Sunday, January 27, 2008


Before you read my "rant" - I would like to first admit that I do NOT pretend to know more about politics, government or economic theory than the average person. However, I always feel like a different perspective than what is offered in talking points by the two parties is always refreshing.

The following is an entrepreneurs take on the big issues facing the country. I am not for making the government more powerful - but I am for making the government more focused and efficient.

Here we go. 10 simple ways the government can change the course of America.

#1 - Term Limits - Eliminate "career" politicians. Only allow any elected official to have a maximum of 8 consecutive years in office.

#2 - Flat Employment Tax + Consumption Tax - I realize the Tax code is complex. But at the end of the day - why is it so difficult to implement a tax code that can be based on simple concepts like "The more you use, the more you pay" and "The more you invest, the more you get back".... We always talk hear "this reform hurts the poor" or "this will over-tax the rich".... what I am looking for is a tax reform that taxes people that take and do not give back. For example, if a millionaire invests money into the US economy or jobs - he gets the benefit that outweighs the tax he gets hit with on his beach-front home. However, if a millionaire is not investing in charity, the economy - but simply taking and not giving back - he should be taxed. The best way to save our economy and support entrepreneurship is to recognize those people who help our economy and our community - and penalize those who don't.

#3 - Take Guns off the Street - I know, I know - The Constitution says we have the right to bear arms. Ok, I get it. However, I think the spirit of this was to protect our homes in defense. So here is my proposition - no concealed permits. No carrying firearms in public. If you want to protect your home, or go kill some deer - fine. But no guns on the streets. Also, no automatic weapons. We have a major problem with violence in this country... and Government can't change the way we raise our kids - but the least it could do is stop allowing the sale of semi-automatic weapons. (If you are thinking "Screw you - I need my guns" - wait until your 13 year-old son is shot at school... then tell me if the 2nd Ammendment can bring back your boy)

#4 - Stop Credit Card Companies from becoming Loan Sharks - To many people are given too much credit by banks. Many times with outrageous interest. This country is too dependant on credit. It has become an addiction. I don't see why abusing credit is not too different than gambling. The credit card company is the loan-shark, giving you points on money you know you can't pay back. Don't get me wrong - I think Credit is a powerful tool for people to buy homes, cars and other necessities in life - but I think the credit companies need to stop abusing their license to loan. I think the government needs to regulate banks and how they issues credit cards (not all loans). The first step is make it illegal to solicit business through mail. They make it too easy for people to fall victim to their "scams". (Personally, I think all junk mail should be illegal... but this is one that would make a difference)

#5 - Make All Utilities (including Gas) Tax deductable - What a great way to create a check and balance system for "Big Oil" and Government. Not only does it motivate Government to find ways of keeping our energy costs low, but it also makes them feel the pain and focus on smarter energy. This also helps the poor guy who makes minimum wage who drives 60 miles to go to work - and at the same time helps the rich guy who has a yacht and needs to gas it up every weekend. Its a win-win-win.

#6 - Mandate Insurance Rebates - One of the big issues facing many people is the rising rates of insurance (home, risk) and even professionals like doctors are getting killed on insurance for mal-practice. Yes, insurance is necessary - and I realize the system is very complex. But here is a simple way we can help (again, using my simple philosphy of those who do good, receive the benefit). Create Insurance Rebate system where those people who DON'T get sick, or DON'T wreck their car, or DON'T get sued for mal-practice receive a rebate on their insurance. So for example, if I pay $3,000 a year in health insurance, and I don't go to the doctor that much - then I get a rebat of X% that is applied to next years bill. Perhaps its $600 I get back and then I only pay $2,400 next year. Again - this mirrors my thoughts on how taxes should work - based on consumption and abuse. (Also, I look at this like a win-win - because the insurance companies will retain their customers, and motivate them to think twice before driving fast or reporting a false claim - this is clearly a WIN-WIN).

#7 - BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE FOR 2050 - I know this may sound weird - but call me a futurist. Let's look at the basics of why economies flourish, and some die. One of the basic components of having a thriving economy is "access". Remember the old days - before railroads, before the steam engine - not much economy was there? It's not different today. We need to invest billions in our infrastructure. We need to make every major highway bigger. We need to build more high-speed trains, and improve our cities core infrastructure. Congested traffic means less people leave their home to spend money. More traffic means more wasted energy. The more difficult for people to get to and from work - makes it hard for the average american to make a living. We need better infrastructure, new highways, and a new vision for transportation. We need to plan for the next 50 years.

#8 - Pay Kids for attending and accelling in school - Simple. Back to the core concept of "do good, and you will be rewarded" - this is the basic of the American Dream. Work hard, and good things will come. Why not teach this to our youth? For kids to maintain certain grades - we should reward them. Not with stickers and smiley faces. We should reward them with money. Why? because they deserve it. They probably deserve it more than the millions of people on welfare that could get a job, and decide its not worth the effort. I can't think of a better place to invest than Education. How do we pay for it?? Simple - State lotteries, tax rebates to large corporations in the short term - and in the long term it will pay for itself - because we will have more tax payers, less dropouts, less crime and less welfare to pay out.

Another reason why this is a great idea - the money will go directly back into our economy. The money we pay out to kids will go right into our service and retail economy. Maybe (just maybe) some of it will go to a savings account.

Here is some perspective. There are about 50 million kids in high-school and elementary school. Lets say we paid those kids who stay in school (based on attendance) $100 per semester ($400 per year). And for those kids who maintain a 3.0 GPA we pay $200 per semester ($800 per year). Assume we paid out 80% (probably way too high) of kids with good attendance. It would be about 40 Million kids with good attendance = $16 Billion and for good GPA (20% of kids) = $8 Billion. So call it roughly - $25 Billion dollar program per year. Sounds like a lot??? Not really - we have spent $500 Billion on the War in Iraq (that is basically 20 years of my Education Incentive program)

#9 - Tax E-Mail - Don't call me a liberal. I hate taxes as much as you do. But this is actually something that makes sense to me as a taxpayer and someone who hates "Spam" :).

Here are the staggering stats - Over 90 billion messages a day are sent over email. Of which 90% is spam. So lets call it 80 Billion unwanted emails.

I don't think "spam filters" are the solution. If you want to kill something - tax it. So this is actually one of the few times I agree with a tax. Let's say we said "For every email sent we taxed it a penny" (maybe we have an exception that reads "each person is allotted 1,000 emails per month) - this avoids for individuals from the freedom of using the web. The target here are the companies that send millions of "spam" messages a day.

One of two things will happen - Spam will stop - or the government makes money on its new tax. 80 Billion messages per day will result in over $300B a year in tax income. Guess what - I just paid for half my suggested programs above AND reduced annoying emails in your inbox.

#10 - Reward the Family - In my opinion the long-term solution to all the social challenges the country faces - is getting back to supporting the basics - the family. Specifically, there are simple things we can do to rebuild confidence in the american family and show that the government rewards those who work hard. One of the biggest changes I believe could help build stronger support for the family is giving single-income homes and small business owners (entrepreneurs) tax advantages. Today we penalize people for "going on their own to start a business" and we penalize "parents who stay home and choose to raise their children". Maybe I am confused - but aren't these the very things we need to encourage - or atleast support? I am not trying to tell women (or men) to stay at home and not chase their dreams... instead, I am saying "for those who stay at home to focus on family - or for those who are creating businesses and jobs - we want to support you."

I am sure I can think of a few more - but I think 10 is nice round number. If I think of something, I will make sure I add it. Of course my goal was to outline some very simple ways government can re-align with American values, and without over-taxing or being "big-government" - ways that it truly could change the course of America for the better. (atleast I think so).