Saturday, June 23, 2007

How Much Will Progress Cost?

A Trillion and a Half Dollars a Year

In the United States, in order to solve our national problems, improve the world, and help build a better future for humankind, we will have to raise taxes on the very rich and corporations by over a trillion dollars a year.
Here is a budget proposal showing what we should use the money for. (The figures below add up to over $1.5 trillion--indeed over $2 trillion--because there is some overlap and because the costs of some programs listed can be spread out over several to many years, requiring less per year. Another posibility to keep in mind is that we ought to slash defense and war spending by $400 billion a year, which would help save money for worthwhile purposes; but I wouldn't count on our being able to get most Americans to go along with that. But it might be worth trying.)

$450 billion to balance the budget and begin paying down the national debt, which is important to do, because it is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars in interest every year--money that is taken mostly from middle-class taxpayers and goes mostly right into the pockets of the overrich, without providing for any government services.
(Now by November, 2008, this seems outdated, because the annual budget deficit has exploded from $4-500 billion to a trillion, a trillion-and-a-half, or two trillion dollars, and not only that, but a consensus seems to have been reached that we should ignore the deficit for a couple of years, engage in massive deficit spending, and then, only once the economy has been saved, get back to worrying about the deficit.
(I believe they are mistaken to ignore the red ink; I believe it could cause terrible problems. But even if they are right, we are still going to need to massively tax the very rich by 2010-2011, and since it will take at least a year or two to get our initiative on the ballot and force the government to act accordingly, it is not to early to begin to go to work on this NOW!)
$200 billion to create full employment, create 10 million jobs, and raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $12 per hour, which will have to be paid for partly by government because not all private employers can afford to pay so much higher wages without raising prices, reducing hiring, or other harmful practices. (See the Solving Un- and Under-Employment blog.)
$100 billion for child care--pre-school and Head Start for all both to improve children's lives and education and in order to make it possible for more parents to work. This could also include the costs of providing income for parents who want to take time off from work to care for their children--a cost which should be paid for by the government, because it is a welfare cost, which is the province of government, rather than of employers, and because the amount of such pay should be the same for every such parent, instead of being proportional to the employee's salary, as it is if paid by the employer.
$100 billion to eliminate poverty by raising welfare benefits, for those who cannot work, to decent levels, rehabilitating addicts, etc.
$100 billion for universal health coverage.
$100 billion to convert to sustainable energy and solve the problems of global warming.
$100 billion to clean up the environment and switch to less-polluting technologies.
$100 billion for more affordable housing.
$100 billion to rebuild America's cties, replacing urban blight with beauty and diversity.
$100 billion to build and maintain infrastructure.
$100 billion to re-industrialize America. We need to manufacture here everything we're importing, requiring rebuilding and renovating factories, training new workers, etc.
$100 billion for education (See Education in the Solving National and World Problems blog).
$100 billion towards saving Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid in the long run. Some of the necessary savings can be achieved by reducing payments to the rich, and some can be achieved by encouraging, not forcing, older people to work for more years. But, on the other hand, immigration should be stopped, so that that source of Social Security revenues will not be available. That's why much of the shortfall must be paid for by higher taxes on the very rich.
$250 billion for foreign aid, as part of a $600 billion-a-year global plan: first towards eliminating hunger, disease, and illiteracy; but, increasingly, for creating good jobs for all and raising living standards and opportunities in the poor countries to equal those of the rich countries.
$100 billion for revenue-sharing to help state and local governments balance their budgets
$100 billion for animal rights and welfare, stop caging chickens, etc.
$100 billion for advanced vehicles such as computer-driven (safe!) cars and individual flying-machines.
$100 billion we want to encourage travel. Everyone should have the opportunity to travel all over our beautiful, amazing country and the world. This will require building lots of affordable hotels and motels and creation of P/T temporary jobs everywhere so that people will be able to afford the travel by working their way across the country and around the world. We must include subsidies to enable millions of people from poor countries to visit and tour the USA.
$100 billion for Space--ultimately, everyone should be able to go to the moon, Mars, and all over the Solar System.

No comments: