If I was king of the United States — by guest blogger Danny Lemieux

Most if not all of us that follow and participate in the Bookworm Room agree that our country is in very serious trouble. Most of us would also agree that government is a cesspool of profligate waste.

So, I would like to position us as solution providers. Can we put our heads together and, assuming that we were elected Kings and could rule by legislative fiat, determine what we would do in order to bring government spending down to manageable levels? Can we come up with ideas that would really make a difference?

Here is one proposed solution to get things started:

The Dept. of Energy (DOE) was created in 1977 to bring America to energy independence. With a budget of approximately $25 billion per year, I think that after 33 years we can say that it is a demonstrable failure. Solution: eliminate the DOE and allocate necessary research projects into military, National Science Foundation and other organizations as necessary.

More ideas?

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  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    I would immediately lower tax rates significantly.  Also, if I had any understanding of finances, business systems, accounting, etc., I would dramatically simplify the tax code.  My dream tax code would max out at about ten pages long.

  • jj

    Why stop with the Department of Energy?  The precise same paragraph can apply to the Department of Education.  Maybe the numbers would be different, and maybe Education was started a year or two later, but otherwise it’s word-for-word the same demonstrable failure.
     
    In fact we could do American history a great favor – pay it forward – by simply eliminating Jimmy Carter from the history books altogether.  It’s past time for him to become an unperson.

  • kali

    I don’t know how true this factoid is, and I don’t care, it sounds right: the government’s agricultural policies add 25% to the average grocery bill.
     
    So free one crop after another from government control, doing it in a slow, staged manner to give farmers a chance to adjust, until the entire Dept of Agriculture can be abolished. Regulations for a wholesome food supply can be devolved to the state level, where there’s more likely to be people who understand the subject anyway.
     
    Unleash the farmers and feed the poor!

  • kali

    And oh yes, take one law per legislative session _off_ the lawbooks.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Wow…this post is barely up and, from what I can determine, we have already “saved” the American taxpayer well over $100 billion per annum (I believe the annual Dept. of Education..another Jimmy Carter program… budget is close to $70 billion, $70b  for, which I agree, is a total failure).
    Eliminate agricultural subsidies…great idea. According to Wikipedia, eliminating farm subsidies would add another $16b to the tally.
     
    Keep it rolling in, folks.

  • Danny Lemieux

    If we had a flat tax code, could we reduce the IRS by half?
     

  • nathan

    Some interesting ideas from Paul Ryan in this recent George Will column:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/GeorgeWill/2010/02/07/charting_our_way_to_solvency?page=full&comments=true
    Paul Ryan is one of the few politicians who is able to ask intelligent questions when Ben Bernanke testifies before Congress.  When the history of our era is written, somebody will write a book called “The Best and The Brightest in the Age of Obama: How Government Leaders Who Were So Smart Enacted Policies That Were So Stupid”.  It should come as no surprise that Ryan does not have Ivy League degrees.  He has a BA in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio and no graduate degree.

  • Libby

    No earmarks and no funding for anything that will be named after a sitting congressman (bridges, roads, post offices, etc.).  Even if this  is just low-hanging fruit, I”m for anything that makes it harder for Congress to lard up a bill with useless expenditures and vanity projects. Also, no more private jet for the Speaker of the House.

  • Libby

    Forgot one: Reduce the number of days Congress is in session, and limit the number of days spent residing in DC. Maybe they could spend the extra time back in their home state and less time in DC thinking up new ways to spend money and complicate our lives. The way it is now, congressmen who have held a seat for 10+ years are really DC resident whose families and social lives are based there instead of their home state. So they spend much more of their time with other government employees, lobbyists, govt contractors, local media, etc.  Their spouses and children usually end up on the government payroll or work in a related field (again, lobbyists, special interests, media, contractors). And more often than not, they end up taking a job in DC after they leave office. It’s no wonder they’re out of touch with the rest of the country.

  • Charles Martel

    1. Forbid Congress to meet for more than 3 months in any given year. Mandate that members of Congress must reside in their home districts the remainder of the time (2-week vacations and weekends excepted) and must hold public meetings every 14 days.

    2. Forbid Congresspeople to use military or government aircraft for travel. Solicit airlines to offer a discounted group coach class rate for Congresspeople.

    3. Institute age discrimination and forbid Congresspeople to hire interns under the age of 35.

    4. Move all print media reporters at the White House to the back of the bus, with Helen Thomas and the NYT occupying the rearmost chairs. Replace the Whore Media reps in the front rows with bloggers of all political stripes. Have one chair reserved for a “revolving blogger” who is chosen at random to cover one press conference and ask the opening question.

    5. Get the gutless U.S. Roman Catholic hierarchy to excommunicate every federal pol who claims to be an observant Catholic yet supports abortion on demand or federal funding thereof.

    6. What jj and Danny said: Eliminate departments of Energy and Education, and agricultural subsidies.
    I’d also eliminate HUD. I’m not sure what purpose it serves to have the federal government involved in the housing market or city planning.

    7. Phase out Social Security by the year 2030. Admit that it was a giant Ponzi scheme that FDR figured people would wake up to by the year 1990 and change. Invite a national debate on its replacement. See No. 1 above.

    8. Sever all government support of and reliance on NGOs like ACORN and Planned Parenthood.

    9. Forbid federal resuscitations of companies or industries “too big to fail.” Start pulling some plugs.

    10. Begin deporting illegal aliens. Start with the ones in our jails.

  • SADIE

    Freddie, Fannie and Barney Fwank to be deported [see: No. 10 above]

  • Charles Martel

    SADIE, LOL!

  • SADIE

    5. Move Congress to Alaska. They don’t show up for work when it snows. [see: No. 1 above]
    The attached article (2006) found extra payments totaling $5.2 billion.
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/57833.php
    4. How about a couple of hundred bookkeepers and CPA’s.
    To encourage steadfastness, a finders fee (to be determined) will be paid to those that uncover waste. Monies not returned will be deducted from salary/benefits paid to law makers.
    3 . No more than 40% of production, industry, you name it can be outsourced.
    2 . Forbid the advertising of pharmaceuticals, which adds a hefty price tag.
    and my No. 1 pick would have to be 22% of the UN budget.
     

  • suek

    All laws expire after 7 years and have to be completely rewritten.
     
    (I want to keep the Ag subsidies, but I don’t disagree with really going over them with a fine tooth comb.  If you don’t keep your farmers in business in some of the really bad years and they go into some other business, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.  Farming takes skills that you can’t teach in college…)

  • SADIE

    oops, we’ve missed one ‘crib notes’ – the graph is priceless (well, actually pricey) http://pajamasmedia.com/zombie/2010/02/10/crib-notes-technology-cost-analysis/

  • suek
  • http://gregorys-rantsite.blogspot.com gkong3

    1. Flat income tax bracket of 10% on anybody earning above poverty line (income *below* poverty line exempted from tax for everyone). Same tax rates for all taxpayers; people, partnerships, incorporated entities, NGOs, everyone. Tax exemptions for charities and religious organisations can be maintained. No other deductions or special tax codes – you earn it, you get hit with 10%. Capital gains to be taxed once realised and adjusted for inflation.
    2. Taxation powers beyond that of (1) to be expressedly sunsetted every year, and requires supermajority of both houses, otherwise an automatic Presidential veto (even if President is in favour).
    3. Abolish DCS. Government interference in families is unconscionable anyways.
    4. Get rid of the EPA.
    5. Unemployment benefits for 6 months, after that, you’re on your own. Claimable only once every 3 years.
    6. All govt bennies to be provided only to prior citizen and ‘green card’ holding taxpayers.

  • Deana

    Too bad we can’t institute an oligarchy – we’d be excellent rulers!
     
    I also would love to see the tax code simplified to the point that your average eighth-grader could read it and compute someone’s taxes.
     
    I also propose that if you are receiving public aid, you lose your right to vote (unless, of course, you truly cannot take care of yourself – I do believe we have a duty to take care of others, but there is a limit!)
     
    One MUST produce a valid driver’s license and passport or birth certificate to vote.
     
    In order to serve in Congress or as President, you MUST have private sector experience (and hopefully, success).
     
    Wow.  This could go on and on!
     
    Deana
     
     

  • Mike Devx

    Only two things:
    1. A spending freeze until the national debt is half of what is now compared to the GDP.  (This would likely take a minimum of a decade of such a spending freeze.  More likely two decades.  But responsible adults – meaning, conservatives – are willing to take the long view.  Long term results, fiscal sanity slowly returning, and economic health.  There are no quick fixes to forty years of slowly sliding into this mess.)
    2. Entitlements reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  George Will had an interesting column about a proposal (by was it Jim Ryan?) that could be a very good starting point.  Without entitlements reform, most other efforts are totally meaningless.  (The debt numbers on entitlements are THAT hopeless right now.)

  • Al

    Absolutely abolish the EPA. Also abolish all laws based on the myth of AGW. And then encourage drilling for oil on and off shore.
    Flat tax. Flat tax. Flat tax. It’s what turned the Baltic States around after the USSR colapsed.
    Al

  • Danny Lemieux

    Interesting idea about a spending freeze, MikeD. I bet that government could probably mandate a 10% reduction in administrative costs on all programs without sacrificing much.
    To Al’s point, given the proven reserves of oi, gas and coal in the U.S., we could probably mandate that the U.S. permits production of all of our domestic needs from U.S. reserves, resulting in additional tax revenues and jobs, not to mention helping to balance our trade deficit.
     

  • colorless.blue.ideas

    Some good suggestions.  Just a note on financial numbers.  Eliminating the Department of Energy would not eliminate all the costs associated with it.  For example, a significant amount of military-related work goes on within the DoE — not just nuclear weapons and naval nuclear propulsion, but much work related to weapons in general.   Whether or not these should be more under the Dept. of Defense is a valid question, but it is also one with no clear answer.

  • suek

    >>Eliminating the Department of Energy would not eliminate all the costs associated with it.  >>
     
    There are always problems…
     
    I have a problem with two above issues…flat tax and poverty level.
     
    Flat tax – how do you cope with the under-the-table tax avoidance issue?
    Poverty level – I’d like to see this defined in some specific terms that I haven’t figured out yet.  Reason for that is that the poverty level seems to continuously escalate.  I remember some farm folks from my teen years that didn’t have inside plumbing, but didn’t consider themselves impoverished.  Some folks today consider themselves below the poverty level if they don’t have cable television.  Somehow I think that some standards of living need to be defined, and that should then be dollar-defined.  Maybe they do that already, but if so, I’ve never seen anything about it.  I have no idea how they determine the poverty level.  Maybe the annual income level at minimum pay,  assuming full employment?  And of course, minimum pay could be sustainable as a living wage in some areas of the country, and absolutely unsustainable in others.

  • Caped Crusader

    For heavens sake — start with the Department of Education  and eliminate it entirely along with abolishment of ALL Schools of Education, which are a travesty and cruel joke. It has evolved that the poorest students congregate therein. You don’t have to know a damn thing as long as you “KNOW HOW TO TEACH”. Require that all teachers have a degree in real academic subjects and hire only the best and do not insult them with less than a six figure salary after they have proven their worth. Teaching is a God given passion and talent and anyone who has ever encountered a great teacher knows this is true. Allow only students wish to learn access to the teachers and divert the troublemakers and those who have no passion for learning to other programs.

  • jj

    And re-institute the damn draft!  Give the little buggers something to do other than join a gang for a couple of years while their brains (hopefully) mature a bit.  I have never seen so many aimless 18 and 19 year old kids, a phenomenon that virtually didn’t exist in my own youth.  We knew exactly what we were doing and where we going at 18, or post-college, or post grad school, for those of us that indulged in college and grad school.
     
    This benefits both the society and the kids.  it keeps the military fully staffed, it reinforces the idea that there are responsibilities that go along with all those American rights, and it’s a quick route to maturity.  (I can’t tell you how many loud-mouthed jackasses I knew when young who emerged from their term of service as quiet, thoughtful, no better word than mature; young adults.  And I suspect everybody my age or older could say the same.)
     
    And government workers – you no longer get to unionize.  You can keep the great medical insurance and a part of the current retirement, but you don’t as a class make more than people in the private sector: they drive the economy, you leach off it: they’re ipso facto worth more than you are.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    JJ:

    Is it really fair to foist a generation of useless, unfocused slackers on the military?  I know that the professional military dreads a draft for precisely that reason.

    Years ago, when I first started blogging, I suggested the many societal virtues that would flow from a draft.  My list was pretty similar to yours.  So the draft — good for kids; bad (medium bad?) for the military.

    But be of good cheer:  Obama wants to draft your kids into a socialist citizens’ army, remaking the world.  I understand that they’re thinking of a lovely mahogany color for the uniforms, maybe with slightly lighter shirts in the same shade….

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  • suek

    jj…
     
    My husband have had this discussion often – I see the same benefits as you do.  Plus the fact that I think every citizen owes some period of service to their country.  Nowadays, I’ll add that it also provides the opportunity to teach young people the _real_ history of their country instead of the socialist pap they feed them in public schools.  My husband comes back with “the military is _not_ a social service” and that always ends the conversation – because he’s right.  And if you _did_ institute a branch of “para-military” or “pre-military” that was mandated, you can bet that the coddlers would soon seek to eliminate anything that even smacked of political incorrectness, or which was physically or psychologically demanding.  If it wasn’t _real_ military – which is about the only place in the government the Left hasn’t been able to affect deeply (yet)*, then they’d reach in and destroy the intent _you_  – and I – might have and turn it into Obama’s ideal…the socialist citizen’s army that Book mentions.  Look at Venezuela and Chavez.
     
    *well…ok.  The left has managed to inculcate the military with political correctness to a limited extent.  Starting with race issues, then moving on to the muslim issue, and now the homosexual thing.  But it has been much slower than the Left would like, and much less radical than they would prefer.  Although the muslim thing _really_ bothers me…

  • jj

    I admit to being a little older than you, Miss B. – you think we didn’t have slackers aplenty in my generation, too?  You bet we did!  Somehow or other the military sorted them out.  They were never allowed to touch anything that required attention by motivated, professional soldiers, but there was still plenty for them to do.
     
    And the interesting thing was to watch how many of them eventually began growing into and taking over jobs the professionals didn’t let them near when they first arrived.  The slacker attitudes did evolve.  Keep the motivated professional kids at the tip of the spear, no question – but it’s amazing how many of the previously-useless will join them there after twelve months in.  It does work a fundamental attitude adjustment, it really does.  And we wouldn’t have kids working on their fifth deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.  Right now we’re running our professional, motivated kids into the ground – a draft would spread that load a little more evenly.
     
    And the professionals on top who run the military and dread the draft are like anybody else: they have their own fiefdoms to protect.  Their control will of necessity be weakened with the annual arrival of half a million more kids, and (the biggest issue) their budgets will of necessity be scrutinized more closely – which is their real problem with it.  We have very nearly as many generals and admirals now as we did with a military five times the size of the present one.  What the hell are they all doing?  Carving out and protecting fiefdoms.  How many of them actually fight?  Damn few, is the answer to that one.  (I have to look this up and see if it’s true, but I have heard that right now, as of even date, the Navy is very nearly at the point where there’s an Admiral for every 3 combat ships, including submarines.  Admirals are supposed to make and implement strategy, and lead fleets and battle groups.  We have 12 carrier battle groups, they slide in and out of half a dozen fleets.  What are we doing with 100 Admirals?)
     
    They’re very comfortable over at the Pentagon, they don’t want anything changed any more than anyone else who’s very comfortable does.  But they’d manage.
     
     

  • suek

    >>We have very nearly as many generals and admirals now as we did with a military five times the size of the present one.>>
     
    Really?  I can understand that from certain viewpoints…replace those who leave the service etc. …but you’re right – that’s ridiculous.

  • jj

    Did a quick check – I regret to say it’s worse than I thought.  There are 280 combat ships in the navy right now, and 216 Admirals.  Which means about 190 of them are doing… what?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    <B>The slacker attitudes did evolve.</b>
     
     
    The Left doesn’t allow people to evolve.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Priority List:
     
    Get rid of Congress’ power of the purse for about 50 some odd years. Reinvest this into a Constitutional amendment that secures the right of people to control how much of their taxes go into specific programs or segments of the government’s various budgets. The amount of taxation is still controlled by Congress, but it will be up against both the right and capability of the people to decide for themselves. The amount of money going into the IRS can then be re-directed to keep a profile, accessible from both ends, as to who paid what, when, and what did they decide to pay their taxes for. This is all easily cataloged and archived electronically and via websites. The same security issues with debit/credit cards is easily transfered here, with minimum economic disruption.
     
    This kills off the vine every government program, from here on to perpetuity, that is done in the shadows or benefits lobbyists or ACORn or Planned Parenthood, etc. The Founding Fathers never implemented this because technology was such that it was impossible. Also the education and access of the common man or woman, weren’t up to a high enough standard to dictate where money should be spent. At the time, remember, the franchise was still limited to white land owners, neither women or blacks applied.
     
    Number 2. Purge the federal bureaucracy.
    Number 3. Take back the public perception concerning foreign military expenditures. Currently, the idea that a lot of money and blood is spent overseas isn’t connected to the very high standards the US military has shown in Katrina or Haiti. Connect these two elements in the people’s mind, forcibly if necessary, and disregard any complaint or hesitation. It is only because such things are spent overseas in wars, that the US military doesn’t behave like a pack of looters, aka UN Afrikan Peacekeepers.
    Number 4. Institute professional standards for the bureaucracy. Eliminate promotion based upon favoritism, deal making, or internal department budget controls. Instead, set up an separate and totally self-sufficient institution to administer promotions in bureaucracy, including firing and allocation of human resources. Children and students have to take tests to get into higher institutions. It’s about time the bureaucrats started being bound by common, not Ivy League, standards.
    Number 5. Complete a program that converts most of federal aid to “victim classes” into a different form of aid. The aid of giving people the resources and knowledge to freely move between states and areas, including leave bad areas for good ones and leaving good ones to conquer bad areas. If a private citizen has set up a group to take back the inner city of Los Angeles, the federal government shouldn’t regulate things, it should just aid the people and then step back. This will allow different states to aggregate like minded people, while not imprisoning those that would prefer to live someplace else. Currently businesses and those with funds can move, because they have resources. Most Americans are middle class, rooted to economic jobs, or are ghetto poor, rooted in unsafe neighborhoods surrounded by gangs, corruption, and Democrat government slavery.
     
     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    The question isn’t whether humans are slackers or whether the military can reform them. The question is how you are gong to prevent the Left from gaining control of the military. If you can’t prevent that, then it doesn’t matter if the military can make traps out of ball and twine. They will be forbidden to use them against the enemy and forbidden to aid the American people.

  • http://gregorys-rantsite.blogspot.com gkong3

    As for the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the universal draft… while the cultures (and circumstances) are obviously miles apart, have a look at Israel and Singapore.
    I would not suggest for a moment that the results will be the same in the USA, nor do I want to live in a country where *I* would be drafted, but to simply call the draft a daft idea is not quite accurate. Certainly not where Singapore is concerned, because it’s (a) accepted by the general public and (b) makes them far superior to their larger neighbour (Malaysia) and (c) a part of their culture All SG males pretty much are military or ex-military, and they all seem to share the same bond (first question out of their mouths is “which brigade/regiment/platoon/squad/DI?”).
    Of course, SG is an autocratic government, but still.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    This thread is pretty funny and ironic ,Danny. It was just 2 years back or so.

    I do have to say, probably nobody will want me as King of the US, in any shape whatsoever. And they will have good reason to believe that.