U. S. Economic Policy
James Adrian

      The citizens of the United States of America have soundly rejected fascism, oligarchy, theocracy, dictatorship, anarchy, and monarchy ever since the country was founded. The United States has always been a Representative Democracy, and it has historically supported free markets; but particularly since the Great Depression of the 1930's, American tax payers have funded government activities which were previously left to the private sector (individuals, businesses, charities and other non-governmental organizations). There is an ongoing argument between those who approve of these government services (liberals, progressives, or the Left) and those who do not (conservatives or the Right). These adversaries nonetheless agree that there has long been much corruption and criminality in government and business. They also seem to agree that a tax payer funded safety net should exist for the poor and the disabled.

      People on the two sides of this argument see things very differently. Those who believe in more government services than were originally contemplated tend to see business as a force in need of containment, while those who believe in a limited federal government tend to fear that additional government services may diminish incentives and intrude on the rights of the individual. Starting from those distinct views, they now advise very different economic policies. For many decades, the two camps have correctly accusing each other of some severe transgressions. Young people tend to identify with the beliefs held by their family and friends. Each side tends to regard the point of view of the other side as incomprehensible and wrong headed.

      If both sides were better informed, there would be virtually no chance that America could fall into communism, oligarchy or ruinous debt; and the risks of each is far from negligible. For this reason, both sides need to honestly think though again the concerns that they have so far discounted.

Effective Safety Net

      The Left has a sincere and heartfelt concern for the downtrodden that cannot be dismissed as a mere ploy to inspire more government control. On this point, the Left can obtain the trust of the Right by agreeing to phase out government payments to individuals who are not poor or disabled. The Right can gain the trust of the Left by agreeing to measures that would make abject poverty, homelessness, and hunger impossible while also providing medical care to the poor. Homelessness would disappear. Government assistance of all kinds to wealthy and middle-income households would also disappear. The transition need not be so sudden that it disrupts the plans of those who are nearing retirement or who are already retired. In an otherwise free-market economy, there is no question that taxpayers could afford to provide a fully effective safety net. We would no longer need to endure the shame of American city streets being occupied by people who cannot afford to live indoors.

Effective Enforcement

      If the chances of getting caught for corruption and crime are very low and the rewards are very high, there will be a lot of corruption and crime. Finger pointing across the great ideological divide is not helping the problem. The Right needs to understand that there are criminal business people and the Left needs to understand that government ownership of the means of production is not a cure. Free enterprise cannot be saved from communism for long without effective law enforcement concerning political and financial matters. Here is a particularly important book on the subject:

      Throw Them All Out

Two-Party Monopoly

      Every effort has been made to keep the political process under the control of the two major parties. Since at least the Great Depression, these two parties have cooperated to enact laws that keep the cost of getting on the ballot very high for other parties. This limits choice and it is an example of political corruption. These books explain the situation:

      The Tyranny of the Two-Party System

       Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny

Term Limits

      Politicians are likely to be slower than voters to support the Effective Safety Net policy because they often attempt to stay in office for many years, and thereby acquire motives that are not identical to those of their constituents. They learn to stay in office by promising benefits to voters. This creates huge debt and can only be remedied by term limits. If a politician does not want to interrupt his or her career to lend a hand in fixing the country's problems, but instead wants to make a career of high political office, the voters should not approve. If a public servant is inclined to spend 40 years in public service, it would be far better to spend those years in a variety of positions (local, state and federal) rather than attempting to spend 40 years in the Congress. This would be better for the country. You might consider assisting this cause through and organization committed to that purpose.

Campaign Financing

      The extreme cost of political campaigns has been a serious obstacle to the goal of having a Congress comprised mainly of citizen legislators who willingly go back to their private career after only a few years in office. Who would go to the trouble of becoming a public figure and raising millions of dollars to win a congressional election, only to quit that job many years before retirement? That's the kind of thing you might do as the mayor of a town of 2000 people. Incentives and expectations must be realistic. The cost in both effort and dollars of such a campaign is so high that very few indeed would leave office without a fight. The fact that the Congress has not passed a law that limits the number of terms an individual may occupy a given office cannot be much of a mystery. As a result of this high cost, our legislators are very often selected from people who are influential or wealthy at the outset. How much different would they be as a group if getting elected to an office was as merit-based and practicable as going to college for a semester or building a garage? The cost must be dramatically reduced and the process must be made far more open.

      TV, Cable TV, email, Internet websites and the latest generation of hand-held devices may help change elections considerably because advertising can pay for the broadcasting of debates and debates can be the basis for political campaigns.