How to improve America?
Point One: Student Loan Reform
The crippling debt has ballooned to over one-hundred trillion dollars. America’s Millennial generation is burdened by this debt, and something must be done about it. The debt has destroyed morale amongst this generation, and has resulted in many delaying home ownership, marriage, and having children. Past generations have benefitted from sweeping bills that addressed a generational problem. Baby boomers were bailed out with the Home Affordability Refinance Program, or HARP, after the 2008 Financial Crisis. Veterans returning from WWII were benefactors of the GI Bill. The Silent Generation was helped by FDR’s New Deal, and the Homestead Act enabled Americans to seek out new adventures in America’s frontier. Millennials deserve their chance too.
The issue can be tackled in three different ways. The first consideration should be interest forgiveness. This would create a fixed, leveled payment, allowing for an easier path to a full pay down, while providing debtors a light version of a bailout. The Federal Government could incentivize those paying down student loan debt with an alternative solution. For example, each dollar saved to a retirement account, such an IRA or 401(k) equals one dollar forgiven from their debt. Non-holders of student loan debt can receive forgiveness in other loans, or tax credits. Finally, provide relief for each month employed. For example, every month the individual assumes full-time employment, they are permitted to be forgiven for that month’s payment.
Millennials deserve an olive branch with this generational problem that they face.
Point Two: Bridge The Wealth Divide With Changes To Inheritance Taxation
Lately, the topic has focused on taxing wealth, or high-income earners in an effort to fix the growing wealth inequality in America. The problem is relevant, but the methods to fix it are incorrect. Instead, focus attention on generational wealth.
Currently, each spouse in a household can pass on $11.2 million dollars free of the Inheritance Tax. Secondly, most wealthy families can exploit a multitude of loopholes to further avoid taxation, and preserve their wealth. Money must be permitted to pass on to a spouse without tax, and any children below age eighteen. However, how much family wealth needs to be passed on without taxation when the children are adults? Of course there are exceptions, like in the case of a child with a physical or mental disability, but on average, the current generational wealth structure should be reexamined.
This applies to a few ultra-wealthy families in our country, but it encompasses a tremendously large amount of money. There should be limits put in place to which money can be passed on after death, and when the limits are reached, the money should be returned to the US Treasury. This creates an incentive for people to spend their money while they are alive. The money spent will encompass leisure and philanthropy. A wealthy person knowing their money would be returned to the government at death would likely want to enjoy their wealth, or at least use it for as much good as possible while living.
Finally, and most importantly, it prevents future generations from simply waiting on inheritances and pass-downs. It resets the playing field for each generation. This fundamentally entitles everyone to more fair chance than we currently have, while still having a capitalistic system in place to generate and create wealth.
Point Three: No More Income Tax
A reformed Inheritance Tax must be offset by an abandonment of income tax. Let the states and municipalities tax income if they so choose, but the Federal Government should stay out of taxing paychecks. This will be a power shift to the local governments in our country. It creates a system where local governments compete for the top laborers most equipped to handle the needs of their geographic region. The ease of transportation, and the ability to relocate in our country has never been easier. Local governments should fight for the skill-sets they believe are most able to further develop their local economies.
Point Four: Retirement Contribution Requirements & Social Security Reform
Nationalize our retirement system. Retirement saving in our country is embarrassingly low, while our government is unable to fulfill the promises of Social Security for future generations. Reform Social Security by abandoning the program, and mandating retirement savings. This comes in three parts.
Part one is for those on Social Security, or close to it. They receive what is promised to them, and subsequently do not incur mandated retirement savings. They are too close to retirement to force this change upon them.
Part two is for those between the ages of forty and fifty-five. They are sandwiched between the Millennial generation, and current or soon-to-be retirees. They can choose from three options.
Option one is their current benefit structure, but an increased retirement age, and minimal forced retirement savings.
Option two is a portion of their benefit structure, a one-time contribution of half of their social security dollars into a retirement account, flexible retirement age, and a slightly higher mandated annual retirement savings.
Finally, option three receives all of their social security taxation in a retirement account, no pension and no mandates on a retirement age or mandated retirement savings.
Part three is for our Millennial generation. They will receive every dollar they contributed to social security tax in the form of an IRA contribution, and be subjected to forced annual retirement savings based on their income and accumulated retirement savings. They will have no pension, nor any retirement age requirement.
Point Five: An Emphasis On Cyber Security, & Recognize China As Our Biggest Threat
America must wake up. The Chinese are our biggest threat to stability. They have the land mass, people, technology, and an autocratic communistic hybrid government veiled under the guise of capitalism. The nation intends to take over as the world superpower, and appears ready to do this in a way the world has never seen. Without war. This is key. America is trying to keep up with the rest of the world using the tools and tricks from the 20th century, while China is rewriting the rules for the current century.
Cyber security is the warfare China appears ready to wage. There have been countless instances that the Chinese government tampered with our system, and it is clear that the nation-state has the ability to further the aggression. They are an advanced nation, continuing to grow in efficiency. China’s one true threat to overtaking us in this century is a threat from inside. Can they maintain control of over one billion people?
Point Six: Public Schools Abandon Common Core & Emphasize Specialty Oriented Education
Teachers, along with parents, must help decide what direction a kid should go. The direction, once the child gains basic skills in the early years of education, needs to become speciality oriented or trade related. There should be an element of core content that is taught to children very early on. This is similar to what we see now. However, the pivot to a more specialized subject matter and dedicated route should occur somewhere between 6th and 9th grade.
The ability to move around from subject to subject should be extended as well. Think of this as a college student changing their major. The insight and decision making should occur on the local level. There should be a generalized path to success, but the specifics are ironed out with teachers and parents. Less red tape and less administrators. Most importantly, more choice and autonomy. Let the mind develop instead of developing the mind. Let the child figure out the path based on what the child likes and subsequently get an early start on mastering the trade.
This will lessen the need for higher education, and enable the student to be more hirable at an early age. Speaking of employable candidates, let us bring in corporations and government offices at an early age to work alongside the students. Less career fairs, and more liaisons working inside the school that can act as guidance counselors of sorts. Offer students direct intake and feedback from the career path early on. This increases the success, and develops it at an early age minimizing a gap in income. Take colleges off the K-12 mind, and allow businesses and government to directly hire and educate once the student graduates.
Point Seven: Infrastructure & Public Works Bill
The nation need not only to improve our technology, but our overall infrastructure. This isn’t isolated to bridges, roads, and railways. We need to enhance our grids. This is our water, electric, and gas lines. Let us parlay this to students being able to develop their potential labor skills early on to champion a career path into valuable, manual labor trades. The government can provide subsidies for this route to increase a career pool that is in need of more applicants. This path creates more jobs in an era that technology has lessened opportunity in other fields.
Point Eight: Healthcare
It truly is a disaster. Corporations are doing an OK job providing benefits to their employees, but it can be enhanced. Small business owners, as well as self-employed individuals, are not benefitting from the changes Obamacare implemented years ago. Retirees are paying far too high prices for their prescriptions. This is only part of the problem.
The model of our healthcare system hasn’t evolved as fast as other industries have. Sure, there are things in the works through companies like Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan. However, this is not going to reform the entire industry. We have seen ways where healthcare choice has become easier, as well the ability treat minor ailments using a quick-care or video chats, but it is not enough. This has also lessened the need for a doctor’s referral. The advancements in overall treatment have helped, as well as an emphasis on preventive care. We are still behind in actually removing the disease through a cure, versus effective, and costly ongoing treatment. Think of anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
Insurers are profiting at historical rates, and this should not be the case. Yes, more are insured. However, to what extent should the fair market value be when evaluating the returns. This is an extremely complicated problem, and both sides of the aisle have presented America with minimal resolve. One side expects the government to fix the entire system, which is not probable. The other side believes capitalism and Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand can fix it naturally. Again, not probable.
A potential solution would be a domestic conference commissioned by the government, and publicly administered for our country to see. The group must include all aspects of the industry, and the discussions should be long, and offer a multitude of content and ideas. Responsible debate should take place for all to see.
Those included need to be legislators from both parties, and CEOs or C-Suite Executives from all types of healthcare related companies. This would include hospitals, pharmacies, drug companies, biotech companies, medical equipment providers, insurers, as well as financial companies and technology firms. Titans of business such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates should be present as well. Finally, media should be present to broadcast the discussions as well as the feuds.
The commission should be tasked with presenting a unilateral and bipartisan series of plans to address three areas.
First would be the cost related to preventive care, treatment, and prescriptions.
Area two would focus around improvements in the technological space to make healthcare not only accessible to all, but as efficient as possible.
Finally, the third area would concentrate on insurers and what would be an appropriate model for them to adhere to going forward.
Point Nine: Term Limits
All Federally elected Senators and Congressmen will be subjected to term limits, as well as to requirements when they leave public office. First, members of the House are restricted to two two-year terms, and no more. Senators are allotted one six-year term. The same individual is permitted to serve as a member of the House, and then serve as a Senator until applicable limits have been reached. Any Senator, or member of the House, can only serve in one post within any Presidential cabinet. That person may not return to the Executive Branch once they are relieved of their duties, whether willingly or by termination.
Finally, all officials, regardless of their branch of government, are not allowed to work as a lobbyist, an executive, or a member of a corporate board for five years when they leave public office. They are not permitted to work in any state or local governments as well, nor have the ability to be appointed as a foreign diplomat.
The term limits implementation will prevent career politicians, improving the likelihood that the individual running is doing it for the right reasons. Campaign finance should be reformed as well.