify and Constitutionalize the current tax code to which taxes and income sources best support individual liberty while providing government with a reasonable amount of income.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Issues 6: America's Most Dire Problem--The Budget

     The most pressing single problem that America faces today is its unbalanced budget replete with soaring spending, pitiful tax structure, and habit of kicking the problem down the road in favor of political expedience now. The budget for 2010 totaled $3.55 trillion dollars, while the CBO estimates that the average deficit for each year between 2009 and 2012 will be $1.21 trillion. I am not a national budget guru, but I believe that means that less than 2/3 of the US government expenditures are being accounted for in some sort of revenue. This sort of fiscal irresponsibility on an individual level is a large part of why so many people were hurt by the recession, and on a national level is dangerous and unsustainable. One need only look to our European neighbors to see the dangers of writing checks you can’t cash.
     This is a large and complex issue; in order to keep the posts manageable I will break this particular discussion into three parts. The first will discuss the theory of government spending and the budget as we know it. The second will be analysis and suggestions for solutions from the spending side and the third will do the same from the revenue side.
     Consider the following example: a country has 100 citizens, each making $100 per year through private efforts. With no government, each citizen keeps that $100 and has a commensurate quality of life. As discussed in earlier Foundations, government is necessary and has purpose, so this country creates a small government. One man constitutes the government and gives up his job to do so. In exchange, his efforts are supported by each citizen being taxed an amount to create an equity between private and government quality of life. Now there are 99 people working, making $100 per year, and being taxed $1 each. This means they take home $99 per year, and the government makes $99 per year. The effect is minimal, but there is a government.
     Now, consider a larger government. In this new example, 50 people work for the government. The remaining citizens still make $100 per year, but are taxed 50% to pay for the government. Now, each privately employed citizen takes home $50 per year and each member of the government makes $50 per year.
     Although the latter example is extreme, it is intended merely to provide a point, that being that the same country will have a lower standard of living and productivity as the size of government increases. This is the part that is unsustainable and that is leading to problems around the world. A country can support a small and necessary government without much inconvenience, but as the elephant in the room gets larger, eventually someone must notice.
     So how does the US budget actually break down? It is easy to get mad at congress and blame things like pork and bailouts, but looking at a budget breakdown is incredibly revealing. The five expenses that account for 75% of the budget are, in order:

     1) Social Security (19.63% - $696.8B)
     2) DoD (18.74% - $665.2B)
     3) Unemployment/Welfare (16.13% - $572.6B)
     4) Medicare (12.79% - $454.0B)
     5) Medicaid/State CHIP (8.19% - $290.7B)

     The other quarter of the budget, roughly $871B, is split among 26 other categories, to include everything that makes the government actually work. With only 66% of the budget actually paid for, congress could, under the current structure, cut the entire Federal Government with the exception of these entitlements and still not be able to afford to keep them running. So much for using a scalpel.
     Many solutions for dealing with this problem are politically charged and may mean political suicide to the person who tackles them. This is one reason the problem is proliferating. However, there is a first step that is applicable to any specific implementation and also politically palatable: Congress should pass a law stating loosely that in no period (say, 2 years) could expenditures be greater than income, except in a time of declared war or declared national emergency. If these exceptions are used to create a debt, that debt must be paid off in 3-5 years (or some other reasonably stated time) per year that debt was incurred (for instance, a deficit is run for 3 years for a war, it must be paid off in 9-15 years).
     This type of legislation would force Congress to answer some of the difficult questions that they choose to ignore for short-term political gain. It would circumvent the direct need to cut popular programs and instead allow Congress a freedom of action on how to implement a balanced budget subject to the wishes of their constituents. If Congress needed to raise taxes in order to cover temporary paydowns, it is important that these taxes be denoted as temporary and tied to a particular deficit that would cause them to automatically expire once that debt was completely paid down.
     While I think that this first step is both universal and essential, there are many specifics that still need solutions. The next discussion will focus on solutions for the expenditures side of the house and discuss not just what and how much to cut, but how to proceed honorably and continue to meet all commitments into which we as a government have already entered. Following that, I will make suggestions for income based not only on following the letter of the Constitution, but also respecting what it tried to create. The President mentioned his desire for a simplified tax code in his State of the Union Address, and I will include my vision for how that can be accomplished within the principles of Liberty. I hope that many of you comment on these entries and we can enter into an intelligent, rational discussion with sights set on solutions to problems.