California’s AB32 (cap n’ tax) controversy and the impending opportunity to suspend a good part of it through passage of Proposition 23 has given rise to discussions on better approaches to governance. Here is a partial list of my druthers, some of which may even be doable, and, I’m sure, there’re one or two ‘you can’t get there from here’ in the collection. As always, I invite a spirited discussion and critique.
1. Term-limits. All elected offices, federal and states, would be term limited. There would be no professional political ruling class. Once your elected term ends, you must have a time out of at least four years before diving into the public trough again.
2. New Tax Code. All income (not profits) of all federal tax-paying entities (individuals, institutions, businesses, …) get taxed at a flat rate, say 10%, right off the top. No more government picking winners and losers; you want to bank or spend a dollar, then you’d better plan on taking in $1/0.90, or about $1.11. States can set their own flat tax rates, not to exceed fed rate, as they see fit. No more sales tax on anything.
3. Sunset laws. All legislation will contain their sunset provisions. Any legislation that requires extension or renewal will be subject to the same requirements as those that first put them into the book.
4. Dismantle Commons. Cf. Garrett Hardin’s ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’. For a commons to survive requires altruism from all of its consumers. Government should identify and eliminate commons wherever it finds them, and substitute the personal responsibility of individuals for their continued husbanding and maintenance.
5. Single issue legislation. No unrelated issues will be wrapped/bundled/hidden/etc in any one single piece of legislation. Each unrelated issue will have to visibly stand or fall on its own. Laws should include maximum use of graphics (e.g. influence factors diagrams and inter-process communications diagrams) to disambiguate their content, shorten their legalese prose, and make their implementation clear to all. This should be viewed as part of the overall lawyer unemployment effort.
6. Two-thirds supermajority on all legislation involving government receipts and unbudgeted expenditures. States included.
7. No more add-on fees for government services. That’s what the flat tax is for. If the government can’t afford to do it from their existing income, then don’t do it. No more nickel and diming the taxpayer.
8. All government bodies will deliver timely budgets. Any body (elected appointed) failing to meet budget deadline will be placed incommunicado and under house arrest with no pay until a budget is presented. The sworn responsibility to the people comes first.
9. All peacetime budgets will be balanced; no deficit spending.
10. No offensive military operations outside our borders will be permitted without formal declaration of war. Extended (say, beyond 30 days) defensive operations will require a pro-forma declaration of war.
11. Deadlocked legislatures will be issued a warning, and, say, after 30 days automatically declared dysfunctional, and new elections held within 90 days of such declaration, after which the dysfunctional body is disbanded. No member of a disbanded dysfunctional body may run for public office during the ensuing four year interval.