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Long experience as a scientist has taught me this about human nature: Generally, people go about their work optimistically looking forward, but rarely, if ever, looking questioningly at circumstances of the past that set them upon the path of their present activity. In the case of U. S. Government involvement, laws and bureaucratic regulations tend to lock-in-place processes and procedures that not only may no longer be efficacious, but may in fact be deleterious. For example, I described the trivialization and corruption of American science that has been the direct consequence of government science-funding agencies, e.g., NSF and NASA, using secret reviews by competitors as a basis for making science-funding decisions. (http://www.bestthinking.com/articles/science/earth_and_ocean_science/corruption-of-science-in-america)
After looking back in time and asking, “What’s wrong with this picture?”, I proffer a suggestion for fundamental change in American governance that, I believe, will vastly cut waste and corruption.
Two hundred years ago, the U. S. Government spent just 20.8 million dollars. That budget was not too large to be understood and managed by the 175 individuals comprising the U. S. Congress of 1812. But now, while the Congressional Membership has only increased three fold, U. S. Government expenditures have increased more than 300,000 fold, to an amount in excess of 6,000,000 million dollars. That amount, I submit, is too great to be understood and managed judiciously by the 535 individuals that comprise the current Congressional Membership.
Rather than allowing the U. S. Congress alone to make decisions on how our tax dollars should be spent. I propose that the governance should be changed to permit individual taxpayers to designate specifically how their own taxes should be spent and not spent. Generally, individuals are good stewards of their hard earned money and spend it wisely; otherwise, they soon would be impoverished. One might envision a future with totally secure Internet access that would make it possible for individuals to perform detailed allocations of their own taxes. In the meantime, though, to a limited extent allocations could be made on income tax filings; there is already the precedent on the IRS 1040 form for stipulating money for “Presidential Election Campaign”.
From a pragmatic standpoint, the proposal I am making could be phased in gradually and would be voluntary. Those so choosing would be able to participate directly to the extent of their tax payments and thus exercise a new level of civic responsibility. Moreover, those participating would derive further benefit by specifying that their tax payments would not be used contrary to their own moral values or toward activities they considered financially unsound. Over time, the aggregate of taxpayer-specified funding and non-funding will serve as a reference standard by which to measure the relative success or failure of the present system.
I was thinking: "Are you serious?" But I realized this is an actual article, so, unless there is some clown writing it, it must be serious. Well, then, that settles it as a "serious idea" for the U.S. budget. Let me tell you, though, I couldn't tell anyone how to spend (smartly) a $1,000 budget. How could I pretend to advise the government on how to spend my taxes? MAAAAYBE, I can vote between a few choices. My 9 year old daughter has some really um, neat? ideas...
But would you really want a few hundred thousand hustlers, swindlers, gamblers, irresponsible citizens, and other kinds of clowns choosing how to spend our tax money? Wait a minute... I would just rather know they were the elected ones!
Great article! This line of yours is really outstanding... "Generally, individuals are good stewards of their hard earned money and spend it wisely; otherwise, they soon would be impoverished." I've had the same thought for so long...but never articulated it as well as you have.
Giving taxpayers the freedom to choose where their taxes go is really the best idea. One technical difficultly though is that it's not easy to find via a google search. So I took the liberty of giving this concept a google friendly label..."pragmatarianism"...but I also refer to it as "tax choice". If you get a chance you should check out the Wikpedia entry on tax choice.
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About the Author
J. Marvin Herndon
President, Transdyne Corporation, Ph.D.-nuclear chemistry, post-doctoral-geochemistry and cosmochemistry, noted for: nickel silicide inner c
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SAN DIEGO, March 23, 2010 – For decades, an unsuspected geological blunder has limited crucial technical understanding of how, where and why petroleum and natural gas deposits form. Exposing and correcting that vital mistake offers the promise of new insights and potentially vast new...
From a pragmatic standpoint, the proposal I am making could be phased in gradually and would be voluntary. Those so choosing would be able to participate directly to the extent of their tax payments and thus exercise a new level of civic responsibility.
The purpose of science is to discover the true nature of Earth and Universe and convey that knowledge truthfully to people everywhere. Beneath the surface lies a system which has been corrupted and evolved to support a ‘politically correct’ consensus ¬view, while stifling challenges by individuals.
Can a major government self-appraisal really be objective? One independent scientist’s critique shows what’s wrong with peer review and how to fix it. But does anyone pay attention?