By Charles Biderman
Over the past year I have been quite critical of our current form of government. My recent rant that governments are incapable of effectively providing services such as education and health care, was not the first time that I have said these things.
So while it is much easier complaining about the way it is, here are my thoughts as to how to fix the mess. But before the restructuring part, let us go back to the Declaration of Independence and let me state that I agree that all of us are entitled to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness. Notice I added “right to property” which originally was in the Declaration but was removed and pursuit of happiness was added. I think human beings are entitled to both.
Therefore to me, in line with our inalienable rights, the new government should not make laws that prohibit individual pursuit of happiness, with the key caveat that such pursuits do not harm others, and is limited to adults. That means no laws against self-destructive behavior such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc. That does not mean we should not try and educate and inform about self-destructive behavior. But no laws against private pursuit of happiness. Particularly government should make no laws against personal pursuit of sexual happiness, as long as it is between consenting adults.
What is more, if I were dictator in charge of restructuring the government, I would want to start with a clean slate. Therefore, I would start by eliminating almost all existing government bureaucracies. This might seem very radical to some of you, but this is only one man’s opinion, mine.
For example, my first move would be to eliminate all the 50 states employees and legislators. States were necessary at the start of the 1800’s when we were a horse and buggy society when it would take several days to ride from New York City to Albany and a week on horseback from LA to San Fran. But states are not geographically necessary today. We do not need states as a very fat layer of middle management between the Feds and local government All the money that went to the states would instead go local. All services provided by the states would be provided locally.
Special interest groups control all the major Washington bureaucracies. Therefore to eliminate special interest group control, I would eliminate almost all the US cabinet positions and jobs with the exception of Treasury, State and Defense. And yes, I would appoint myself, head of real time economic data after eliminating the Departments of Commerce and Labor and the Census Bureau.
Those state and federal government employees losing their jobs would be entitled to previously approved entitlements if they work for an additional 12 months to help in the restructuring of how their services get provided.
OK. Now that I have in essence eliminated virtually all government bureaucracy, here are my current thoughts as to how we can effectively provide three services, education, health care and the post office. For starters I would keep essential services such as police, fire, water and sewage services at the local level – with a key caveat that entitlements need to be restructured.
First education. At the start of the 12 month changeover, I would have each and every local board of education begin an on line and in person community dialogue to create a consensus about the cost and content of local education. Particularly I would require that all local government activities, results and conclusions are available online for all constituents to see and comment upon. I say to be effective government services need to be local and be totally transparent. That includes salaries, benefits and third party service contracts. If you work for the people, the people are entitled to know everyone’s salaries, benefits and deal terms.
Similarly with health care. Each community, maybe the same size as each board of education or perhaps a larger geographic entity such as local television station coverage, would have conversations seeking consensus as to wellness care. Keeping people healthy is much cheaper than the current system of huge overhead costs for dealing with illness. Each community would in essence determine how to spend all the health care dollars available that had been going to the states and federal government as well as individual medical insurance coverage.
To monitor all this I would also recommend each community appoint a grand jury of citizens with subpoena power to monitor local services as to misfeasance and malfeasance. Misfeasance and malfeasance are fancy words that means doing a bad job either inadvertently or on purpose.
Then there is the post office. Rather than shut it or sell it to Fedex and UPS, I would privatize it and make the Post Office a public company. Every post office address would get 10 shares of stock in the new entity. The US government would eat all the past debt and be liable for all current worker entitlements based upon the past.
But after the privatizing date all salaries and services would be up for grabs. The new private post office would be allowed to shutter any location they want and change stamp prices and services at will.
Those are my thoughts. If you can come up with a better solution, I would love to hear them. Let the conversations begin.
President & CEO TrimTabs Investment Research
Portfolio Manager, TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (TTFS)
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