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A Few Proposals by a Federalist

 
 
Reply Wed 10 Nov, 2004 02:23 pm
The following are a few goals, objectives, and directions that I think might be profitably considered.

I. Build and maintain a credible volunteer military capable and flexible enough to successfully meet mission requirements in any two theaters simultaneously. This should be done without conscription, unless drastic and unforeseen events demand otherwise.

A. Increase manpower by at least 100,000 men over the next 10 years, with an increase of 50,000 in the next four years. One benefit in this would be to decrease Reserve and Guard deployments in number and time deployed.
1. Increase promotions. By increasing force size by almost 20%, there will be need for experienced officer and cadre. By improving promotions over the next 4-6 years, retention of our best for 20-30 years would be improved, and would act as a guide on for the enlarged force. Some Sr. NCOs should be considered for officer training and commissions at pay grades at least one step higher than their enlisted rate.
2. Redeploy troops to ensure easier and faster deployment. This may reduce some large overseas postings back to CONUS. Within the US, older and less efficient bases should be closed. To offset the economic loss of base closings, a strong effort to "equalize" military spending among the various States should be attempted.
3. Improve Guard and Reserve training and logistics. 2004 has highlighted deficiencies that need correction ASAP. Training needs to be much more rigorous and at levels similar to that given regular forces, especially in the Army.

B. Continue the "Transformation" policies begun by SecDef Rumsfeld. Older notions of what constitutes an effective military force are at least somewhat dated and inappropriate to the probable missions of the near-term future. The use of sophisticated technology greatly reduces the numbers needed to field "over-whelming force". Some branches like heavy armor and artillery can be reduced, but others like MI and those information specialties that permit battlefield dominance at a distance are under filled. Special Forces teams in all the services should be increased as much as possible without loss of quality. Light and mid-weight Divisions should far out number heavy Divisions. Communications and rapid deployment of self-contained units are premium for the sort of fast breaking, and often covert, operations that will comprise many missions in the next 5-10 years.
1. RPV R&D should continue, but R&D for systems and platforms that are less agile and flexible should be scaled back. Development of light artillery pieces that can be deployed by helicopters is a better use of resources than large batteries of heavy, long-range pieces that require special skills.
2. Communications and other special devices that improve infantry performance and increase C-cubed integration of the "intelligent" battlefield need be more thoroughly and quickly gotten to the troops.
3. The cost of increasing force size and capability needs to be a national priority. The importance of building and maintaining a credible military force to national security is self-evident. Only so long as the nation remains vastly superior to any other military can we be reasonably secure. Diplomatic credibility and deterrence both depend on credible military force. If we should lose our military edge, what bulwark would we have against the PRC, DPRK, Iran, or any other organization that threatened the nation? Building and maintaining the military is the sine qua non for maintaining our values, our liberty and our country. Nothing else should ever put greater claims on national spending than our military institutions and their readiness.

Once the nation has provided for security against military threats, we must find ways to pay the costs, and assure financial opportunity for the greater part of our citizenry.

II. Strengthen the national economy. The fundamental goal should be to constrain pubic spending and indebtedness to the greatest extent possible. However, there are two circumstances that justify increasing the public debt: (1) war, and let no one mistake the fact that the United States is at war with fanatical extra-national gangs of terrorists operating from within radical fundamentalist Islam, and (2) to stimulate or stabilize the national economy by instituting national projects and programs, and by control of the currency.

A. The National Debt should only be added to by the accumulation of interest on the loans, and should never exceed 125% of the GDP. If expenditures for the military, or for economic stimulation/stabilization appear necessary and would increase the National Debt, the Executive Branch must request them, and the request must be acted upon and receive the approval of the House of Representatives, affirmed by the Senate. No additions to the National Debt shall be made for any social or economic entitlement programs, until the National Debt is lower than 75% of the GDP. This should greatly slow the rate of national indebtedness, and assure that excess spending be strictly limited to those cases where it is essential to the national security and welfare.

B. Bring entitlement programs under control. This means meaningful reform for Social Security and Medicare. Federal supports for industries and large farmers will have to be limited to those that clearly should be protected as a matter of national interest. For instance, it is not in our national interest to fall too far behind in heavy, basic industries like steel production and ship building. Federal Price Supports need to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and Congress must curb its appetite for pork. Currently something like 80% of the Federal Budget is tied up in entitlement programs, and that percentage may rise significantly as our population gets older.

C. Tax Reform is essential, but may not greatly offset the revenue problems we face. Federal Revenues are currently running about 20% of the GDP. That is almost as high as during WWII, and so the tax burden cannot be raised much without throwing the economy back into recession. Lowering the tax rate is problematical because the Federal government needs the revenue now, and the stimulus of lowered taxes may not be realized for a number of years yet. Tax reform is needed to help citizens understand that they are being fairly taxed. In today's tax environment the wealthy pay most of the income taxes, yet they are targeted by the Democratic Party to pay even more. The progressive income tax raises large sums, but it is also unfair to those who produce much of the nation's wealth. Flat taxes, and other simplified schemes are often attractive, but which if any would best suit the United States?

D. Programs that encourage private saving and the reduction of private debt should be strongly supported and encouraged. Many Americans are trapped by huge private debt, and are thereby vulnerable to a whole host of risks and dangers. Without personal savings almost any downturn can ruin a person. Our fascination and demand for instant gratification, without regard to cost is one of the most dangerous aspects of modern American life. It is time to change that, and return to the thrifty habits that typified our forbearers. If you want something, save your money until you can buy it. Credit purchases give the illusion that there is little or no connection between earning and spending. That must change.

III. Pursue Domestic and Foreign Policies that strengthen the humanistic and secular values of Western Civilization and Constitution. There should be a balance between individual rights and the rights of society. When either gets out of balance, liberty is at risk. Tolerance for the views of others is the prerequisite for demanding tolerance for our own points of view. The rights of the minority are always at risk, and never more so than when the majority is very strong and caught up in some emotional fixee. There are no "perfect" governments, just as there are no "perfect" individuals. The U.S. Constitution is the very best arrangement so far arrived at by humanity. Others may differ, and they are free to pursue their own ideas so long as they do not threaten the United States. A strong central national government responsible for national security, the general economy, and Foreign Policy is essential to our system. Those responsibilities are spelled out in the Constitution, and apportioned between the branches of government. Each branch is made up of representatives of the People, and each is charged with pursuing the best policies for the Nation as a whole without regard for the popular opinion. To that end,

A. Decrease Federal involvement in issues that are better handled at State, or local levels. The focus of Federal efforts should be those domestic and foreign policy areas that must clearly be handled by the national government.
1. Matters such as Gay Marriage and Abortion should be left to the various States to legislate with Constitutional review by State and US Supreme Courts.
2. State Programs should be funded by State revenues. This alone would free federal revenues to offset the costs of servicing the National Debt and military spending. Returning most social programs and their costs to local governments would greatly reduce the pork barrel, and each State/community could decide for themselves (with Constitutional Review) what programs and policies they prefer to pursue.

B. Reduce Foreign Aid, and be more discerning in who is given "Most Favored Nation" status. We can't open our purses to everyone, and so we should focus our generosity on those nations that are either struggling to establish governments which share our values, or that are for some clear reason deemed essential to the security and well being of the United States. It is time we stopped rewarding those who hate and despise our system of government, while neglecting loyal friends of liberty. When it is self-evident that the way into our pockets is by friendly relations, perhaps there will be fewer who slander us on the world's stage while living off of our largess in private.

Now if that doesn't set off a fire-storm I'll be greatly surprised.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Nov, 2004 02:28 pm
I treid, but I couldn't find anything to disagree with Asherman... nice work... as usual.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Nov, 2004 02:37 pm
Well done.

Best part:

Quote:
D. Programs that encourage private saving and the reduction of private debt should be strongly supported and encouraged. Many Americans are trapped by huge private debt, and are thereby vulnerable to a whole host of risks and dangers. Without personal savings almost any downturn can ruin a person. Our fascination and demand for instant gratification, without regard to cost is one of the most dangerous aspects of modern American life. It is time to change that, and return to the thrifty habits that typified our forbearers. If you want something, save your money until you can buy it. Credit purchases give the illusion that there is little or no connection between earning and spending. That must change.


Couldn't agree with you more on the trap of credit. We have to move away from the 'buy now, pay later' society before we strangle ourselves on the interest.

Worst part:
Quote:
C. Tax Reform is essential, but may not greatly offset the revenue problems we face. Federal Revenues are currently running about 20% of the GDP. That is almost as high as during WWII, and so the tax burden cannot be raised much without throwing the economy back into recession. Lowering the tax rate is problematical because the Federal government needs the revenue now, and the stimulus of lowered taxes may not be realized for a number of years yet. Tax reform is needed to help citizens understand that they are being fairly taxed. In today's tax environment the wealthy pay most of the income taxes, yet they are targeted by the Democratic Party to pay even more. The progressive income tax raises large sums, but it is also unfair to those who produce much of the nation's wealth. Flat taxes, and other simplified schemes are often attractive, but which if any would best suit the United States?


There is a logical breakdown here.

Namely, the fact that many of the wealthy could pay 50% or even 60% tax rates and still profit millions of dollars every year. So it doesn't hurt them in the slightest to tax them heavily - they are still living lives of unimaginable luxury compared to the VAST numbers of poor and middle class folks in our society.

And we need the money to keep the system running. I understand people want to keep their money; but if we can't get more, quickly, we will never make the financial goals you have laid out here.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Einherjar
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Nov, 2004 06:24 pm
I've deleted all the stuff I completely agree with, which leaves me with this. There is a lot of nitpicking though, as I agree with the general sentiment in almost all of these exerpts as well.


Asherman wrote:
I. Build and maintain a credible volunteer military capable and flexible enough to successfully meet mission requirements in any two theaters simultaneously. This should be done without conscription, unless drastic and unforeseen events demand otherwise.


ANY two theaters? Not all theaters are of equal size, China could be considered one theater. "Mission requirements" is also kind of vague, does this extend to securing a theater or only to being able to take out any given target? I'm guessing you mean the latter, but I'm not sure.

I sympathize with the general sentiment, it would be good to be able to maintain a credible threat while involved in a conflict. Would be costly though.

Quote:
To offset the economic loss of base closings, a strong effort to "equalize" military spending among the various States should be attempted.


Equalize or maintain current distribution of spending? Equalising would sort of disturb present tradingpatterns.

Quote:
3. Improve Guard and Reserve training and logistics. 2004 has highlighted deficiencies that need correction ASAP. Training needs to be much more rigorous and at levels similar to that given regular forces, especially in the Army.


I'm not sure wether you are thinking of increasing the scope of guard and reserve training, or just of altering it. Guard and reserve sound to me like a sort of draft substitute, intended to be available in considerable numbers if necessary, while cheap to maintain in times of peace.

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B. Continue the "Transformation" policies begun by SecDef Rumsfeld.


Would bee good for toppling regimes in a desert/plains/grassland type environment, but you already exel at that. It's urban and densely forested areas you find problematic, and securing and holding control on the ground rather than crippling comanddstructures and taking out tactical targets. Not sure what could be done about that though.

Quote:
The importance of building and maintaining a credible military force to national security is self-evident. Only so long as the nation remains vastly superior to any other military can we be reasonably secure. Diplomatic credibility and deterrence both depend on credible military force. If we should lose our military edge, what bulwark would we have against the PRC, DPRK, Iran, or any other organization that threatened the nation?


You need to be vastly superior? I would have thought that being superior would be enough in the cases of Russia and the PRC, and that would leave you vastly superior to anyone else. And you have a nuclear deterrant, I'ts not like you need to be worried about these nations engaging you in conventional warfare.

Quote:
C. Tax Reform is essential, but may not greatly offset the revenue problems we face. Federal Revenues are currently running about 20% of the GDP. That is almost as high as during WWII, and so the tax burden cannot be raised much without throwing the economy back into recession. Lowering the tax rate is problematical because the Federal government needs the revenue now, and the stimulus of lowered taxes may not be realized for a number of years yet. Tax reform is needed to help citizens understand that they are being fairly taxed. In today's tax environment the wealthy pay most of the income taxes, yet they are targeted by the Democratic Party to pay even more. The progressive income tax raises large sums, but it is also unfair to those who produce much of the nation's wealth. Flat taxes, and other simplified schemes are often attractive, but which if any would best suit the United States?


Fair is a subjective judgement. An argument can be made that many aspects of society are unfair in favor ofthe rich, and that a progressive tax counters that effect.

Quote:
D. Programs that encourage private saving and the reduction of private debt should be strongly supported and encouraged. Many Americans are trapped by huge private debt, and are thereby vulnerable to a whole host of risks and dangers. Without personal savings almost any downturn can ruin a person. Our fascination and demand for instant gratification, without regard to cost is one of the most dangerous aspects of modern American life. It is time to change that, and return to the thrifty habits that typified our forbearers. If you want something, save your money until you can buy it. Credit purchases give the illusion that there is little or no connection between earning and spending. That must change.


I agree, but wouldn't a sudden reduction in spending throw the economy back innto recession? Outlawing creditpurchases would surely have such an effect.

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The U.S. Constitution is the very best arrangement so far arrived at by humanity.


could be debated

Quote:
A. Decrease Federal involvement in issues that are better handled at State, or local levels.


(This feels like a duh moment)

Quote:
2. State Programs should be funded by State revenues. This alone would free federal revenues to offset the costs of servicing the National Debt and military spending.


This I almost disagree with. While I agree that states should fund their own programs, I disagree that this would free up federal revenues. The cumulated federal and state taxburden is the one which is relevant to the economy, and if states are to raise taxes to fund programs previously funded by the federal government while the total taxburden stays the same (which you have previously suggested) federal taxes have to be cut equally much. Thus either the programs are cut, total taxburden is increased, or federal revenue (what is left of it after federal taxes are adjusted) remains unaltered.

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Returning most social programs and their costs to local governments would greatly reduce the pork barrel,


What does it matter wether porkbarrel is at federal or state level?

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Now if that doesn't set off a fire-storm I'll be greatly surprised.


Why? The only controversial things in there (that I spotted) was increasing military spending, and transforming the military. Oh, and flat taxation or some such. (well one issue can set off a firestorm on its own, so you might be right after all)

Many of your proposales were sort of general statements most people will agree with though.
0 Replies
 
Asherman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2004 11:42 am
I am a bit surprised that my proposals did not provoke more comment and criticism.

The importance of maintaining a credible effective military is not popular with those who denounce all use of force. As we enter the 21st century the U.S. all-volunteer military is, in my opinion, the most efficient and effective military in the history of the world. That does not mean that there aren't problems that require fixing. The military is still in the process of changing from the "mass" doctrines that dominated earlier military contests into a more flexible doctrine appropriate to the changing military mission. Since the end of the Cold War, American policy has been misplaced, though manpower cutbacks did help fuel the doctrinal changes that have so greatly improved our military.

For most of the past 60 years the Pentagon tried very hard to retain force levels sufficient to fight two simultaneous major conflicts at opposite ends of the world. Congressional cutbacks based on the mistaken idea that the U.S. no longer needed to be so vastly superior, reduced force levels to only that needed to fight in one theater while holding a second theater at bay. The result was that the number of combat brigades, ships and wings shrank both in number and in manpower. For many years previous to 9-11 it was not unusual for there to be manpower shortages in both enlisted and officer slots. Many military observers, both in and out of the service, did warn that our military budgets were both inadequate, and mis-spent.

Cycloptitron, your willingness to soak the rich is a popular one. I have at least two objections. First, fairness. How is it fair that one person who earns $200,000/year be taxed at 50% of their income, while another who earns $10,000/year may pay nothing? Democrats since the times of Jefferson and Jackson have catered to the propertyless and poor by advocating redistribution of wealth. If a person has wealth the assumption is that they acquired it in some unethical or unlawful way and that they should be deprived of it. If a person is without property or poor, that isn't because they lack initiative, skill, good judgement, or good fortune, but because of some sort of wealthy cabal. The whole view, in my opinion, is anti-democratic and demeaning to all the individuals who make up the People.

That leads to my second objection to the idea that those who are fortunate enough to build personal fortunes should be deprived of them. To take a persons wealth, the profit of their efforts, from them in a disproportionate way discourages initiative. Why start and build a business with the idea of accumulating wealth for yourself and family, if it will be taken away to benefit those with less initiative? The government already legislates and constrains how businesses are run so tightly that many small businesses have difficulty in securing any profit. If the business can not produce a profit, then the person who tries to better themselves are ruined and discouraged from starting a new business. Tax those who produce the wealth too heavily, and they can't afford. Large corporation may be able to afford good compensation packages, ut corporations tend to escape taxation though their employees do not. The government has come to collect significant parts of its revenue from income taxes, and those taxes have increasingly fallen on an ever smaller proportion of the People. Somewhere recently I saw something to the effect that 5% of the People pay over 80% of all the income taxes. That is neither fair, nor is it good public policy.

Einerjar,

The traditional role and mission of the military was to conduct combat operations against the military forces of an enemy nation. 20th century conflict was on a large scale, and traditional doctrine in the US was that our military should be capable of fighting in two widely separated theaters. China is large, but the theater would also include Korea, Mongolia, Japan, and other Western Pacific locals. My reference to "mission requirements" was not clear, but I was referring mostly to the the use of the military to break things and kill enemy combatants.

"Equalize or maintain current distribution of spending? Equalising would sort of disturb present trading patterns." I'm not sure I understand your point. The various States within the Union love to have military bases on their soil because they bring a lot of Federal dollars into local economies. Acquiring and keeping military bases within one's State is one of the most traditional "pork barrel" targets of those elected to national office. The result has been the creation and maintainance of many inefficient, costly military installations that disburse the military. That tends to reduce training opportunities, and makes the logistics of deployment more difficult. Efforts to trim military installations back to those that are more cost-effective and necessary have been difficult. My proposal that some effort be made to offset the loss of Federal dollars by funding other programs/projects is intended only to ease the realignment effort. Trade between the States should not be affected at all. Why would offsetting the cost to local economies of base closures have any impact on the trade between, say Main and Montana?

National Guard and Reserve training needs to be altered by increasing its scope and extent. Both are intended to be "available in considerable numbers if necessary, while cheap to maintain in times of peace." The problem has been that not enough money and effort has been spent to insure that these troops are fully prepared for deployment into the sort of missions that are most likely in the 21st century. While the RA has been revolutionized, the Guard and Reserve are still caught-up in a timelock around 1958. Arms and equipment for these troops are obsolete and often inappropriate to their deployment. The gap between what they should be and what they are needs to be fixed without delay.

The military is still far better at combat operations against organizations that are clearly in arms, than it is in the sort of "nation building" missions that have been added in recent times. We are very good at taking out tactical targets and command structures, and we can take, hold and secure any bit of ground necessary. The problem is that our military is, and will be learning for some time, how to be diplomats, firemen, waste treatment operators, and etc. These aren't really appropriate uses of soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors, but they have been added to our tasking. It will take awhile before our military is as good at those efforts as they are at destroying military targets and opposition.

Yes, we need to be VASTLY superior to any possible opponent if the military is to be a full deterrent. Our nuclear deterrent is only useful against nations with the capacity to use nuclear weapons against our forces, or homeland. We also require "conventional/Special Forces" capable of clear superiority to any force put into the field against the interests of the US, or our allies. Those who are friends and allies today, may be enemies tomorrow, especially if they come to believe that they can win a military conflict against us.

Reduction in the amount of private debt would, I believe, improve our economy while reducing the risks to individual lives. Greater savings would provide the capitol for starting new businesses, and provide a hedge against economic downturns and adjustments. The idea that something can be gotten for nothing, that there is no intimate connection between earning and spending, is a dangerous path that far too many Americans have taken. People will spend, but they should not run up their personal debts far beyond what their income can support. I don't suggest that credit be "outlawed", only that the public be encouraged to save more. We need to promote the idea that individuals are responsible and that our personal fortune is in our own hands. Everyone wants to be financially better off, and the way to that goal isn't for the government to take care of us at the expense of others, but for each citizen to work, invest and save toward our own future.

If you know a better governmental system than the U.S. Constitution, what is it? Finding and maintaining a balance between the power of society and the individual is a difficult thing to achieve, and few systems have had much success. The U.S. Constitution with its checks and balances makes it difficult for any interest group to hold power for very long, and has generally done a good job of protecting the rights of minorities against majorities. The Constitution encourages interest group competition, and competition between ideas. If you have a government you like, then keep it. I don't expect that there are many Americans who would like to abandon our system of government as defined by the Constitution.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2004 01:27 pm
Asherman, thanks for the long and well-thought out response.

Quote:
Cycloptitron, your willingness to soak the rich is a popular one. I have at least two objections. First, fairness. How is it fair that one person who earns $200,000/year be taxed at 50% of their income, while another who earns $10,000/year may pay nothing? Democrats since the times of Jefferson and Jackson have catered to the propertyless and poor by advocating redistribution of wealth. If a person has wealth the assumption is that they acquired it in some unethical or unlawful way and that they should be deprived of it. If a person is without property or poor, that isn't because they lack initiative, skill, good judgement, or good fortune, but because of some sort of wealthy cabal. The whole view, in my opinion, is anti-democratic and demeaning to all the individuals who make up the People.


It's fair because I could tax a wealthy person at 50% and they could still PROFIT, not own, but PROFIT 50 times as much as an upper middle class family makes in a year, every year, for perpetuity.

Taxing the rich 50%, in many cases, doesn't hurt their lifestyle in the slightest. Allowing people making 10k a year to pay nothing means that they don't starve to death. See the difference?

I believe that you are assuming that it is 'fair' that some people control the same amount of resources as thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of other people combined. To me, THAT is the height of 'unfairness.' Noone works that hard or is that indispensible to the human race. They have only profited from a system which is set up to allow such excesses.

Quote:
That leads to my second objection to the idea that those who are fortunate enough to build personal fortunes should be deprived of them. To take a persons wealth, the profit of their efforts, from them in a disproportionate way discourages initiative.


I don't agree with this at all. Is there no higher reason to strive to succeed than greed? If it wasn't for money, noone would even bother to do anything? No way.

Quote:
Why start and build a business with the idea of accumulating wealth for yourself and family, if it will be taken away to benefit those with less initiative?


Because you want to run a business? The point is in the DOING, not in the results, right? At the end of a long life, the money you've made doesn't mean ****. But a life full of accomplishment and working to build something beautiful would mean everything.

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The government already legislates and constrains how businesses are run so tightly that many small businesses have difficulty in securing any profit.


I'm not so sure about this. You are forgetting the fact that LARGE businesses turn HUGE profits.

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If the business can not produce a profit, then the person who tries to better themselves are ruined and discouraged from starting a new business.


The reality of small business growth in America would seem to challenge this assertion.

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Tax those who produce the wealth too heavily, and they can't afford. Large corporation may be able to afford good compensation packages, but corporations tend to escape taxation though their employees do not.


I'm not sure I understand what you are saying here.

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The government has come to collect significant parts of its revenue from income taxes, and those taxes have increasingly fallen on an ever smaller proportion of the People. Somewhere recently I saw something to the effect that 5% of the People pay over 80% of all the income taxes.


That's because the top 5% of society probably owns 80% of the money and goods in America.

Quote:
That is neither fair, nor is it good public policy.


Sure it is. The people who benefit the most, pay the most. They got there thanks to the hard work of all the men and women who helped prop up this society which ALLOWED them to get there.

Look, if you take someone whose gross income yearly is 10 million dollars, and tax half of that, they MAKE the same as 200 middle-class families. Do they work 200 times as hard? Are they 200 times as important to society? Hell no!

BUT! If you tax them 50%, they STILL are insanely rich, and can buy plenty of cars and boats, houses in the poconos, whatever they want. Boo frickin hoo. You're telling me that people don't still want those things? That they wouldn't work for those things, even if they got taxed heavier than they do now?

The rich have had it too easy, for too long.

Cycloptichorn
Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Einherjar
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2004 04:09 pm
Double Embarrassed
0 Replies
 
Einherjar
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2004 04:09 pm
Asherman wrote:
The traditional role and mission of the military was to conduct combat operations against the military forces of an enemy nation. 20th century conflict was on a large scale, and traditional doctrine in the US was that our military should be capable of fighting in two widely separated theaters. China is large, but the theater would also include Korea, Mongolia, Japan, and other Western Pacific locals. My reference to "mission requirements" was not clear, but I was referring mostly to the the use of the military to break things and kill enemy combatants.


Alright, I guess this might be achievable due to US air superiority.

I guess I consider the possibility of any such major war negligible, I think that any such grand scale conflict would end up in cold war containment.

Quote:
"Equalize or maintain current distribution of spending? Equalising would sort of disturb present trading patterns." I'm not sure I understand your point. The various States within the Union love to have military bases on their soil because they bring a lot of Federal dollars into local economies. Acquiring and keeping military bases within one's State is one of the most traditional "pork barrel" targets of those elected to national office. The result has been the creation and maintainance of many inefficient, costly military installations that disburse the military. That tends to reduce training opportunities, and makes the logistics of deployment more difficult. Efforts to trim military installations back to those that are more cost-effective and necessary have been difficult. My proposal that some effort be made to offset the loss of Federal dollars by funding other programs/projects is intended only to ease the realignment effort. Trade between the States should not be affected at all. Why would offsetting the cost to local economies of base closures have any impact on the trade between, say Main and Montana?


I agree with this. I wasn't quite sure what you meant with

Quote:
To offset the economic loss of base closings, a strong effort to "equalize" military spending among the various States should be attempted.

so I asked.

I understood it to either mean realigning military spending to spend an equal amount of money in each state, which would offset trading patterns, or continuing to spend approximately the same amount of money in the same places, which would not. Now that you have explained what you meant, I agree fully.

Quote:
National Guard and Reserve training needs to be altered by increasing its scope and extent. Both are intended to be "available in considerable numbers if necessary, while cheap to maintain in times of peace." The problem has been that not enough money and effort has been spent to insure that these troops are fully prepared for deployment into the sort of missions that are most likely in the 21st century. While the RA has been revolutionized, the Guard and Reserve are still caught-up in a timelock around 1958. Arms and equipment for these troops are obsolete and often inappropriate to their deployment. The gap between what they should be and what they are needs to be fixed without delay.


I guess we have a difference of opinion regarding what these forces should be, or rather what they are meant to be. I thought these forces were around to maintain a capacity for WWII type warfare. Then it would make sense, from a cost/benefit outlook, not to spend all too much money on training and equipment per person, but to prioritize volume and cost efficiency in terms of resources. Cost efficiency in terms of lives is a luxury which can be afforded for the career military, which should be reformed for the purpose of likely 21 century scenarios, but the state should also maintain the capacity to mobilise great numbers were this to become necessary. The lack of any conscription type backup for their superior but numerically few professional soldiers was perhaps the chief reason for the fall of the roman empire.

Quote:
The military is still far better at combat operations against organizations that are clearly in arms, than it is in the sort of "nation building" missions that have been added in recent times. We are very good at taking out tactical targets and command structures, and we can take, hold and secure any bit of ground necessary. The problem is that our military is, and will be learning for some time, how to be diplomats, firemen, waste treatment operators, and etc. These aren't really appropriate uses of soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors, but they have been added to our tasking. It will take awhile before our military is as good at those efforts as they are at destroying military targets and opposition.


Nothing to add.

Quote:
Yes, we need to be VASTLY superior to any possible opponent if the military is to be a full deterrent. Our nuclear deterrent is only useful against nations with the capacity to use nuclear weapons against our forces, or homeland. We also require "conventional/Special Forces" capable of clear superiority to any force put into the field against the interests of the US, or our allies. Those who are friends and allies today, may be enemies tomorrow, especially if they come to believe that they can win a military conflict against us.


I would think the capacity to contain should be sufficient for the giants such as the Chinese and the Russians. You should be vastly superior to any sort of 'rogue state', and you are. I think nationbuilding is the primary challenge for US troops in the 21 century.

Quote:
Reduction in the amount of private debt would, I believe, improve our economy while reducing the risks to individual lives. Greater savings would provide the capitol for starting new businesses, and provide a hedge against economic downturns and adjustments. The idea that something can be gotten for nothing, that there is no intimate connection between earning and spending, is a dangerous path that far too many Americans have taken. People will spend, but they should not run up their personal debts far beyond what their income can support. I don't suggest that credit be "outlawed", only that the public be encouraged to save more. We need to promote the idea that individuals are responsible and that our personal fortune is in our own hands. Everyone wants to be financially better off, and the way to that goal isn't for the government to take care of us at the expense of others, but for each citizen to work, invest and save toward our own future.


I pretty much agree, I'm just pointing out that a sudden downturn in consumption would leas to businesses going bankrupt, which would lead to less consumption, which would lead to more businesses going bankrupt, and before you know it you have got a recession on your hands. Personally I belive that the US will have to suffer a major recession in order to deal with the trade deficit.

Quote:
If you know a better governmental system than the U.S. Constitution, what is it? Finding and maintaining a balance between the power of society and the individual is a difficult thing to achieve, and few systems have had much success. The U.S. Constitution with its checks and balances makes it difficult for any interest group to hold power for very long, and has generally done a good job of protecting the rights of minorities against majorities. The Constitution encourages interest group competition, and competition between ideas. If you have a government you like, then keep it. I don't expect that there are many Americans who would like to abandon our system of government as defined by the Constitution.


I'll point out a couple of what I see as weaknesses in the American system of government.

Elections of a single individual at a time. While good argument can be made against allowing people in government who have not gotten elected on their own, electing one representative at a time makes things very personal. This contributes greatly to focus public debate on trivialities, diverting attention from genuine issues. In proportional representation type governments debate is focused more upon the issues, and parties can drop individuals who are holding them back, reducing the effect of smears.

The two party system allows powerful lobbies to suppress public debate of their pet issue by exerting pressure on all parties. In proportional representation type governments there will almost always be some small party who bring an issue up, even if it is not very popular among the population.

The personel nature of one on one campaining alows more to be achieved by large sums of cash. Swaying peoples oppinion of the candidates is a lot easier than swaaying their oppinion on the issues. This increases the influence of lobbies.

While I do find the system of constitutional amendments admirable, and wish such a system had been put in place in our own constitution, I prefer our own system in other respects. I think proportional representation systems do a better job at raising issues, focusing on issues, and casting light on all aspects of issues than do US style two party systems. It also denies wealthy interest groups much of the power they have in your system.

I do not think our system is perfect. I'm sure better sustems are operated by some country somewhere, and I'm sure better systems yet have been devised and not implemented. I do prefer our system over yours, though I would support some modifications, and I very much doubt that your system is the best ever devised.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Nov, 2004 10:06 pm
Asherman wrote:
I am a bit surprised that my proposals did not provoke more comment and criticism.

You want comment and criticism? Post something a bit less substantial -- no more than a paragraph or two. Most of the vocal critics who frequent this forum have very short attention spans.

Asherman wrote:
Cycloptitron, your willingness to soak the rich is a popular one. I have at least two objections. First, fairness. How is it fair that one person who earns $200,000/year be taxed at 50% of their income, while another who earns $10,000/year may pay nothing?

Both Cycloptichorn and einherjar have responded ably to this notion of "fairness," so I won't repeat their remarks. I'll just note that, since the rich get the most benefit from the state, it's only fair that they be made to pay a corresponding share for the upkeep and defense of the state.

Asherman wrote:
Democrats since the times of Jefferson and Jackson have catered to the propertyless and poor by advocating redistribution of wealth.

Well, the first national income tax was instituted under a Republican administration, so you may want to revise your thinking on this point.

Asherman wrote:
If a person has wealth the assumption is that they acquired it in some unethical or unlawful way and that they should be deprived of it. If a person is without property or poor, that isn't because they lack initiative, skill, good judgement, or good fortune, but because of some sort of wealthy cabal. The whole view, in my opinion, is anti-democratic and demeaning to all the individuals who make up the People.

For every person who thinks that the wealthy are all crooks there is a person who thinks that the poor are all lazy. The latter view is just as much a strawman argument as the former.

Asherman wrote:
That leads to my second objection to the idea that those who are fortunate enough to build personal fortunes should be deprived of them. To take a persons wealth, the profit of their efforts, from them in a disproportionate way discourages initiative. Why start and build a business with the idea of accumulating wealth for yourself and family, if it will be taken away to benefit those with less initiative?

I have never heard of a single instance where someone decided to make less money because of the tax burden on the additional sums. Even when the highest tax bracket was 94% (1944-45), people were still attempting to make more money, not less. The idea that income taxes thwart initiative is simply not supported by the evidence or by common sense.

Asherman wrote:
The government already legislates and constrains how businesses are run so tightly that many small businesses have difficulty in securing any profit. If the business can not produce a profit, then the person who tries to better themselves are ruined and discouraged from starting a new business. Tax those who produce the wealth too heavily, and they can't afford. Large corporation may be able to afford good compensation packages, ut corporations tend to escape taxation though their employees do not. The government has come to collect significant parts of its revenue from income taxes, and those taxes have increasingly fallen on an ever smaller proportion of the People. Somewhere recently I saw something to the effect that 5% of the People pay over 80% of all the income taxes. That is neither fair, nor is it good public policy.

In 2002, the top 5% of taxpayers paid 53.8% of all income taxes (link). Although higher, that is not significantly different from the tax burden that the top 5% bore during the boom years of the 1990s. Now explain again how that discourages people from making money.
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