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Subject:  Re: smaller government, DrB? Date:  5/16/2013  1:09 PM
Author:  Windchasers Number:  423074 of 508550

Decided to pull this into a new thread. As you are one of the very few semi-reasonable conservatives we encounter at TMF (most are practically foaming at the mouth), I wanted to probe this further.

How do we make it "smaller"? Please be relatively specific. I don't expect precise head-count cuts, etc. But just saying "eliminating waste" isn't helpful. Do we cut air traffic control? Do we reduce the Navy by x-number of ships? Do we shutter the SEC or the EPA or the FDA (or all of them)?

Ooooh! Ooh! I want to play!
As a sorta "liberaltarian", I favor smaller government, both fiscally and socially, but with some smart controls.

To start, I'd cut total defense spending* by ~50%, phasing this in at a rate of a few %/year. A strong economy is the best defense, and excess military spending saps our economic strength. To compensate for a weaker military, we need to do a few things:
1) Push our allies to step it up. Australia, Japan, and NATO, you need to pull more weight.
2) Start a strong, unending push for human rights around the world. The happier, more informed, and free-er other countries are, the less interested in going to war they are, and the less need we have for a strong military.
3) Continue to devote ourselves to free trade. No one wants to go to war with your trading partners; it hurts your economy and your citizens' standard of living.


Regulation. Loosen FDA regulations on drugs. New medicines should have to only perform as well as old ones, not better. This opens up the market for more competition.
End the War on Drugs. If we need to make some drugs illegal, make the scheduling be data-based, using something like this:

Civil Rights. Repeal the Patriot Act; bolster privacy for citizens. And tighten what is considered a "combatant", so that the government has less room to run roughshod over civil rights.

Subsidies. Repeal the subsidies. Subsidies for agriculture, green and not-so-green energy, employer-provided health insurance, etc., etc. Get rid of them all.

Education. Give states more control over K-12 education. Bonus $$ if they conduct studies figure out what actually works and what doesn't. More or less, let states act like testing grounds for new ideas about education.
Repeal government subsidies for student loan providers, and also make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy. I think the private market will do a better job of figuring out who merits a school loan than the fed'l gov't, and government protection of lenders just inflates the market. Have you seen the size of the student loan market these days?

By removing the loss protection and making student loans dischargeable, you incentivize lenders to lend wisely. And if they don't, the student would have a way out, unlike now. Yeah, bankruptcy isn't pretty, but our economy would look a helluva lot better without these huge student loan burdens that basically creates more wage slaves.

Health . Phase out Medicare Part D. Switch from Obamacare (employer mandate for health insurance) to an individual health insurance mandate, but keep all the rules that stop insurers from dropping you on a dime. Because of EMTALA, we need a mandate, sure, but I think we can do better than the system we've got.

Retirement / SS. Slowly raise the official retirement age until the future projections for Social Security stabilize.
Make SSDI more like an actual insurance program. Your insurance rate depends on your job, education level, etc., and make it less like a welfare program. Put some actuaries in charge, and if payouts for a given area spike, rates can increase, too. (I'm open to ideas here, though.)

Immigration. Basically: open the borders. If it helps the Republicans get the stick out of their ass, we can say "No disability, welfare, etc., until you've paid into the system for X years".

Where I want bigger government:

- If you're going to create a regulatory agency and give them responsibility, for the love of God, give them enough money to do their jobs. The SEC and IRS are badly underfunded, and giving them more money will result in more revenues for the federal government.
- Greatly expand funding of basic research in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- Expand funding of Planned Parenthood. Heck, I'd give out free contraception, including IUDs. There's almost nothing as unhealthy for society as an unplanned, unwanted child.

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