Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fixing the United States

As everyone has seen lately, the United States system of politics is broken. It hasn't functioned the way it was intended to function since World War II. While I was in the shower today, I was thinking of ways that we could get the people back into the government, and mitigate the role of Lobbyist money and power in the House and Senate. (Doesn't everyone think about these types of things in the shower?)My lightbulb moment occurred with this idea. Why don't we give the power back to the people paying the taxes?

Not all of it, of course. (Because the last thing I want to see is Tax Funded "Honey Boo Boo for President") What if we set up a system that allowed the people to allocate up to 10% of their annual taxes to non-profits or issues they care about? Imagine a world where women could directly fund Planned Parenthood with their tax dollars. The Right could fund their Church Outreach (soup kitchens, aid to patrons that can't afford cost of living, etc) and the Left could fund the Arts, Education, Science. This could simplify tax code by eliminating loopholes and potentially allowing a flat tax to work because those that are rich would be allowed to allocate their tax dollars (that would typically hedge in charitable contributions and Cayman Island accounts) to social programs and the greater good of the community.

Best part would be, we could make this all entirely transparent. Imagine schools getting new classrooms, with emails going out to those that funded the project via their tax dollars, thanking them for taking care of the welfare of the students. Imagine being able to give your kids teachers a little bonus because they go above and beyond the call of a teacher and actually encourage your children to think instead of just memorize facts. What would it be like to be able to see who all would donate to social programs and indulge in the Arts or preservation of our National Parks? Sure there would be those that would be greedy and donate to programs they take advantage of, but donating only 10% allows us a checks and balances approach to limiting the self serving purposes of these donations. There would likely need to be restrictions, such as you can't donate to something you have direct control of funds distribution in. In addition, you'd need protections to make sure that companies didn't extort donations from their workers. The possibility for corruption is there, but it would be much more evident than our current method of tax deductions,

These donations could be analyzed by politicians to allow a true reading of what the people want taxes funding. I can't even comprehend how much easier their job would be if the people had made the decisions as to what their 10% would fund, and that they would simply have to fill in the rest of the budget to cover the necessities. This would guarantee funding to social programs that matter, and indicate the projects that really don't deserve funding in the first place.

Of course, this is only a rough drafting of what would need to be put in place. The main benefits would be to allocate the funds as the people would see fit, and allow the politicians to view what the people deem important and further fund those projects, while filling in the gaps to maintain the necessities. We can think of this as a streamlining of the tax and funding systems, and restoring the power to the people.