Assumptions

A great many problems facing the United States today are the result of the unthinking acceptance of various mantras or beliefs by large groups of people.

For example: College is good for everyone. No, it’s not. Post-high-school education or training is generally beneficial, but there are all too many people in college today who don’t belong there, either because their abilities don’t lie in the areas benefitted by college or because they won’t do the work. That doesn’t include students who incur massive debt in obtaining degrees that won’t ever repay those obligations. This assumption also doesn’t take into account that every year twice as many students graduate from college as there are jobs that require a college education.

Ultra-liberal politicians seem to think that the “rich” can and will pay for massive federal programs. Guess again. While the rich underpay taxes massively, the U.S. federal deficit is currently close to a trillion dollars, and that doesn’t include any of the costs of what the far left is proposing. Right now, the top one percent of all taxpayers, some 1.4 million, in total, reported gross income of slightly over $2 trillion and paid $540 billion in taxes [about 27%] If we took 70% of the income of the top one percent, that would amount to $1.4 trillion, leaving, after paying off the deficit, some $400 billion. That sounds like a lot, but it’s not, given what the far left is proposing.

Take free college tuition. Tuition here at the local university is around $8,000 a year, far below that at most state schools. There are currently 20 million undergraduate students in U.S. colleges. That works out to $160 billion annually… Nationally, the average in-state tuition is $10,230, according to the College Board, and at that rate, “free college” will cost over $200 billion a year, and that’s just one program.

The New York Times
asked a number of economists and think tanks to cost out the increased costs of “Medicare for all.” The lowest estimate suggested a $2 trillion increase, the highest $3 trillion. Given that estimates are almost always low for government programs, these costs can’t be paid by just the top one percent of taxpayers, or even the top ten percent.

And we’re not even talking about our overwhelmed immigration system or our underfunded schools or our crumbling infrastructure.

Nor our National Park System, which doesn’t have the funds to repair everything and is operating with roughly 20% fewer rangers at a time when visitor numbers are higher than ever.

But everything will be all right once we really tax the rich.

7 thoughts on “Assumptions”

  1. Tom says:

    Given that most citizens of any nation are too busy trying to make their lives as comfortable as possible and thus they do not take the time or they do not have the time, to study the local and national politics which supply these assumptions.

    How can a politician get elected if they expose these false assumptions?

    How can politicians govern a nation financially in a practical manner (meaning with-in the nation’s means) when the citizens run their lives on credit and do not fear bankruptcy?

    How can we, the voters, change our national political system when one party insists on impractical socialism and the other insists on robber baronism?

    A recent Economist had an article about the world probably changing to a Multipolar Economy, replacing the dying Globalization (unfortunately basing the discussion on The Putney Debates following Cromwell’s rebellion and the associated rise and disappearance of the Levellers). So we have some idea of future national challenges; but with the same actors playing a similar game in a different venue we will get the same result.

    Given your insider experience of the US Government; are there practical political answers to these questions? Or do we continue our political science discourse ie. spin our wheels?

    1. There are “practical” and workable answers to these questions and issues… but only if people are willing to compromise. I did spend almost twenty years in politics and Washington, and the answer doesn’t lie there. Washington responds; it doesn’t lead. The answer lies in every community and interest group not being so inflexible. I keep raising the point, in one way or another, in what I write that extremism doesn’t work over any length of time. The problem is that most extremists don’t think that they are, and they tend to think that way because the “communications revolution” allows them to avoid other points of view… and to be exposed enough to other people to see and feel their problems and pain.

  2. Frank says:

    Agreed, as to issues having practical answers…most of which require compromise and the willingness to listen to other points of view and negotiating a workable answer that makes things “better,” if not always perfect.

    And while I certainly agree that Washington doesn’t lead, but responds, I have a question: don’t you think that at some point in the not too distant past, Washington did lead at least in foreign policy, if no where else? I guess my point is whether you think the current condition of our non-functional government is a permanent condition, or one that was achieved through years polarizing politics coupled with the loss of civility?

    BTW – Happy 4th of July to you and all your readers.

    1. I think our current condition is the result of the interaction of the “communications revolution” and the commodification of everything. I’ll explain shortly in a blog.

  3. Tim says:

    In the UK, the Government is formed from elected members of Parliament from the majority party or (fortunately rarely – a coalition of parties) yet in the US your Government appears to be formed by the President separately – including bringing in family members. Does this not isolate the Government?

    1. In the case of this President, it definitely does. In most previous governments, a fair number of Cabinet officials had party ties and quite a few came from Congress, either immediately or were former members. Even in Trump’s administration there are a few, but they come from the far right fringe of the GOP.

  4. Daze says:

    In the light of this, it’s interesting to note that the Julia Gillard government in Australia, which was in a minority in both houses of parliament and needed to compromise and negotiate details of any legislation with multiple cross-benchers, managed to pass more legislation than almost any other government before or since in its three year term.

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