Ink Paper Words' Profile

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Pacific Northwest, United States
In elementary school, I desperately wanted my mother to order books for me from those flyers Scholastic hands out to kids. She refused, citing the "perfectly good library down the street." I exacted revenge by becoming a card-carrying ALA accredited reference librarian. Ha! Take that!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The IPW Plan to Balance the US Budget

Why do we allow those jokers in DC to take on something so important? It's obvious that their interests benefit themselves and their corporate owners and NOT the electorate who gave them their jobs.

I am in no way an economist or politician. I am, however, a person who has learned to make do with little. One thing about librarians: we are so cheap we even recycle scrap paper. Frankly, I think we as a profession have those on The Hill beat all to hell when it comes to frugality and responsible stewardship of public funds.

So, without further ado, here is the IPW Plan to Balance the US Federal Budget!

  • Institute a flat tax rate. Remove loopholes so that corporations and businesses don't have to recruit a team of lawyers and accountants to weasel out of paying their fair share. And to the canard that business has to pay fewer taxes to enable job creation, I say BS. The 10 years of Bush tax cuts, which our obviously sold-out government voted to continue (!) not only did not create jobs, but also led to the highest unemployment rates since The Great Depression. A rational person would realize it didn't work and now it's time to try something different. This part of The Plan has the added benefit of reducing the size of the IRS. A flat rate will be easier to administer because the tax code itself will be less arcane. No need to worry about finding some obscure form -- there will only be one. Since the tax code will be less complex, fewer auditors will be needed to ensure compliance.
  • While we are talking about flat rates, another area to address is in cuts to the budget itself. Don't pare away only the agencies that provide services to the poor and elderly; make them even across the board. Perhaps if we weren't busy sending our military to kill people in oil- (and opium) rich countries, there wouldn't be any need to regard the military budget as sacrosanct. That will benefit our foreign policy in that mebbe, just mebbe, the rest of the world won't hate us so much.
  • Stop all immigration. Yes, I know, this sounds odd coming from someone with many friends who are either naturalized citizens or resident aliens, but let's face it. More people + fewer jobs = higher unemployment. Now, math was never my strong suit, but this seems fairly obvious to even a second grader. I also question why I visit  the social security or employment office and am served by people with obvious foreign accents.  Many state and federal agencies indicate Veteran status as a preference. In the same vein, then, why doesn't the hiring process for all federal jobs specify US Citizenship as a preference rather than merely asking about it on the EOCC form? I'm not saying that anyone already here should be deported; just close the gate.  This would lessen the burden on INS and free up resources for border patrol.
  • Offer tax credits to businesses who reverse/stop outsourcing. There is only one reason jobs are sent overseas and that is money. Money is the only incentive that will either keep jobs here or bring them back. I worked in technical support for AOL several years before they closed the Albuquerque call center (employing 1200 people) in favor of outsourcing those jobs to India. I believe the call center in Oklahoma City was closed as well. No idea how many jobs might have been lost with that closure.
  • The next point is possibly the most radical of all and frankly I am amazed that no one has uttered a word of it yet: remove the tax exemption for churches. They are not as altruistic as they seem on the surface; a person seeking aid frequently must first listen to the church's conversion spiel. Clearly the intent is to gain converts more than to feed or clothe the poor and with the exemption, the US government is indirectly promoting it. I say The Fed needs to get completely out of the religion bidness. Or is that whole “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion” just so much lip service?
  • Remove agricultural subsidies. They are nothing more than corporate welfare. I know it's very popular right now to demonize poor people, but corporations with their mouths at the public teat are either ignored or rationalized away in some hardscrabble Dustbowl Farmer John fantasy.
  • Legalize marijuana and tax it. Pot is, in fact, the single largest cash crop in the country and much is already being grown on federal lands. Legalize it, tax and regulate it. Prohibition for alcohol (a much more dangerous substance, IMO) didn't work, and prohibition on weed won't, either. Think of the law enforcement and jail resources freed up as a result. Think of the income generated. Yes, of course, some crime will still occur, but despite alcohol being legal and regulated, DUI's and liquor store robberies continue.
  • Use open source software. My god, how many millions does the government hand over to Microsoft for operating systems buggier than a swarm of locusts? In my experience, there is little difference for the casual end user between a Linux and Windows interface. IT staff would certainly appreciate the change because rank and file employees could no longer “customize” their systems, the likelihood of downloading virii will decrease and their jobs overall will be much simpler. Plus they won't be shelling out millions to one specific company with ridiculous restrictions on its user licenses. My system runs free SuSE Linux and OpenOffice. I just bought a new computer for my son (who can't seem to think outside the Windows box) and spent nearly $200 just for Windows. And that's just for 1 system. Multiply that by the number of computers used by the federal government and you get...some really big number (hey, I did say that I'm not much on math).
  • Perhaps the most obvious solution of all is to establish and maintain ethical and efficiency standards for each agency.
There, wasn't that easy? It didn't take months of bickering or threatening anyone's reproductive choices to dream this plan up. It's fair across the board and actually reduces the size of more than one agency. If I can come up with a simple plan like this, why is it that our 600+ representatives making $174k annually cannot?

Bueller? Bueller?