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How to shrink the state

Authors note: The following essay was written as a school assignment about how to lower the deficit and start paying off the national debt, the policy ideas expressed do not represent the authors final vision for society but are simply some interim measures.

 

How to shrink the State

By R. Stempien

The government has created a way of life that is unsustainable. It has promised trillions of dollars that it does not have and has locked most of that into law. Fixing this would be incredibly hard and requires swift and sweeping changes. National Debt is basically money the government borrows and will force the taxpayers of future generations to pay off later. Deficits are money that the government spends but does not have per year. It is the amount added to the Debt per year.

The National Debt can be divided into two different sets of money owed, the first, is the 53 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare, and the 16 trillion official national debt that the United States government owes to many different creditors both foreign and domestic. The deficit is projected to be about $901 billion this year. We could shave $15 billion dollars by immediately legalizing all drugs, and the resulting loss of crime by moving the sale of drugs from the gangs into the legitimate market might also help save money, we should also pardon all non-violent drug offenders sitting in prison so money no longer is spent on them. We could also severely decrease the money spent on Defense by pulling all troops out of all foreign countries immediately. The money for defense can then be lowered by disbanding the Army and ceasing spending on purely offensive weapons like tanks. The Marine Corps and Navy can be consolidated down into one branch and then shrunk to where there is just enough men and equipment to guard the border. The air force can also be incredibly downsized and relegated solely to guarding American air space. Next, several departments can be privatized or out right abolished. The .F.D.I.C, the department of Education, the department of Homeland Security, and the department of Labor can be abolished. NASA could be privatized. We can keep cutting programs like this until the deficit is eliminated.

Now onto the unfunded liabilities. As much federal land and resources should be sold off as possible, including the White house, congressional building, and all the national parks. Basically everything but the infrastructure required to operate the much smaller military I talked about earlier. The money from selling all of this should be put into an account for retirees who are drawing or about to draw from social security and Medicare. The social security and Medicare provisions taken out of new workers paychecks should be stopped and these people should be able to put their money into private investment and savings account options. The rest of the 16 trillion dollar official debt should be repudiated, where basically the state just cancels the debt completely. This is the only moral way to get rid of the debt. We cannot force people to pay off the debt through taxation because the people that would be paying it off did not sign any contracts saying they would pay off the debt from the beginning. The national debt is in effect stealing from the unborn.

Now there are many potential downsides and worries to what I have proposed. There is the fear that without the federal government doing all these programs and funding things like education, that society would collapse or chaos would rule the day. This ignores the ability of the free market to adapt though. In the market there is a robust system of profit and loss, consumer reviews, boycotts, competition, and industry standards that allow a very efficient industry in any service or product possible, so most of the things that the federal government does if eliminated could be taken up by the market. Also, the states would still be around, and in fact would probably have a lot more freedom to do their own thing. So if people truly felt something abolished by the federal government should still be done by the government then they could set up a program in their state. Another downside is that the government would suffer lots of damage after repudiating the debt. The credit rating of the federal government would most likely tank completely, no one would want to lend to the government for a long time. This would not be so bad in my eyes though, because that would simply keep government spending in check. There would also be a lot of upset creditors though, especially ones from other countries, what I would say to these creditors though is that if they really wanted their money, they should go after the politicians who took out this debt in the first place, and get them to pay it out of their own pockets. Another downside is that doing all of this would be messy, some people will lose benefits they were promised, lots of government workers would lose their jobs, and some people would just fall through the cracks and not get help. The market, when freed because all the government spending is gone, would be able to adjust to create jobs for the unemployed government workers, so eventually that problem would be solved, but unfortunately, some people are just going to have to make sacrifices, some people will have to give up what they were promised, it is the price that has to be paid, for creating a large and unsustainable system.

We as a society have allowed things to become untenable. We have let a small government become an incredibly large and bloated institution and we have allowed it to commit to promises it cannot possibly deliver on. The best and most gradual solutions will still be painful and awful, because you cannot create a system like our government and expect it to last in the long term, and you cannot expect getting out of it to be easy.



Sources used for numbers:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/02/13/us/politics/2013-budget-proposal-graphic.html?_r=0

http://www.drugsense.org/cms/wodclock

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