Solution II for America: Term-Limits and More!

November 23rd, 2012
in Op Ed, syndication

by Frank Li

No real cure is possible before an accurate diagnosis is made. I believe I have the most accurate diagnosis for America, as well as the best solution. In my post last week, I presented my diagnosis for America. Here, I will present my solution. But first, let me briefly defend my diagnosis.

Follow up:

1. In defense of my diagnosis

Here are two main arguments against my diagnosis:

  1. Our political system is fine. We just need to elect the right people.

  2. Our biggest problem is excessive spending. If we can just stop that, we will be fine.

Let's dispel these two arguments.

1.1 Why can't we just elect the right people?

Most people we elect are "right." It's the system that turns them "wrong"! Here is an extreme example: Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling to $9T in 2006, which he labelled "unpatriotic". But under President Obama, our national debt has ballooned to over $16T!

1.2 Can't we just stop excessive spending?

No, we can't - it's inherent to our system, regardless of the party in charge! Simply put, the Democrats are for "tax & spend", while the Republicans are "strong on defense", which means "wars, borrow & spend". As a result, we are $16T in debt, and rising rapidly!


2. My solution

Constitutional changes!

Specifically, here are three main changes absolutely necessary:

  1. Limiting the American Presidency to one-term (e.g. six years). America can simply no longer afford to have a President who, throughout his first term, works solely towards his own re-election!

  2. Raising the statutory requirements for the American Presidency, such as the minimum age to 55 and only after having served as a state governor for one full-term, at least. America can simply no longer afford to have a President who is inadequately prepared for the top job in America!

  3. Introducing strict term-limits for Congress, preferably one-term (e.g. six years) as well. America can simply no longer afford to have Americans keep sending career politicians back to Congress as their representatives, who, as a whole, have garnered an approval rate of only 13% (87% in US disapprove of Congress)!

2.1 The first principle

2.2 Assumptions

My solution is based on two big assumptions:

  1. A country must be run like a business, just like a family, or it will go bankrupt.

  2. It's simply nonsense to argue that America is not like a business or family, because the U.S. government can always print money. Printing money can be very damaging, not the least of which is rampant inflation! More on this later.

Because there is little pure democracy in a well-run business or family, there should be little pure democracy in a well-run country! Now, you might argue why democracy worked for us before? Democracy seemed to have worked for us until recently because we, as the richest nation on earth, could afford it. While we enjoyed all kinds of "luxury" (e.g. entitlements and various missions to save the world), the rest of the world figured out their own ways of success, with Japan shaking us first in the 1980s and now China.

Still unconvinced? Just recall what happened to America's auto industry: It had its own monopoly for many years until better competition from Japan showed up. Soon America's auto industry was driven to bankruptcy! The same applies to the political systems: China's political system appears to be slightly better than America's. China, unlike Japan, has both the size and weight to truly compete with America.

In a competitive world today, all that a hiker needs to do, when chased by a hungry grizzly, is to run a bit faster than the other hiker!

2.3 Three propositions

  1. Do not hate our competitors because they are better - Just become better ourselves! Oh, do other people on earth have the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as Americans do? I assume your answer is “yes”.

  2. Do not hate China. It took China a long time (yes, centuries) to discover its own route to success, and it finally did - Good for the Chinese!

  3. Recognize that our political system, largely unchanged over the past 200 years, is obsolete. It's time to have it updated, if not over-hauled. No doubt, our founding fathers were smart men. But no human being could have been so foresighted as to see more than 200 years ahead!

2.4 More details on the solution

We need to introduce some elements of autocracy into our democracy, which means to run our country like a gigantic company, with a structure as follows:

  1. The CEO (or President) runs the daily show.

  2. The board of directors (or Senate) oversees the directions.

  3. The shareholders (or House of Representatives) revolt only after some grave mistakes are made.

It should be better than China's system, with fairer representations, because of our long history of democracy.

Specifically, here are 10-point details:

  1. Setting term limits for the top elected offices:

    • President: One term (e.g. six years), firm!

    • Senator: Six years per term. One term, preferably.

    • House of Representatives: Six years per term. One term, preferably.

  2. Raising the statutory requirements for the Presidency, such as the minimum age of 55 and having served as a state governor for one full-term, at least.

  3. Abolishing the Electoral College! Just count votes, instead!

  4. Spending must be controlled!

    • Limiting spending to a certain percentage of the GDP (e.g. 15%).

    • The budget must be balanced. If there is potential of growth, some deficit is allowed. However, always figure out how to pay for it first before introducing any new big spending program.

    • Cutting the defense spending drastically. If not, we will soon have no country left to defend!

  5. Minimizing the government, with the understanding that government does not create real jobs in quantity. The private sector does!

  6. Dissolving all public-sector unions immediately and banning them forever, with an executive order to undo President Kennedy's Executive Order 10988.

  7. Reforming Social Security and Medicare. Abolishing all entitlement programs (e.g. Medicaid) and replacing them with a minimal welfare system. Bottom line: No one should be better off on welfare than they are by working! To be more specific, the welfare benefit must not exceed half of the minimum wage!

  8. Simplifying everything, from laws to tax codes, so as to reduce the number of lawyers and accountants. Most importantly, you don't have to be a lawyer to run for office.

  9. Yes, a voter ID is a must, just like driving or drinking!

  10. Raising the minimum voting age to 21, so that voting is at least as important as drinking!


3. In defense of my solution

Here are two main arguments against my solution:

  1. Term-limits for Congress? It's already there - Just stop electing the incumbents if you don't like them!

  2. Debts? What debts? The U.S. government can print money, any time it wants and for as much as it wants.

Let's dispel these two arguments.

3.1 Term-limits for Congress

We must have explicit term-limits for Congress! Here is the cruel reality: aside from serving for themselves because of this "getting re-elected ad nauseam" thing, the incumbents have so many advantages over challengers that most of them keep getting re-elected. More worrisome, most Americans like their own members of Congress, because they bring "pork" back. What's pork? It's often a "steal" from the public treasury!

Here is a valid argument: it takes a newly elected member of Congress quite some time to learn the job. Here is the solution:

  1. Abolishing all the committees in Congress! Let the executive branch run the country!

  2. Simplifying our system, from tax codes to accounting, so that you do not have to be a lawyer to serve.

  3. Prolonging the term for House from two years currently to six years, for example.

3.2 Printing money

It's true that the U.S. government can print money and has been printing money in large quantity, because the U.S. dollar is fiat money.

However, anybody who thinks printing money is a real solution must be insane. Two reasons:

  1. Domestically, printing money means money devaluation, which has a lot of implications, not the least of which is rampant inflation.

  2. Internationally, the Chinese know what fiat money is, as they invented it more than 1000 years ago. They will therefore do everything possible to protect their "foreign investments". Specifically, here are three projections:

    1. By 2014, China will surpass the U.S. as the largest importer on earth, on top of the fact that China is already the largest exporter. China will be able to dictate that trading with them be done in China's RMB, instead of the US dollar.

    2. By 2016, RMB will practically, if not officially, become an alternative reserve currency to the US dollar. It may even replace the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency!

    3. By 2020, we will have printed so much money that few major economies will buy U.S. treasury bills any more. We may have to (1) accept RMB from China in order to sell them some Boeing 787s and (2) use RMB to buy goods from China. As a result, everything in Wal-Mart will be 10 times more expensive!

For a recent development, read: Is the Yuan About to Replace the Dollar as the World's Reserve Currency?

4. A big note on democracy

Democracy is not new. It was practiced by Rome and Greece more than 2,000 years ago. Both failed for the same reason: debts! Both were replaced by dictatorship. Will that be the fate for the western democracy today? Yes, most likely!


5. Closing

Human legacy includes a history of leadership changing hands. Rome, Egypt, China, and Britain all had their day in the sun. We, the USA, are having our own now. But our days are clearly numbered, if we keep sleeping on our 200-year-old political system and keep resisting changes. Or we can change, fundamentally and big. China did it. Why can’t we?

Winston Churchill once said: “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

Now, China has a newer and better system. Let’s get better, too!

Other Posts by this Author

opinion blog


About this Author


Frank LiFrank Li is the Founder and President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2005, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the scale industry not only in products & services, but also in thought & action.

Dr. Li writes extensively and uniquely on politics, for which he has been called "a modern-day Thomas Jefferson" (see page 31).



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