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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eight Steps to a Sound Economy

Okay, the economy is officially going down the crapper. Everything we've tried, starting with the Bush bailout and extending into the Obama spending spree, has only made things worse. We've been spending all of our time and money on peripheral matters while ignoring the things that really make an economy work. To borrow a baseball analogy, we need to work on our essentials.

The following measures will, given time, heal the wounds our leaders have opened:

1. Tax imports at the same rate our trading partners tax our exports. Fair is fair, and considering the way most countries tax our goods, we'd see tons of revenue from the measure.

2. Allow companies to fail. That's what recessions are for in a capitalist system. Recessions are how the market weeds out weak companies and makes room for smaller, more efficient ones. Propping up failing companies is much akin to duct-taping dead limbs to a tree.

3. Replace the current welfare system with a federal job agency. You go in for a handout, you come out with ten job interview appointments.

4. Give people a tax credit of up to $10,000 toward the installation of solar panels on their homes. The caveat is that the panels must be American-made. This would go a long way toward solving the energy crisis, and would please both the environmentalists and the Republicans (any tax-break is a good tax-break).

5. Tie immigration to the unemployment rate.
When unemployment is lower than two percent, we allow immigration. When it's higher than that, we don't. Period. It is the height of foolishness to import workers when those we already have are out of work.

6. Erect a border wall and enforce immigration law. The primary argument against this measure is that agribusiness will not be able to hire because illegals are the only people who will do the work. My response to that dilemma is suggestion number three. Americans won't do farm labor if we'll pay them for doing nothing. Once we stop doing that, you'd be surprised what hungry people will do to feed themselves.

7. Open up our oil reserves for drilling and incentivize coal-to-oil production. We need to buy some time to discover better energy sources, and it would be foolish to tank the economy in a stubborn refusal to use the oil we have. Plus, these measures would allow us to be oil-independent, starving out our enemies, which is a bonus.

8. Replace income taxes with a national sales tax. Food, rent, and clothing (up to a $100 price limit) could be exempted, making this by far the most progressive option for taxation. It would also remove disincentives from investment in the stock market, as you would not be taxed on your capital gains. Also, a national sales tax would put American and foreign-owned companies on the same level. That is, it would erase any tax-benefit from leaving the country, keeping more jobs here at home.

None of these suggestions is particularly right-wing or left-wing. They're just pragmatic, common-sense ideas that would work. Next week, I'll propose my ideas to overhaul the health care system. I hope someone is listening; too often, blind partisanship takes the place of actual thought in our politics. The same old, failed ideas are simply regurgitated or inserted into new scenarios. It's sad, really. Whatever happened to Yankee ingenuity?