Written by Frank Li
I believe I have the most accurate diagnosis for America, as well as the best solution. In a previous post (Diagnosis for America (Version 3)), I presented my diagnosis. In this post, I will present the solution. But first, let me briefly defend my diagnosis: self-serving career politicians who work for one paramount purpose: getting re-elected ad nauseam.
1. In defense of my diagnosis
Two possible arguments against my diagnosis:
- Our political system is fine. We just need to elect the right people.
- Our biggest problem is excessive spending. If we can just stop that, we will be fine.
Let’s dispel them both.
1.1 Why can’t we just elect the right people?
Most people we elect are “right,” at least when they are elected the first time. It’s the system that turns them “wrong”! Here is an extreme example: in 2006, Senator Obama correctly voted against raising the debt ceiling to $9 trillion, which he labeled “unpatriotic”. But under President Obama, our national debt has ballooned to over $18 trillion, and counting!
1.2 Can’t we just stop excessive spending?
No, we can’t – It’s inherent in our political system, regardless of the party in charge! Simply put, Democrats are for “entitlements, tax, borrow, and spend”, while Republicans are “strong on defense”, which means “wars, tax, borrow, and spend”.
As a result, we are already over $18 trillion in debt, rising rapidly!
2. My solution
Constitutional changes! Specifically, here are three absolutely essential, major changes:
- 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!
- 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!
- Introducing strict term limits for Congress, preferably one term (e.g. six years) as well. America can simply no longer afford to have career politicians in Congress, who currently have a 12% approval rate, emptying the public treasury solely for their own re-election and personal benefits.
2.1 The first principle
2.2 Two assumptions
- For long-term success, a country must be run like a business, just like a family, or it will go bankrupt. For more, read: A Country Must Be Run Like A Business.
- It’s nonsensical to argue that America is not like a business or family, due to our government’s ability to print money. Massively printing money can cause severe damage, such as rampant inflation! More on this later.
Because there is little true democracy (i.e. one person, one vote) in a well-run business or family, there should be little 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 military missions to save the world), the rest of the world figured out their own paths to 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 serious, true competition from Japan appeared. 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 strength to fully compete with America.
In a 2-hiker situation, all one hiker needs to do, when chased by a hungry grizzly, is to run a bit faster than the other hiker!
2.3 Three propositions
- Do not hate our competitors because they are better – just improve ourselves! More profoundly, do other people on earth have the same rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as Americans do? Your answer is “yes”, presumably.
- Do not hate China. It took China a long time (yes, centuries) to discover its own route to success from hell, and it finally did – good for the Chinese!
- Recognize that our political system, largely unchanged over the past 200 years, is seriously out of date. It’s time to update, if not over-haul, it! No doubt, our Founding Fathers were smart men. But no human being could have been so foresighted as to see everything 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:
- The President runs the daily show.
- The board of directors (or Senate) oversees the direction.
- The shareholders (or House of Representatives) intercede only after grave mistakes are made.
More specifically, here are 10-point details:
- Setting term limits for the top political offices:
- President: One term (e.g. six years), firm!
- Senator: Six years per term. One term, preferably. No more than two!
- House members: Six years per term. One term, preferably. No more than two!
- The Supreme Court: Two terms for justices. Six years per term. Adding a mandatory retirement age of 70.
- Raising the statutory requirements for the Presidency, such as the minimum age to 55 and only after having served as a state governor for one full-term, at least.
- While in office, the President must not participate in any partisan event (e.g. fund-raising), so as to be the President of the country, not of any party!
- Dissolving all public-sector unions immediately and banning them forever, with an executive order to undo President Kennedy’s Executive Order 10988.
- Cutting the defense spending drastically. If not, we will soon have no country left to defend! Note that our military budget today is bigger than the next 16 countries, combined!
- Spending must be controlled!
- Limiting spending to a certain percentage of the GDP (e.g. 15%).
- The budget must be balanced. If there is growth potential, some deficit is allowed. However, always provide for payment for it before introducing any new spending program.
- Minimizing the government, with the understanding that government does not create real jobs in quantity. The private sector does!
- Reforming Social Security and Medicare. Abolishing all entitlement programs (e.g. Medicaid) and replacing them with a minimal safety net. Bottom line: No one should be better off on welfare than they are by working!
- Simplifying everything, from laws to the tax code, so as to reduce the number of lawyers and accountants. Most importantly, you don’t have to be a lawyer to run for office.
- A voter ID is a must, just like driving or drinking!
- Raising the minimum voting age to 21, so that voting is at least as important as drinking!
- Abolishing the Electoral College – Just count votes, instead!
3. In defense of my solution
Two possible arguments against my solution:
- Term limits for Congress? It’s already there – just stop electing the incumbents if you don’t like them!
- 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!
The cruel reality is that 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 home the “pork”. What’s pork? It’s often pure theft 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:
- Abolishing all the committees in Congress! Let the executive branch run the country!
- Simplifying our system, from laws to the tax code, so that you do not have to be a lawyer to serve.
- 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. Domestically, printing money means money devaluation, which has many implications, not the least of which is rampant inflation. Internationally, it could be even more terrible. For example, the Chinese know what fiat money is, as they invented it more than 1,000 years ago. They will therefore do everything possible to protect their “foreign investments”. Specifically, here are my three projections:
- By 2016, China will surpass America as the largest importer on earth, on top of the fact that China is already the largest exporter. China will soon be able to dictate that trading with China be done in China’s RMB, instead of the U.S. Dollar.
- By 2025, RMB will practically, if not officially, become an alternative reserve currency to the U.S. Dollar. It will eventually replace the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency!
- By 2030, we will have printed so much money that few major economies will buy U.S. treasury bills any more. We may have to accept RMB from China in order to sell them some Boeing 787s and use RMB to buy goods from China. As a result, everything in Wal-Mart will be three times more expensive!
For more, read: Money and America.
Human legacy includes a history of leadership changing hands. Egypt, Rome, China, and Britain all had their day in the sun. We, America, 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?
Mr. Churchill was right about democracy a few decades ago. But things have greatly changed since then. China has a newer system which appears to be slightly better than ours. For more, read: Towards an Ideal Form of Government.
Capitalism has proven to be the best thing that has ever happened to mankind. Capitalism creates unprecedented prosperity wherever it is allowed, even in “Communist China” (“Communist China”, Really?)!
More specifically, it was capitalism that propelled the West ahead of China about 200 years ago (America: What is China, Anyway?). It is capitalism that has got some 600 million Chinese out of abject poverty over the past three decades! It is “state capitalism” in China that will win the head-on competition against American democracy, which destroys capitalism!
America, reform our political system as I have suggested, or become an also-ran, second to China!
More than 200 years ago, it took several elites (aka “the Founding Fathers”) to write the U.S. Constitution. It’s time to repeat it!
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