Rising from my brief nap I am a little fuzzy so I will take on a rather simple issue: the dollar coin. Most countries that I have visited have one, two and even five dollar (equivalent) coins. The reason for this is quite simple. Paper money wears out many times faster than coins and who wants to carry a wad of paper singles in their pocket? In my youth we called this a “Michigan bankroll”… a big wad of bills, all singles. The US has made several attempts at introducing a dollar coin: the Susan B. Anthony dollar, the Sacagawea dollar and now the Presidential dollar. [Not to mention the Eisenhower dollar (1971-1978), Peace dollar (1921-1935), Morgan dollar (1878-1904; 1921), Trade Dollar (1873-1885), Gold dollar coins (1849-1889), Seated Liberty dollar (1836-1873), The 1804 dollar, and the silver dollar coins from 1794 to 1803. This dollar coin business is a failure more than 200 years in the making. –ed.] All have failed for one simple reason: the government refuses to simultaneously remove the paper dollar from circulation.
Several years ago the Canadian government introduced the two-dollar coin (the one dollar coin, having the image of a Common Loon on the back side is often called the “Loonie”; similarly, the two dollar coin is fondly referred to as the “Twonie”). The banks pulled all paper two-dollar notes out of circulation when they came in and within two weeks all the paper notes were gone. I’d immediately have the Treasury stamp out millions of one-dollar coins and have the banks pull the paper bills. While I’m at it, I’d have them create a two-dollar coin. Maybe the Bill Clinton coin?
The War on Drugs: Started during the Nixon Administration in the ‘70s and expanded ever since, you would have to agree that the war has been lost. My criterion for this is quite simple: if any high school kid in North America can get any drug he wants in 24 hours (and he can), then I’d say you’re pissing up wind and getting your shoes wet.
The Feds spend some $20 billion annually on the effort and the states spend another $30 billion, almost all for enforcement. This does not include the costs of prosecution and imprisonment of offenders. Half of all the people in Federal prisons are there because of drug offenses and 17% for crimes committed to get cash for drugs. Officials anticipate that in 2009 over 1,841,000 people will be arrested on drug offenses. In 2007 there were 872,000 arrests for cannabis violations alone. In 1986, during the Reagan Administration, a mandatory minimum was enacted for drug offenders. As a result the average sentence for drug offenders is 75.6 months while violent criminals serve an average of 63 months. (Figures from War on Drugs Clock
and an article by Christina Gleason).
Dan Gardner of the “Ottawa Citizen” has written an excellent series on the drug issue and points out that there is no relationship between the cost of production and the retail price for drugs because of the “risk cost” to the industry, including the need to corrupt judges, police and government officials. Many users could continue to function in society and not resort to crime to support their habit if the cost were not so out of whack.
So, for my first big pronouncement after lunch I would legalize all drugs (except crystal meth). They could be imported (or home grown) and sold like liquor i.e. Taxed and confirmed for quality. This would quickly destroy the illegal market for drugs and all the violence and graft that goes with it. Druggies would be able to pick up clean needles and that would require rescinding the Federal ban on needle exchanges. Dirty needles cause some 4000 new cases of HIV/AIDs each year that cost $618,000 each for a lifetime of treatment.
Next I would release from prison all except the violent drug offenders. The dealers could not re-offend because the market for their services no longer existed. Clearly, this would free up lots of prison space to hang on to the real dangerous predators to society like rapists, murders, pedophiles and various scumbags. It would also allow the ATF and the FBI to concentrate on potential terrorists and man the border to stop illegal immigration. Not happy with this? Sorry, I’m Dictator today.
Potty and liquid refreshment break.
Energy independence: This is another old saw begun during the Nixon Administration in the ‘70s. The result: the US has gone from about 16% imported oil to around 60% with the US sending some $700 billion annually to countries that hate us. The solution is to drill offshore and in Alaska and to exploit the tar sands in the West. This morning I added a $.50 tax on gasoline and would mandate that another $.50 be added in five years. I would also reduce the tax on diesel to make it less than the tax on gasoline, and tell the UAW to pound sand and allow the import of low cost high mileage diesel cars from Europe or South America. While were at it, might as well eliminate the CAFÉ standards for gas mileage. (Good piece on this in the 6/22/2009 “National Review”).
To keep the cost of electricity down I would immediately authorize the construction of 20 nuclear plants and open Yucca Mountain repository for nuclear waste. To do the drilling and building of nuke plants it would be necessary to pull the teeth of the well funded environmental groups and their cadres of lawyers. So, I’d cancel the “citizen lawsuit” provisions of environmental laws and subject proposed drilling and plant building to a commission of scientists and business leaders. I would also make environmental groups taxable entities and donations to such groups subject to a 20% tax. To be fair I would extend those provisions to all the many K Street lobbying groups. Unless there is a serious issue… let the drilling and building begin. The sale of drilling leases and the royalties resulting from all the new wells would be a great revenue source for states and the Federal government. Clean up of any oil spills would, of course, be the responsibility of the drilling companies.
Time for a cigar. All this Dictating has me restless.
The cutting of taxes, reining in of the lawyers and providing cheap energy would certainly bring in massive amounts of investment capital from around the world and result in rapid economic growth. As always, the lower rates would bring in increased revenues for the government. However, there would be a lag, so spending must be cut substantially. Anyway, government is too big, too expensive and redundant. The federal government employs 1.8 million civilians plus another 785,000 at the beloved post office. I’d put an immediate freeze on all hiring. For the USPS, I’d let any business deliver the mail and let the post office go out of business.
I eliminated the Education Department this morning, but there’s lots more low hanging fruit that I want to pick off right away. The Drug Enforcement Agency for example. I legalized drugs so this group is now unnecessary. As Ronald Reagan observed, “The Department of Energy has never produced a single barrel of oil or a lump of coal.” I’d eliminate 90% of the Dept. of Energy and transfer the remaining 10% over to Interior to keep track of energy. That leaves the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Labor, Treasury, Vets Affairs, State, Transportation, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Defense. Except for Defense, I would appoint a commission of businessmen to combine functions, eliminate employees and streamline operations such that the cost of government would be reduced by 50% in five years. With the aggressive growth of the economy there will be plenty of job opportunities for these federal employees in the private sector.
While we’re in the cutting mode, let’s have my “Efficiency Commission” go through the budget and eliminate corporate welfare, farm subsidies, funding of NPR, the NEA, ACORN and all other groups not considered a Federal function. For Congress, no more tacking on earmarks legislation to build a bike path or airport in your district. Absolute no-no, boys.
Social Security: This Ponzi scheme makes Madoff look like a two bit thief. First off, I’d forbid Congress from spending the money put into the SS Trust Fund. I guess I’d first have to set up the fund since it doesn’t exist. Having former illegal workers now covered under the Guest Worker program and paying taxes will help but, social security needs to stop hemorrhaging money by sending checks to drunks, druggies and immigrants who never worked in the US. There will be plenty of money left over at the end of the War on Drugs to weed out the undeserving. I would also let people opt out of the system on the terms of the Republican proposal of a few years back.
Medicare: This is a black hole that needs to be closed and a very difficult task. Unlikely to be fixed by the Dictator today. I have already given doctors relief from medical malpractice and that will help. I would also let people set up medical savings accounts, make medical insurance available across state lines and make it portable when workers change employers. Self-employed people would be able to deduct insurance premiums and able to buy at group rates through associations. Free medical care would not be denied illegal aliens in emergency situations but they would be immediately deported when mobile.
Welfare: Another difficult and long standing problem unfixable by single pronouncements. First, no illegals should be collecting welfare. That’s an insult to honest taxpayers. Same goes for otherwise able-bodied individuals and there will be plenty of jobs available in the rapidly expanding economy.
Justice: I would immediately expand the Supreme Court to 15 justices and appoint 6 new jurists that believe in the Constitution and not legislating from the bench.
And finally, as the day draws to a close, I would pronounce that none of my Dictator Mandates could be changed for 10 years.
Time for a beer. That’s enough for one day.
Note: One of my three faithful readers suggested I tackle the Media in this piece. I decided not to because: 1. Freedom of the press, and 2. The media is comprised of private businesses and should succeed or fail by their own hand. People are already getting frustrated by the biased liberalism of the MSM and their drooling, slavish support of Obama. They are turning off network news and canceling their subscriptions to left leaning newspapers (the NYT, Boston Globe and others are on life support. CBS just reported the lowest ratings ever for their evening news program. Ever.). When citizens fully realize the impact of BHO’s policies and global warming is finally exposed for the massive hoax that it is, the MSM will pay a heavy price. In other words, they don’t need any help from me.