By s.i. wells
Red ink. We are awash in red ink. Frankly, based on how the United States does its accounting, red is the new black.
What can we do:
1. Complain? Yes - a useful way to pass the time;
2. Vote the bastards in Congress out of office? Without a doubt - although fresh bastards are waiting to take their places;
3. Watch as our economy circles the drain and reduces America’s hegemony to a distant memory? Certainly, but this gapers block will only provide temporary satisfaction;
4. Or, do something about it? Up to you.
Let me outline my suggested economic makeover by first finding something we can all agree upon. I think everyone, or at least a majority of decent American folks, would agree that it is important to provide medical care for our nation’s elderly. Few would openly advocate throwing grandma under the bus because she needs an expensive operation.
Which brings us to Baby Boomers…lots and lots of Baby Boomers all rusting out at a pretty good clip. And, frankly, we probably do not have enough buses to take care of the problem. So, the better course will be to provide Medicare coverage for as far as the eye can see. However, since the U.S. is essentially bankrupt, how will we pay for this largess?
Here’s one idea - let’s call it the “Buddy Can You Spare A Dime?” plan which is specifically designed to pay for those things we believe are important, necessary, humanitarian, or just the right thing to do.
And, here’s how it might work. Every year in the United States, we buy approximately 140 billion gallons of gasoline, 214 billion bottles/cans of beer, and 29 billion packs of cigarettes. If everyone who purchases a gallon of gas, a bottle/can of beer, or a pack of cigarettes paid an additional ten cents - one thin dime - per gallon, per beer, or per pack, this would raise approximately 38.3 billion dollars per year. Which, by all accounts, seems like real money.
Now, and this is the tricky part, if we agree to spare a dime, we should demand the money be deposited into an ironclad trust fund, untouchable by the Federal “budget balancers,” and mandate that the funds can only be used to make up the shortfall from tax revenues collected to pay for Medicare. If there is a surplus, just let the trust fund grow. Compound interest can be a beautiful thing. No risky investments, no fancy-dancy Wall Street inventions, just real money earning real interest.
Bottom line – I believe that we, the people, can afford to pay a dime more for lots of things and I believe we will do it without hesitation if we are assured that the money will go to pay for designated purposes. No one wants higher taxes, but who amongst us is prepared to stand up and say they cannot afford to spare a dime?