A modest proposal

In yesterday’s comments, Spartacus has a novel, and very interesting, idea on how to restrain government spending.  I commend it to your reading and I suspect you will be intrigued by it.

I’ve been toying for years with a much simpler solution and I’d like your thoughts on it.   Our government (especially at the federal level, but this would also work at the state level and maybe even below that) should be bound by two simple constraints.

First, it can’t spend more than it takes in.  This one is obvious and should have been the rule all along.

Second, each year, before any decisions are made on taxing or spending, we (either by popular vote or by vote of our representatives) must establish what percentage of the gross national product we want to spend on our government at that level for that year.  Once this rule and this number are established the politicians can argue all they want about how to raise the money and what to spend it on, but they could spend only as much on government as we’ve chosen to spend and not a penny more. 

Granted there are some problems with this, not the least of which is the possibility of cheating in determining the GNP.  But it would result in one number that everyone could easily understand and that represented what part of our nation’s income we want to spend on our government.  Of course, if they wanted to the people could still choose to turn a high percentage of the nation’s income over to the government.  But my guess is that people would be shocked at what percentage the government controls now and would vote for a much lower precentage. 

Am I crazy or would something as simple as this actually help people understand what their government is doing and regain control over their government’s role in their lives?