Sunday, January 2, 2011

o A Representative Republic Without Political Parties

The task of the current generation is not to bicker about individual issues, its to reorganize the entire system of government to ensure its continuous existence. Individual issues are fads that come and go with the social climate. The real challenge is to establish a solid governmental foundation for future generations. The macro system of government has to be overhauled to make sure the government is still in business to carry out policies.

The time decay of our current system of government is large. Nations fail when the government's overstep their legal, authoritative and budgetary boundaries. What's different about America than any other prior and now extinct or declining world power? America's strength lies in its ability to adapt and to evolve, but even those qualities can fail if people don't take action.

Political parties are a legacy of an antiquated system. Prior to the advent of communication through computers and other technologies, politicians had to articulate a set of ideas to the public. Currently political parties, their candidates and their ideas are joined as one. I put forth the proposition that ideas about public policy should be stripped from political candidates and instead reside with the voters. The personal views of a politician are irrelevant and should not cloud the political debate. Ideas should evolve and exist on their own merit. Issues should be debated in an open public forum, with both sides expressing their opinions. Its the politician's duty simply to pick up the ideas that "win" and carry them to Washington DC, much like a traveler carries a piece of luggage. Using this arrangement, the politician serves in a similar capacity as a defense attorney, unbiased and ready for hire.

How will politicians know what direction to vote? Voters can be asked to fill out a survey like the census. The feedback from the questions in the survey will capture their opinions on a wide range of political topics and attitudes on social issues. The election process should be about finding the best person to take the aggregated surveys and generally vote in the manner the polls indicate. Ideally, you would be voting a politician into office based on their abilities, not because of their personal views and not because of their personal ideologies. The politician simply becomes a conduit of information, someone who can articulate the concerns of their constituency. The political candidate's own personal views should not interfere with the task they are hired to perform. The public reclaims control over and the power to decide the ideas and issues, which are currently being held hostage by political parties. Political parties can no longer manipulate the public to vote for them based on how they spin each topic. The real power, the power to decide on how to vote for issues, is returned to the people. Under this schema, the hired politician may be carrying a basket full of ideas from both ends of the political spectrum to Washington DC. The constituents are not locked into a single platform.

I believe political candidates should be paid around $1.0 million per year in total compensation for their services, in order to attract the best and the brightest of our society. Politics must keep pace with private industry pay levels. You don't want lesser talented people to set the rules for society. This compensation number may seem high. Where does the money come from to pay such a large amount? The average cost of winning a House race in 2008 was nearly $1.1 million and almost $6.5 million for a Senate seat. The campaign contributions that normally go toward an individual candidate can be pooled and given to the person hired to do the task as a bonus on top of the salary mandated by law. Therefore tax payers are not paying for the total compensation of the politician. Its a combination of public money and private funds.

Further, search committees will have to be formed to find the best candidates and limit the candidate pool. The search committee will be charged with identifying the desired attributes and qualifications for the next office holder, gathering recommendations, conducting a comprehensive and thorough review of candidates, ensuring appropriate participation in the search by the community, and recommending finalists for consideration of the public. Politicians truly become public servants and not power hungry leaders. Voters will then have an election to vote in the candidate that best represents the issues into office.

Another step toward preserving the government is a balanced budget. A balanced budget amendment is a priority. I also propose changing the tax code to a 10% flat tax so that everyone in society contributes to the social services a government provides. There will always be underachievers and under performers in any society that need more in services than they are capable of paying for through taxes. Charitable donations can make up for the shortfall in taxes. For every $100,000 someone earns, that person should be required to donate 5% of their salary toward a charity. One of the stipulations on the charity is that it dedicates no more than 25% of its income to their overhead costs. The efficiency in giving to a charity to redistribute income far outweighs the inefficiency of giving to the bloated US government to perform a task or a service. I would estimate that for every $1.00 going to the government, only about $0.10 goes to the actual person a social program is intended to help. That's 90% waste caught up in the bureaucracy. The goal is to put wealth distribution back into the hands of the citizens, make it more cost efficient, and not politicize the process. Websites such as can help people navigate through the multiple charitable organizations.

The system needs to change, or else everybody will be worse off. The combination of talented, a-political people in office with a balanced budget should solve most of the current problems. The U.S. is the best country ever created, let's keep it that way. May everyone have a happy and prosperous 2011!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

o Federal Budget Appropriations and Taxes

Imagine that each congressional district had its own IRS tax code crafted by the congressman in that district. For example, Congressional District 1 in Pennsylvania, the District that contains the city of Philadelphia might have a flat tax. While Pittsburgh's Congressional District 14 has a progressive tax structure. The Congressman in the district determines the tax code. Further the Congressman creates his own appropriations budget. The budgets from all Congressmen across the country are aggregated to create the national budget. This would put the budget and the tax structure in the hand of the voters through a democratic vote of the candidate.

The positive externalities of such a system is that voters feel directly involved with the budget process. Voter turn out will increase. People will see exactly how much government programs cost and will decide how much to fund them. A bank bailout will become a tax leveled directly on each citizen.

Couple this with a balanced budget amendment and you will have a government that spends less and a population that has a voice in how its taxed.

o Competition in Elections

I recommend a mandatory minimum of three political parties. Each political party must run a minimum of three candidates in all primary elections. If an election has no primary, then have three candidates for each party in the general elections. That is a minimum of nine candidates per election. Each candidate within a political party has to be equally funded. The competition will bring out the best candidates.