First, well meaning progressives and libertarians need to purge the thought that just because they are right on so many important issues does not mean that America will one day wake up and see the light. Libertarians and progressives, as disgusted as we may be with one another, have to form a temporary alliance of at least 4 years and maybe as much as 8 to make sure the two headed corporate beast is dead and unable to rise again. After that job is done then we can beat the hell out of one another if that is what we feel like doing.
This alliance has not and will not come together based on current commonalities on important issues like non-interventionism in foreign policy, civil liberties, corporate welfare, military spending. As significant as these issues are, this intersection of interests has been around for the last hundred years and not once have we formed any alliance beyond a few votes in congress.
Why the persistent divide? Obviously, it's economic issues. We progressives think that in these economic circumstances what we need is increased spending on domestic programs, especially, education, green energy and infrastructure, universal single payer health care, basic research and development. Pay for this by raising taxes on the wealthy and making massive cuts in unnecessary and counterproductive spending on the military industrial catastrophe and its numerous corporate cousins.
Libertarians on the other hand want massive reductions in military, foreign and domestic budgets along with gutting of most regulations in all sectors of the economy all to pay for massive tax reductions for all Americans, especially those who are most productive, the rich.
We could yell and scream at each other for how stupid the other is and let the beast continue to run wild. We could each sit back and say to ourselves, truth is on our side and truth will prevail while corporate media continues to lie, lie, lie. We could smugly plant our proud posteriors in pedantic think tanks while the powers that be laugh all the way to the banks they already own. We could even make another blog to shout into the wind.
We could do all this and more and let the earth go to hell for not finally seeing the light which is in us, to us and through us.
Or we could take a different tact.
We could come to grips with political reality that we are, as always, politically marginalized. We do not have the numbers separately to take down this beast. The beast will only be taken down by a coalition and while we would love to convert those cultural conservatives, it ain't happening. We have to either stand together or die separately. There is a massive military stimulus on the way and it will put desperate Americans back to work, making both of us irrelevant unless we face this political reality by joining forces in an uncomfortable coalition.
But that coalition gets formed only when we can make our way to a creative compromise on economic issues. (For those who are so damned ethical that you could never compromise without compromising principles, see my post on the difference between principles and ideals.)
Here's the way to make the economic compromise that moves both agendas forward simultaneously while decapitating both beastly heads of America Inc.:
First, acknowledge neither of us can get all we want for Christmas but we could get a few very important things we need. We can get significant cuts in the amount of taxes the vast majority of Americans are currently paying while cutting the size, power and budget of the federal government. We can also get a massive investment by the public sector to build the peaceful green economy of high speed rail, wind, solar, geothermal and other clean and renewable energies, etc. We can put tens of millions of people back to work rebuilding America's roads, bridges, tunnels, levies, ports, canals, runways, power grid, schools, etc.
How? How can we reduce overall federal spending and taxes for most people while creating massive public sector investment in jobs building a new peaceful green economy? First the budget cuts: 500 to 700 billion in cuts from overseas military spending and foreign aid (yes most progressives understand that much foreign aid is spent propping up dictators and murderous thugs), military contracts on weapons systems we dare not ever use, ridiculous homeland insecurity projects, endless and stupid drug wars, corporate welfare, etc.
Then we can knock another 100-200 billion off of domestic budgets for needless bureaucracies by consolidating major departments and putting these more powerful but less funded departments into the hands of some real progressives. For example, let's make Robert Kennedy Jr. the head of the new department of Energy and Natural Resources which combines the EPA, Interior, Energy, Agriculture and Transportation into one department. We might even be able to work out a deal with state and local governments and private businesses to sell off the Interstate Highway System and use the funds to build a truly high speed interstate rail system.
So far we have 600 to 900 billion in cuts. Next let's look at revenue. Let's really reform the tax code and significantly reduce the tax burden on at least 90% of the population while raising the tax burden on less than 3% of the population. Here are two big ideas, one my own, on how we reduce the IRS to a small number of auditors working for Treasury. We start with 3 income tax brackets of 10, 20 and 30 percent with greatly increased standard deductions, basic exemptions and child tax credits. We add to those brackets an annual consumption tax of 10% on spending above a million dollars.
Gradually we shift to a steeply progressive consumption tax with a significantly high exemption on spending (enough to cover all necessary spending on the basics and satisfy all the voluntarists among the Randians). In addition we legalize prostitution, pot and several other social vices and impose a serious sin tax on them. We also increase taxes on imports from lands where the government oppresses its people and destroys the environment. In other words, we normalize relations with Iran and Cuba and tax them the way we ought to tax the Chinese. We permanently reduce payroll taxes by raising or eliminating the cap and slowly over a long time period raising the retirement age.
We could go on about several ways to reform how, what, who and how much we tax. The point is we could unburden Americans of great tax burdens while significantly raising revenues if we just get out of our very tight boxes long enough to think creatively. In doing so we could raise 100-300 billion in annual revenues.
That's a total of 700-1200 billion a year in savings and revenue increases without taking into account what we do with this savings which serves to grow the economy and multiply revenue gains.
Second, we take these revenues and savings and we split them in half. Use one half to pay down debt (that is don't spend it all or use it to pay down debt faster). Use the other half to fund block grants to the states based solely on each state's population. Let the states do what they want to with the grants as long as they publicly account for how every penny is allocated. This starts a contest to prove that Texas is smarter than California just as libertarians are smarter than progressives.
Of course those brave and brilliant libertarians out there will object by saying, "Well why don't we just not tax them rather than sending the money up before it comes back down?" I know we progressives are way to paranoid about wealthy people keeping their money. Let's make a sub deal on this deal. We go up to come down for 3 years and then we phase out federal funding over the next five years through diminishing matching funds.
In other words, placate our progressive insecurities for a few years so you can have your infallible free market utopia for the next millennium since we all know that once rich people get to keep at least 90% over everything they earn, invest or inherit, working people will be fully employed in good paying and long lasting, high benefits jobs.
Third, and this is a little redundant, promise and deliver a real coalition government starting with a libertarian/ progressive or progressive/libertarian presidential ticket. No deal is going to be trusted if it's: "Join with me and do it my way since some of your way is already my way and you shouldn't mind getting 60% while I get 100% of what I want." Maybe it's a Sanders/Johnson ticket next time or Paul/Ellison. Either way trusted persons can be trusted to keep the covenant. Let a libertarian have Treasury. And let's not just audit or even abolish the Fed. Let's replace it by putting its powers back in the hands of the congress where the Constitution says it belongs.
Let's consolidate several domestic departments and reduce the total budgets of those departs by 20 to 30% over 4 years but reassure us loser leftists by putting real progressives in charge. That way you can watch us fall flat on our faces and the American people decide to devolve all of that authority back to the states and private sector.
For neither side is this deal ideal. However, it is a better deal than you can expect from either Obama 2 or Romney 1. I know you would get a better deal with Johnson and the Judge or the Eye Doctor and Amash. Just like we are going to get a much better deal when Dennis and VP Bernie begin their rule with open hands.
For goodness sake, stop this fantasy or at least put the pause button on! You are not getting the deal you salivate for until your first kill the beast. If you are ever going to wake the rest of America up, you must first set the alarm for yourself.
I'm through. Bye.