Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rod Blagovich - a symptom, not a disease

Rod Blagovich, former Illinois governor, was convicted of trying to sell the former senate seat of The Teleprompter Jesus to the highest bidder.  There was plenty of other stuff involved, but that was my favorite of the indictments. 

He's the 4th Illinois governor (see: Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, and George Ryan) to be sent down the river in about 35 years

So why do people want to keep giving more money and power and responsibility to politicians? 

It costs far, far more to win the election than the job pays.  In return for their contributions, most supporters of a candidate are going to be wanting far more than they've contributed. 

What results are we expecting?  Who are these angels that we apparently believe are going to flap down into these roles and govern honestly after spending millions to get a job that pays in thousands? 

The only solution to this problem, IMAO, is based on libertarian principles:

1) Institute a Flat Tax, with no exceptions for saving the environment, employing more people, growing wheat for ethanol, or saving the whales.  Anyone granting a tax break to a constituent can be assumed to be corrupt, and gets to go live with the Illinois governors. 

2) Shrink the size of government to the size of an infant dachshund.  They're going to spend about two billion on the next presidential election campaign.  Why?  Because it's worth it. 
If the government were to be involved in roads, infrastructure, the court system, defending the borders, and nothing else, (see: U.S. Constitution) the opportunities for graft would shrink exponentially.
Any politician wanting to get the government involved in activities in which government sucks (education, energy, housing, literacy, nutrition, changing the weather, etc.) can be assumed to be corrupt, and gets to go live with the Illinois governors.   

3) There is no #3. 

4 comments:

Nick said...

I agree with a proportional tax rate, but I think there should be an exclusion of some fixed dollar amount for everyone, say, half the median wage. We at least have to acknowledge that some expenses are not optional.

The next question, though, is what marginal tax rate we must have. My effective federal tax rate is 12.7 percent. I imagine that a tax sufficient to pay for all Constitutionally authorized expenses would lead to a higher tax rate - say, 15%.

This would be OK with me if states were forced to make their tax rates flat and low too. I also wouldn't mind paying more taxes if I knew that every extra dollar was paying down our debt with no ability to incur more liabilities.

I'd also demand a complete privatization of Social Security so that 12.4% of my income belonged to ME. I'd even accept 10% and let the 2.4% pay to support the indigent elderly who, through no fault of their own, cannot support themselves.

That's not to say there aren't circumstances when the nation shouldn't have some debt. But it should be small, infrequent, and unusual.

I'm not sure what we do with Medicare. Insurance companies have no incentive to keep you on as you get older. There would have to be some clause that if you are accepted for insurance when you are young, they must keep you for life. Then, premiums would adjust based on expected lifetime of care, rather than the expected cost of a claim today.

Premiums would be higher for the young, but presumably they would see the benefit of locking in health care now for their entire lives. A personal mandate may be the only economically feasible method of ensuring insurance, but that's also the least Constitutional.

Dr Ralph said...

One of the many lost treasures of my youth is my Illinois driver's license, which was affixed with then Ill. Secretary of State Paul Powell's signature.

The late Mr. Powell's chief claim to fame was that he left an estate worth more than $2 million—$800,000 of it in bills packed into shoe boxes, briefcases and strongboxes in the closet of his hotel suite in Springfield. He was paid $30,000 a year.

Mr. Powell is reputed to have said, "There's only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that's a broke one."

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Yeah, you gotta love them. Dr., we're glad that you made it down south to Texas.
In related news, Dr. Ralph's offspring is interviewing with my employer today. Hope it works out !!

Dr Ralph said...

The idea of a flat tax is appealing, but like other appealing but simplistic notions, such as "all you need is love," the devil's in the details. There seems to be no single, agreed upon definition of what constitutes a "flat tax," not to mention defining when income has occurred.

Straight flat rate? Marginal flat tax? Flat tax with "some" deduction? Based on consumption? Milton Friedman's negative income tax? Are corporations taxed? What about investment income?

Who decides?

Because once the lawyers and accountants get involved, the fix is on.

On a personal note, I'm hoping you'll get the opportunity to corrupt the youngest offspring!