I began these posts almost ten years ago in August, 2010. For the first several months I offered one or two policy recommendations under the title of 2020 Vision: How To Fix The Next Ten Years in Ten Steps.
With 2020 almost upon us, I thought it would be useful and even entertaining to revisit those ten thoughts. On re-reading them I conclude that they are certainly not perfect, but most still seem reasonable, largely not yet accomplished, and generally pointed in the right directions.
Several of them touch on issues debated in the 2016 election, and they are certainly at odds with most planks in what appears to be the upcoming Progressive Platform for 2020.
My focus for these ten years has been to encourage the re-weaving of our Christian faith back into all aspects of society and governmental policy. As I wrote in a recent post, while you can argue that ours is no longer a Christian nation, you cannot argue that it was not founded on Christian principles, and primarily on the sacredness of the individual and her or his freedom to make individual decisions with consequential outcomes–from choosing a Savior, or not, to choosing a career, a spouse, and electing those who will govern us by the consent of the governed.
Please enjoy one man’s imperfect recommendations from the start of the same decade which ends shortly. And then I’ve added a few from our experiences since then.
1. Set the corporate tax rate at 20%. Then, except to undo or reduce them, take an immediate holiday from any further business regulations or taxes for at least twenty-four months, to allow businesses to plan and implement job creation with relative certainty about the rules on the playing field for that period.
2. Above a floor of minimum untaxed income, set the personal income tax at 19% for families with children. The rate for singles and couples without children will be slightly higher. The tax will be the same on all forms of income, with no deductions for mortgages, charities, depreciation, etc. Those with high incomes will not be able to shelter their income, and everyone should have more money to spend. This will be the first step toward simplifying taxes and significantly reducing the IRS.
3. Secure the southern border within six months. Start by using significant manpower, and then reduce the numbers as the fence is completed and technology is added. Create a way for those who are already here illegally to have a path to citizenship which has reasonable costs for them and punishes those who knowingly hire new illegal arrivals. And then reform the system to encourage the best and the brightest to come to America.
4. For 2011, every branch and department of government at every level, except Defense, will have to get by on ten percent less, including salaries. Let the government’s skilled managers decide how to accomplish this reduction in each department at every level; it will likely be a learning experience for them.
5. Instead of “Cap and Trade”, in 2011 add a ten cent federal tax to each gallon of refined gasoline, and then increase that tax by five cents every year for the next twenty years. Use the funds to do energy research, to provide seed capital for viable alternatives, and to build other forms of mass transit.
6. Increase retirement ages and contributions for Social Security over the next five years so that the program is “fixed” for the foreseeable future, and no longer a source for political debate.
7. Within six months perform a cost-benefit analysis on every federal department which has been created in the last fifty years, like Education, Environmental Protection, etc. The goal should be to prove why the department’s budget should not be cut in 2012 by at least twenty-five percent, or eliminated entirely.
8. Repeal Obamacare, start over, and replace it with a grant for individuals and families to shop among healthcare providers, allowing the consumer to choose his or her plan but providing funds for everyone to be covered by a minimum comprehensive plan, if they choose to be.
9. Focus decisions for primary and secondary education back to the local level, and fund them in the same way as colleges and universities, with a mixture of direct local government funding, vouchers, grants from foundations and businesses, etc. Let decisions on expenditures, teacher retention, etc., be made by those closest to the students.
10. Enact term limits for the House and Senate of three consecutive terms, to eliminate the current tendency toward a permanent political class which is out of touch with the rest of the nation.
And now, here are a few new ones, taken from key posts of this decade:
11. The National Debt must be reduced. Both political parties used to at least give lip service to this goal, but now they just kick the can further down the road, ignoring the day of reckoning when $22+ trillion in debt and more-normal 5% interest rates result in $1 trillion a year of interest payments alone! Although not explicitly stated, Recommendations 4 and 7 above focus on specific steps we can take now to bring down spending, or at least stop its unchecked annual surge, while 1 and 2 focus on increasing growth and revenue.
12. End the War on Drugs. As I’ve argued for several years, it’s hard to imagine any national policy with so few benefits but with so many first, second and third degree costs, disruptions and tragedies. No one wants anyone to be addicted to drugs. But no one wants anyone to be addicted to alcohol, gambling, pornography or golf either. The difference is that the latter four are legal, so that we don’t compound the personal human tragedy with murder, theft, gangs, corruption and national destruction, as we do every day with drugs. Why we continue to enrich and empower so much evil is simply beyond me. Legalize, restrict, tax and treat drug addiction as a disease, just like we do with alcohol. Did we learn nothing from Prohibition?
13. China and Russia. Vladimir Putin is a thug. He and his cronies killed my friend and accountant, Sergey Magnitsky. I’m not an apologist for him or his regime. They can do great harm to individuals and nations. But in the biggest picture, Russia is at heart a European, historically Christian nation with great talent and resources, and people who are very much like us in their behavior and outlook. Some of them may elect to do wrong (as do we), but they at least understand the choice they are making. China, on the other hand, so long as the Communist Party remains in total control, elevates the State over the individual and demands conformity to the State’s goals, while not even considering right, wrong or truth. Their goal is to force their totalitarian system on the rest of us. See Hong Kong. As I have noted in earlier posts, we in the West must work diligently on many levels—in government, industry and the military—to contain all forms of Chinese aggression, while also doing our best to wean Russia from the influence of Putin and his ilk.
14. Abortion may no longer be a crime, but it is abhorrent to God, and should be abhorrent to every American. As recounted in several posts, killing a defenseless baby in her mother’s womb is about as evil as it gets. If you’re a secular Progressive and you like to put people into identity groups to show who are victims of personal or societal abuse, what group could be more victimized than the 105 babies an hour we’ve killed in America on average every hour of every day for the last 45 years? We should do everything in our power to make abortions difficult to obtain, while also ramping up every type of personal and economic support for unwed mothers, adoption services, families, child care, father role models, etc. Plus the genuine celebration of postponing sex until marriage, and easy access to birth control for those who don’t elect to do so.
Of course with all of these issues, concerns and opportunities, the most important reminder is the old truth that while we don’t know what the future holds, we know Who holds the future.
Those are my bigger picture thoughts as we head into the 2020’s. I hope you’ve enjoyed and perhaps even been challenged by some of my writing, either these posts at the intersection of Faith, Economics and Policy, or my novels. And I hope that He has at least one more novel for me to write, as well as a successful TV series for On The Edge, before He reassigns me. Please pray for His wisdom and guidance in all that we do.
Please feel free to add your Comment about any or all of the above points. I appreciate hearing from you, pro or con.
Finally, my family wishes you and your family all His great blessings, and all the best for 2020 and beyond.