These are not meant to be researched items. These are “streams of consciousness” from the conversation yesterday’s post created.
First some housekeeping. I DO NOT like paying taxes. In fact I hate to throw good money after bad and the way our federal government spends money is rarely good. HOWEVER, I think that this country has created unique opportunities for entrepreneurs and paying taxes is a small price to pay. In fact, as I wrote yesterday, I’m proud to pay taxes on the rewards I have EARNED through my efforts in the business world. Taxes are not a bad thing, mis-allocation of the money we all contribute is.
So what can be done? Here you go:
It had been promised often and never delivered. If there was transparency in our budgets and the actual spending of our dollars, down to the nickel. Someone has to see it and approve it. If they can see it, US citizens (with the exception of classified defence spending) should be able to see it. The value of transparency is that we would benefit from the collective brain power of the American people who would be able to provide us in depth education and information.The power of the people at its best. Sure there would be tons of misinformation as people play the traditional partisan games, but I think that websites that take apolitical approaches to the issues will emerge that we could follow.
With complete transparency we could have our own online Super Committee to look for the best places to cut costs and improve efficiency. Without it, we are at the mercy of a “Super Committee” formed purely to make politicians happy.
2. 10 Year Budgets
There is no better example of how politicians lie to themselves and the American people than the fact that our budgets are framed within a 10 year plan. There is no business person on the planet who would think that a 10 year plan would have even a remote possibility of playing out as planned. Yet that is what we use to try to convince our country that we are “taking action ” to cure our problems. Hell, even communist countries have plans that are 5 years long. Any budget plan that is longer than the end of the current POTUS term is basically a crock of shit. You can’t plan what you have no chance of controlling. Any effort to do so is an out and out lie . It’s probably the only truly bi-partisan program that is unanimously agreed upon.
3. Spending Money on Infrastructure/Infrastructure Bank
I was walking a talking head show where an “expert” commented that the Chinese proved out the value of spending on infrastructure. They spent . The economy grew. Correct, but very misleading, but also very informative. Infrastructure spending is VERY BENEFICIAL when the spending creates new commerce opportunities. So in China, when roads were built where there previously had not been a road, thats a good thing. It enables commerce. We have seen it in the US with Dams, Highways, Bridges and more.
With only possibly the enhancement and building of schools, the only infrastructure investment that makes sense is where COMMERCE THAT WAS NOT PREVIOUSLY ABLE IS NOW ENABLED BY NEW INFRASTRUCTURE.
The problem in the USA is that those opportunities are few and far between. We have been there and done that. The BIGGER PROBLEM WITH INFRASTRUCTURE is that in the name of creating jobs we actually inhibit commerce. How ? When we rebuild or expand roads as a way of creating jobs, what happens ? We shut down or reduce the traffic on the roads to be rebuilt. The net effect is that during the construction period we CREATE PROBLEMS rather than solve them. We slow down commutes. Which costs people valuable time (and yes time is still money), wastes gas/oil/energy as we sit in traffic and forces traffic to streets not designed for the additional traffic. Not Good.
The bottom line is that we have to understand the difference between Maintenance and Infrastructure. Infrastructure creates opportunity where there was none. Maintenance gets things back to where they were. You INVEST in infrastructure when you can see a return. You SPEND money on maintenance when you not only have the available funds to do so, but also the ability to withstand the downtime and negative productivity impact that comes with the impact of the maintenance work. Yes there are times when you need maintenance to return to a steady business state (ie your computer is broken), but again those have an obvious return.
Taxes and The Number
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