Hey! I'm Running for President...
I occupy an odd political niche in my family. My Dad, who has always been a free-market, take-care-of-business Republican, has moved farther to the right now that he is retired and has a chance to listen to the radio; he has grasped the rampant left-wing bias of such sources as the New York Times and NPR. On the other wing, my father-in-law, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party in his younger days, has used his retirement to delve more deeply into Socialism. He believes that capitalism is in its decadent twilight, and the only answer is an international movement of the working class. "But you don't have to worry," my wife teases me, "You're a Georgist; nobody knows what you think!" Her only real interest in politics is at the local level -- where she is creditably involved, as a School Board member. She shoves in an old West Wing or Star Trek tape whenever the President comes on, though; national politics gives her hives.
Since I spend 40 hours a week promulgating this Georgist thing, I allow myself a good measure of reticence about it at family gatherings, where it is just, after all, one ideology among many. I answer questions, if asked, tersely, and suggest a web-link. I want to get right back to Eli's fencing lessons or the amazing amount of rain we've had. Life's too short.
However, in the Interest of Full Disclosure -- and, I suppose, as a reality-check, so as to stay in touch with how far the real is from the ideal -- here, if anybody's interested, is where I stand on the issues:
National Defense. I'm for it. Seriously: in my Administration, a huge can of whup-ass will be opened on anyone who invades these shores. Because I abhor redundancy, however, I would abolish the Department of Homeland Security. Seems to me the Defense Department ought to be able to defend the security of our homeland. I would re-align the Pentagon with its traditional mission. Too many resources have been wasted, up to now, on National Offense. I would cancel the bunker-busters, mothball most of the Carrier Battle Groups and immediately stop buying new fighter planes. The fighter planes we had in 1980 outperform any planes anyone else has built since then. I'm not going to fire the jet mechanics, but we certainly don't need new ones.
I would give back, with thanks, the latest heap of "emergency military funding", only spending what is necessary to implement the immediate withdrawal of all of our troops (and all of our idiot contractors) from Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean everybody, out: now. Enough already. If they want us back, they'll invite us.
While we are on the subject of National Security: I would immediately, completely, unilaterally, without strings or riders, forgive 100% of the international debt of every nation classed by the IMF as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). Don't kid yourselves: the USA has the power to do that. Would that not bring a powerful fund of goodwill our way? Dollar for dollar, this is the best anti-terrorism initiative I can think of.
My next anti-terrorism initiative (we're still on the issue of National Security, by the way) is my Energy Program. This has many aspects; space permits me only to list a few of the coolest ones:
- The EZ-pump program. Bar-coded inspection stickers will register the MPG rating of each vehicle. These will be scanned at the gas pump, and the price of fuel will be increased in proportion to your vehicle's guzzle quotient.
- Public transportation. Subways, commuter trains, Amtrak and energy-efficient buses will receive lavish infusions of Federal support. We'll send a clear message: if you want Pork, you must conserve energy.
- Micropower. Many of the feasibility issues about alternative/renewable power sources become much more tractable when applied on a single-family basis. It's not for everybody, but economies of scale can make small, local wind, solar or fuel-cell generators viable. I propose a surcharge on grid-based power, higher when it comes from fossil-fuel sources -- the proceeds to go into micropower R&D.
- Hydrogen. For the next ten years, we should use the same annual amount of fossil fuels as we do now. Our goal should be to conserve at least 25% of that fuel -- turning what is saved into hydrogen. I don't doubt that we could lick the storage/delivery challenges, if we devoted as much money to it as we do now to, say, fighter planes.
Tax Reform. Well, everybody agrees that we need it, right? I realize it is a long-term project, but my administration will settle for nothing short of the Full Monty: complete elimination of taxes on wages and sales; full collection of the rental value of natural opportunities. If that sounds zealous, so be it. It's time America came to grips with the liberating truth that nothing else will work.
The Government. You free-marketeers out there who thought you could count on Lindy Davies to implement a teeny-tiny, Gingrichian federal government: It ain't me you're lookin' for, Babe. As our tax reforms begin to take effect, the overall prosperity they engender will reduce the cost of social-welfare at the federal level. But, until we make it to the promised land, we'll still need such programs as:
- Social Security. NOT privatized. By the time the old trust-fund model dries up, we'll be living in Geotopia and will no longer need it.
- Health Care. As Nobelist William Vickrey forcefully stated, the private insurance model is a vicious circle, inherently wasteful and irretrievably tilted toward unfairness. We'll start with Single-payer on the Canada model. As with Social Security, by the time the problems of that system start to come back and bite us, our overall prosperity will leave us much better-equipped to explore alternatives.
- Education. I'm hoping that our abolition of sales and income taxes will take some of the teeth out of the local property-tax-revolt, and therefore the funding base for public education will be a bit sturdier. But, Utopia isn't built in a day. In the meantime, our draconian slashing of the military budget will free up some funds to make sure that, for example, schools can afford to hire librarians and guidance counselors.
Even in the best of times, however, I propose that these two Natural Monopolies remain the permanent reponsibility of the national government:
- Money. The Fed has outlived whatever usefulness it may once have had. Banks are to have a 100% reserve requirement, and money will be issued by the Executive Branch, by a Cabinet-level agency whose directorship is subject to the advice and consent of Congress.
- Basic Research. The patent system is also a dinosaur that deserves extinction. Basic research in every discipline will be Federally funded. Existing patents will expire on an accelerated schedule. New products will be in the public domain.
I think you're getting the gist of my candidacy. Let me make three more quick proposals and then let you go:
The Minimum Wage. Oddly enough, I will continue the current administration's policy in this area, and not press for any increase in the federal minimum wage. We won't need it much longer, anyway.
Immigration. A stable and prosperous Mexico is our best immigration policy. People might still want to come here, of course, and I wouldn't stop them. Our rising tide will be sufficient to float their dinghies. At the same time, I would urge our neighbors to the south -- as well as all those newly debt-free nations of what may now actually become "the developing world" -- to examine our single-tax policy for themselves. It may just be possible to stop racing to the bottom.
The United Nations. I would immediately pay, with interest, all back dues owed by the United States, and I would appoint Sandra Bullock as Ambassador. I know she may need to grow into the job, but we'll get her a qualified staff -- and hey, if Ronald Reagan could manage as President, I'm sure Sandra can handle this.
Lindy Davies is the Program Director of the Henry George Institute.
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