Here’s how to raise taxes and still make everyone who pays taxes happy:
For every dollar the Government raises our taxes, they must cut $4 from the Federal budget. Raise my taxes $1500 to pay for some asinine project? No problem! I get to cut $6000 from some other asinine project. Because here’s the thing: The fifty percent of us who pay taxes? We get to decide where the cuts come from.
There is no technological reason why, at a high-enough level of abstraction (e.g., the Transportation Safety Agency, the E.P.A.) Federal spending allocations could not be set directly by the taxpayers. None. All US currency is ephemera anyway; shuttling it into particular accounts is the type of challenge that small, smart start-ups solve all the time. It is a very manageable problem.*
So when I file my tax return, I have a list of agencies that I can allocate a percentage of taxes to. For example, I may decide I want 10% of my tax dollars to go to the military, 50% to education, and the rest to whichever Bureau or Agency is responsible for taking care of the elderly and the sick. And through the everyday miracle of very large databases and very fast servers, that money would find its way into the budget of that agency. Of course, you’d have to set aside a certain percentage for administrative costs; that would be voted on annually, but could never exceed, say, 10%. You could add another 10% for infrastructure projects.
“Ah,” but you may say, “What about programs for the arts? For the environment? For murder drones? For medical research?” What of them? They’ll get exactly as much money as the taxpayers choose to give them. Because here’s the thing all proponents of Big Government must be very clear on: If the people picking up the check don’t want to pay for something, there is no authority in nature that can justify making them do otherwise.
This is taxation by direct representation. Good as it is, representational government is a poor substitute for democracy when it comes to legislating matters of personal choice. But democracy is messy, and 250 years ago, also highly impractical. James Madison, writing in Federalist No. 10, made the case for a republican form of government, but recognized the danger here: “Men of factious tempers…or of sinister design…[may] betray the interest of the people.” Which, of course, they have. Like a lot of revolutionaries, the Founding Fathers made the mistake of assuming that everyone else was as committed to the primacy of the cause as they were, and that everyone always would be.
And of course James Madison was never on Facebook. I’ll resist the urge to drone on about the miracle of the Internet, and only say that giving voice to the masses is no longer a problem. The infrastructure is more or less already in place to handle this proposal, and the Federal government knows how to collect taxes. It is one of the few things it does well.
So: for every dollar you take from me, you have to cut $4. And each taxpayer gets to determine what percentage of their tax dollars are allocated to which agencies. That’s the plan. Everybody who deserves to win, wins.
If you agree with me, in whole or in part, please do me a favor: offer some commentary below. Share this on Facebook. Tweet it. Get the word out. Or tell me I’m an idiot. That works, too. But if you are going to call me an idiot, at least tell me why.
* I concede I may be oversimplifying the problem: the bureaucratic implications of this are staggering, if you accept them. I do not. It’s implied that these new allocation rules would be legislated into action, and would supersede all other regulations and statutes. I can’t think of one thing in the Constitution that would prohibit this sort of allocation process, and it is certainly no more complicated than landing a man on the Moon, which was something we once worked together to do.