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.

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.


ee_ga said...

For the first time I find myself taking issue with one of your posts. "Many retired people were promised Social Security, and have planned their lives around this government support." These people are taking out more than they ever put in, including interest, that is theft. Not only that but the money was already spent before they began taking it out. It is the equivalent of borrowing from your 401K to cover y expenses on x income your entire life and expecting your 401K to payout again. There is nothing honest about that.

During the '70s there was a presidential candidate that wanted to leave social security alone for those currently receiving payments and privatize the accounts for those currently paying in. He lost by a landslide.

Live Free said...

Apparently I had a lapse in my attention; I apologize for not commenting sooner. I was under the impression that the payout of Social Security was never meant to exactly equal what one puts in. I agree that it is theft and couldn't agree more with your sentiments. What I don't agree with is that we can use that excuse to not honor a deal that we (as citizens and voters) made. It would be like taking out a bad loan with high interest, realizing later that it is theft, and trying to back out because you got smarter. I can't stand what is being done, but I also don't want to see the government continue to fail to live up to promises. For that reason alone I would ride out the current commitments without making new.

The Heathen Republican said...

"Social Security, Unemployment/Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid should be done away with at the federal level"

Ideologically I agree, but pragmatically, we have an established social safety net. I think a realistic solution is to make the programs self-sustaining, like a university endowment.