Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capitals, posted this on his blog…it’s interesting reading about his ideas for the economy. You can visit his blog here.
I was recently asked by someone close to the new administration what I would do to jump start our economy and what “out of the box” programs I would implement to help make America great again. I warned this person that what I would have to say wouldn’t be “sweet nothings” and that I believed that we needed to take our medicine and admit defeat and to get real about our problems and some solutions to get us positioned well for the mid and long term. There were no short term solutions because our problems were that deep rooted. I also knew that no politician would ever risk his reelection by suggesting or implementing tough love on our populace but I honestly think that is what is needed.
So, in a nutshell, my 10 crazy ideas not for the timid and I know these ideas will challenge people and get some folks really angry so I apologize in advance:
Make retirement age 70 not 65. Social security benefits are killing our nation. We can’t afford it. People are living longer and retiring earlier. We should make people work and be productive and pay taxes for a longer period of time – heresy I know – but truthful and needed. We need more productivity from all of our workers, 70 is the new 60 anyway. Who said 65 years of age was a retirement birthright anyway? This will save hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars.
No Medicare or health benefits to people over 85. My dad died at 94 years of age. The majority of the expenses racked up for his Medicaid benefit were from 92 to 94 years of age. People are living longer and using very expensive technology to squeeze a few more years of life for the elderly is a luxury we cannot afford. In the last 50 years or so, we have seen a 10 year added longevity curve just in men and it will soon reach 80 years of age. Our technology and medicines will keep us living longer but the really elderly shouldn’t be eating up an over indexed amount of our health costs that young people pay for. This will save hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. This will help us save on social security costs as well.
Mandatory service. All graduating students from college MUST serve in a public service position for two to three years. The Government will pay them a stipend of which 25 percent of all payments go into a mandatory savings plan or the parents’ mandatory savings plan. All college debts must be paid off via the service career and after two to three years, the students can go into the world with real world experience with no debts and with cash savings in the bank. The students should all work in positions with the police; fire departments; hospitals; military; Peace Corps, etc. Help us to rebuild our infra-structure or educational systems. This move will help rebuild a sense of community and teach young adults the power of having no debt and of having savings in the bank. And it will also inject a higher sense of purpose into our young adults.
No tax cuts for the middle class or wealthy for four years. We should focus all of our energies and dollars to lift the poorest of the poor out of poverty. That should be our priority. The poorest of the poor need the help immediately and in all of our budgets, they receive less than 15 percent of all dollars. I would cut the overall budgets but amp up dollars to the ones that need it most. This could save us hundreds of billions of dollars and get more equality into the system; cut waste; and really help those who need it.
Tax cuts in the form of a government grant to a savings account. All other forms of tax cuts would go via check into a mandatory savings account that is established for each American household and placed in an FDIC-insured bank. If we stimulate consumer savings, banks will have money to loan to people and we won’t have to borrow money from other nations. I was amazed that the stimulus checks that were last sent were aimed at people going to a mall and using credit cards to charge up more stuff. We need to keep dollars in our own savings accounts. The government should make savings a mandatory program for each and every household. We will save hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments to foreign nations if we have more savings in US based banks.
Less technology for our military. Technology is hyper expensive to maintain and keep relevant and it allows us to save lives because we send machines to do the work of people. If more people’s lives were at stake in a skirmish or war, our leaders would think twice about sending young Americans to fight for us. We have become so automated and high tech that our bills are astronomical and our trigger fingers are too easily placed on the wrong buttons. Slow down the technology spending for awhile and add more people to the service. It will create jobs, cut costs and make us more concerned about a policing action overseas. This will save us more than $100 billion and the world will be safer.
Stop acting like we are a super world power when we are the biggest debtor in the world. Never in history has a country that owed so much money to foreign governments been seen as a super power. In fact, debtor nations are seen and weak and ineffective and non-aspirational. I would find a way to get some payback from countries, too, that we had helped and were now flourishing. I would stop acting like a worldwide police force or, if I was, I would charge a fee to help. There has got to be a way for Iraq to pay us back for our work and sacrifice in freeing the country from tyranny and oppression. We have sunk literally hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars into their economy and the war and lost lives and shed blood. What is the payback? I would make our government adhere to the same regulations that companies have to do now in terms of market to market accounting and disclosures and to a Sarbanes-Oxley-like contract between government spending and budgeting. Why should a company be regulated when the government isn’t as it pertains to balance sheets and income statements and fiscal transparency? And isn’t it ironic that Communist countries now have better economies than ours? We need to face facts and stop being a debtor nation and become a savings-based economy.
We need to birth more children. People are living longer and, at the same time, we are having fewer children. At some point soon we will flip and we will have less people being born than are dying off. This is a real problem. It means no growth of populace and productivity will decrease and we will be an old and decrepit nation. We need to celebrate children. We need to reward marriages with tax breaks. We need to reward people having more children. Guess who is the most productive nation on earth now? China. Why? They have all of the manpower and know how to manufacture goods. We need to birth more children to keep the country and economy growing and we need to create programs that shed light on the power of marriage and dual family households. Divorce and single family households are big drivers of poverty and issues for our country. We need to embrace true family values because it has an economic underpinning for our nation besides all of the goodness that comes from a true family environment.
We need to refocus our schools and business schools onto “making stuff” on manufacturing. Our best and brightest should be going into the tech sectors or to Detroit or innovating to ship overseas our green tech. We need to stop graduating people who want to work on Wall Street and think our business is about dollars and esoteric financial instruments. The government should pay for students to go into math – engineering, technology and manufacturing -and no scholarships for Wall Street-oriented positions. We need to be the best manufacturers of cars and appliances and household goods and computers and network systems in the world. When a company buys from the US based partners, they should get a tax break. Keeping our dollars here and not sending them overseas will create an economic stimulus that is beyond our wildest dreams. Once Detroit is reinvented to make hybrid and electric cars and we don’t need to buy foreign oil, our air will be cleaner; our debt will be smaller; and we will save trillions of dollars. It is absolute madness that we borrow a trillion dollars from China and Japan so we can then send it over to OPEC nations to get their oil. Stop that madness.
Government communications. The Government should do a mini-bailout for certain media companies and all newspapers. Traditional media is soon to go out of business. The Government should help prop up these institutions and in payback, all political media should be free. This way politicians won’t be so focused on fundraising and they can have the inventory to tell us what the content of their programs are and the media titans can try to be honest brokers to report on what is really happening. We need a thriving media to keep the process honest and working. The system is broken now. We give dollars to politicians who promise us the world. The politicians then give the monies to media companies to help them broadcast their message in a sound bite “No new taxes” so they can get elected or re-elected. The politicians are then in league with the donors. Let us just short circuit this craziness and have a real platform for communications and keep an independent media business thriving. It would make a lot of sense. If we are helping the banks and soon the car companies, we might as well help the media companies too and in return politicians will get free air time and space and we will be more informed consumers.
So there you go, ten out of the box crazy ideas. Many would work and help us. They would be short term unpopular but would work in the long term and we would leave a better world and a safer world to the next generation.