Article in Politics / Taxation
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.
 
 
 

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.

 

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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

Recent Content by J. Marvin Herndon

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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.

Corruption of Science in America

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