As an American, I am willing to…

By | February 16, 2011

As an American, I am willing to live with…

  1. Reduction of the size of the military by 50%. The cost is enormous and we would be just fine with a reduction in forces to half of what we have today.  We would still be spending more on military than most other countries.
  2. Reduction of nuclear weapons to 20 ICBM missiles.  We currently have 2,468 Active missiles. (9,600 total)  I think 20 would absolutely do the trick of deterring enemies.  Even 50 would be acceptable, but seriously, 2,468 is just obscene.
  3. Increase in the retirement age to 70.  People are living so long these days.  They are working well into their 60s and even 70s.  Social Security is just not sustainable right now.  We need to deal with entitlements.  Increasing the retirement age to 70 will save Social Security.
  4. Increase the cost of gas to $10 a gallon. We need real renewable energy.  We need electric cars.  We need an upgrade to the nations energy grid.  All of this obviously needs to be paid for.  Tax gasoline to build this stuff.
  5. Wind Energy that kills some birds and is ugly.  I get that the turbines kill birds and that’s not good.  However, wind energy is awesome and we need to have WAY more of it.  Put them in my backyard, I don’t care.  I want cheap energy.
  6. Increased property taxes (especially in California). Fund the schools!  Tax properties to do it! The California tax system is insane and its the schools that suffer.
  7. Increased taxes to pay for the arts. The government should fund the arts.  This is the hallmark of a great civilization.  Cutting funding for the arts is short-minded.  The arts inspire greatness.

All of these things are politically risky.  They are “third-rail, touch them and you die” issues.  I am looking for a leader who can convince Americans to do ANY of these things.  I am willing to live with all of them.  They all have downside like higher taxes, dead birds and reduced entitlements.  In this world, sometimes you need to make choices that have downside.  You can’t always get everything you want.

What would you be willing to sacrifice for the good of the country?

9 thoughts on “As an American, I am willing to…

  1. lux

    For people who work at a desk, asking them to put off retirement doesn’t seem so bad, but for people whose jobs are more physical, raising the retirement age is brutal.

    A much better way to help Social Security would be to raise or remove the cap on taxable wages. Right now once you hit ~$100K in taxable income each year, you stop paying into Social Security. Raising that cap to ~$250K would generate a ton more income and not force people to keep working long after their bodies are unable to perform the work.

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  2. Glen Lipka Post author

    @Lux: I’m sure a different person would have a different list. However, I am willing to live with that particular trade-off. Your idea is fine; you would trade paying more in taxes to support existing entitlements. My main point is: Most politicians don’t want to make tough choices that seriously change the dynamic and trade-off between good and bad.

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  3. Dan

    Preach on brother (literally). If we decreased our military by 85% we would still spend more money than any other country. 85%! People think if we reduced by half we would be weak, but that is just crazy.

    I agree with the rest, except 6. I don’t want to be paying for 60 years of teachers’ pensions after they only worked for 20 years. Investing is a bad product doesn’t make it better.

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  4. From MA

    Increased property taxes (especially in California). Fund the schools! Tax properties to do it! The California tax system is insane and its the schools that suffer.
    It’s not the taxes per see that make US schools bad.

    I see two major issues:
    1. Local city/town/county (property) taxes pay for schools. The problem with that is it segregates people by income. Towns with decently funded schools are too expensive for poor folks, so they move elsewhere where the schools for their kids are poorly funded.

    This is a double whammy: First the schools have less money and second all your neighbors are poor, likely not well educated and so their standards are accordingly. Don’t forget the single most predictor for good school performance is the expectations of someone important in your life.

    2. What US folks care about in schools has little to do with success in life.

    What do parents care about in their kids schools? Academic standards? No, they care about the sports and the drama. I know that you do want arts funded by the government, but arts is consumptive and not productive. Arts is a function of wealth and not a producer of it. I don’t mean to put down the arts or artists, I love them too and I’m with you that arts are important in a civilized society. But if I have to choose as basic education requirements between arts and reading/writing or sports and math, then I know what my choice is.

    Again, I don’t try to drop those things, but I feel they are not the most priority on the planet. Because at the end of the day only a few artists or athletes become megastars and a few more can actually support themselves and their family. But on literacy and math and science a few millions have to live of. But used right drama can be really a valuable tool. Reciting poems will strengthen your memorizing ability and acting will improve your play acting skills. Both are important tools in today’s business climate. However I see no standards for these kinds of core skill that are measurable.

    Talking about core skills, I’d like to see more practical education that is applicable to anybodies life. For example who ever learned in school to understand a mortgage contract or let alone the interest payments. Or where did you learn to budget with your income. I also meet lots of people (if not the majority) that can’t distinguish revenue from profit (or income). How about, simple negotiation skills, sales skills, your rights in court as a civil defendant or a criminal defendant, the city budget, …? What are schools for if not to teach those kinds of basics?

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  5. Glen Lipka Post author

    @MA: I appreciate the feedback. I encourage you and others to make your own list. What tough choices would you make? Put the link here.

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  6. Dave

    Agreed! (Although I live in New Jersey, where property taxes couldn’t possibly go any higher — right? please? — but I am prepared to pay higher taxes in general, if that money is used for environmental protection, the arts, and social services.)

    I’m especially with you on the gas price. Driving should be a privilege, not a right, and drivers should be forced to compensate other Americans (and the Earth) for the impact of that privilege. Whenever higher gas prices are proposed, people will inevitably claim that it’s an undue burden on the middle class. How are they supposed to get to work? But it’s the only way to effect change. Tax the gas and put the money into public transportation — we will get people to their jobs, just maybe not in their own private coaches. Over time, infrastructure will change, attitudes will change, and cities will be redesigned to preference walking and public transportation instead of cars. We only need cars because we’ve made ourselves need cars.

    For the record, I own a car and enjoy driving it. And I will happily pay $10 a gallon for gas in order to fund sustainability.

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  7. Donald Ball

    I’m also with you on everything except 3. First, it’s partly based on a mistruth. Much of the increase in lifespan over the past century is due to decreased infant and child mortality; the working population lives only a little bit longer than it had been. Furthermore, at a time of 9%+ unemployment, increasing the size of the labor force by increasing the SS retirement age is counterproductive. There just aren’t a lot of jobs out that for people 65-70; there are less and less jobs out there for people 50+, regardless of what the EEOC has to say about the matter. Finally, your proposal would have the net effect of reducing lifetime payouts by SS by 30% or more. That would be tantamount to pulling a bait and switch on those of us who’ve been paying into the system for however long and factoring it into our retirement plans.

    Raise or eliminate the payroll tax cap, or gradually increase the rate about about 1.5%, and you’ve solved Social Security forever.

    I don’t mean to pile on, I think this is a useful exercise, just stating my opinion.

    As for me: I’d return the federal tax rates to those in the Eisenhower era. A highly progressive tax system is required to counteract the tendency of a capitalist economy to concentrate wealth.

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  8. mdmadph

    I’m not touching this discussion. 😛 Besides #3, not one of these have a lick of a chance of actually coming true in today’s political environment.

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