I expected to be on a short break this summer, but given our current national conversations, I have to write just a few words about how we can fix three very big issues with three very simple steps.
Problem #1: A crush of mostly Latin American illegal immigrants, splitting up their families, trekking long, dangerous distances, and paying gang-related criminals to deposit them into the arms of our Border Patrol, which will then in all likelihood feed, clothe and house them, all at enormous cost to taxpayers and to the integrity of our country. And meanwhile our own cities are overrun with violent crime, much of it gang and drug related.
The Solution: End the War on Drugs. If there is a raging gas fire, you can try to put it out by spraying it, covering it, or removing it, or you can simply cut off the gas, the fuel that feeds it. The fuel to this fire is our own self-inflicted mistake, the War on Drugs.
As I and many much smarter people have written for years, the War on Drugs is not only a terrible waste of money, people and other critical resources, but, much worse, it destroys neighborhoods, promotes corruption, increases gun violence, funds the worst international and local gangs,decimates Latin American nations, and drives people to seek refuge here. Please see these two earlier posts for starters: The Best One Thing We Can Do Right Now and The War on Drugs Causes Insanity.
Co-Presidents Biden and Harris: You don’t have to go to the border or to Latin America to fix this. Just stay in D.C. and Defund/Stop the War on Drugs. Make drugs legal and tax them, like alcohol. This week. Within a few months the healing will be clear. Learn from the earlier disaster of Prohibition. And then, without all the current pressure, rhetoric and violence, pass real Immigration Reform. You can do it.
Problem #2: A Congress that is not only divided, as it has always been, but is now divided-to-the-death. “I’m right and if I even imagine some sort of compromise, I’ll be driven from office.” So nothing remotely helpful or appealing to most of us is ever enacted.
The Solution: Return to simple, geographically defined Congressional Districts, using all or logical parts of counties, based on location and population, not on race, income, prior voting records, etc. The current Gerrymandered Congress, created by both parties when they are in control at the state level, is the terrible unintended consequence of Affirmative Action. See Destruction By Identity.
Today, 90% of Congressmen and women are from “safe” districts of one political persuasion or the other, which means that they better toe the line with the ideology of their district’s artificial majority of voters, or they’ll be out. If instead they had to appeal to a mixed-bag of local voters who happen to live in a particular county or group of counties, politicians would have to learn how to compromise to find viable middle ground solutions as a condition for being elected in the first place. What a great skill to have upon arriving in Washington to serve the nation as a whole!
Problem #3: Our income tax system is a nonsensical mess. It’s almost impossible to understand, and rigged to help those with the power and resources to pass laws in their favor. High tax rates reduce hard work and investment. And loop-holes create low-tax gifts for the well-off, further increasing the disparity in our national wealth.
The Solution: Get rid of it ALL and replace it with a simple Federal flat tax of 15% on ALL income of ALL types, above a family minimum base level, with no exceptions, write-offs, or loopholes. You may then make money legally however you choose, and keep 85% of it. But EVERYONE, above that annual minimum family level, pays their 15%, whether the income is from a job, investment, capital gains, inheritance—no matter. Just pay your 15% on a simple form and enjoy the other 85% however you like.
Good-bye to most of the IRS bureacracy and the huge Tax Avoidance Consultant Business. The stimulus to economic growth from a flat tax, as experienced in other countries which have adopted it, makes setting the just-right rate difficult to peg before the fact. So let’s try 15% for, say, three years, see how much the economy grows, and how much tax revenue comes in, and then be willing to adjust it. Who knows, we might even move closer to a much-needed Balanced Budget, as a Two-fer.
So these are three summertime, simple solutions for our policy makers which would almost instantly move our nation to a better future. If you are opposed to any of them, I have to ask: Do you really think these solutions will make our situation worse? Let’s try simple and cheap for a change, instead of complicated and expensive. What do we have to lose?