De-programming suggestion

Here is a perfectly sensible guvmint policy, suggested by me, but I’d be happy if anyone else takes the credit for it.

Divide all “entitlement” programmes (you know who you are), by four. Cut one of these quarters each year — thus reducing the payouts by a quarter immediately, by another third at the beginning of the second year, and by half at the dawn of the third — while “downsizing” the bureaucracies that administer them, proportionately. As the fourth year begins, the programmes will end entirely, and the respective departments be donated to nature.

My “modest proposal” applies to both Dominion and Provincial governments; in the Natted States both Federal and State. Too, it would affect all Municipal budgets, insofar as they also have “entitlement” programmes. Of course, many other programmes can be cut, but we’ll do those piecemeal.

Gentle reader may ask, What to do with these vast savings? I reply, essentially, nothing. The national debt could be consolidated into a sinking fund, denominated in units of the old currency, as a new gold equivalent replaces it. The old currency will continue to trade in the free market, for whatever it will fetch; it could also be used for play money, or shipped to landfills, in boxes. In the new currency, taxes will be much lower.

May I humbly suggest a universal sales tax, say something like seven percent in aggregate, distributed to all levels of guvmint, by a fixed formula. This will cover their necessary provisions, for the military, police, courts, gaols, pageantry, &c. It will also enable us to close the income tax department, while being fully graduated: for the more you spend, the more you pay. Conversely, saving money will become cool again, especially for the deadbeat poor, always with us. The Church might want to resume her missions to them.

There are little details that I won’t go into in a short Idlepost, including the sell-off of public schools, the cancellation of all subsidies to universities, public broadcasting, &c; except to note that my proposal is humane. It gives all recipients of guvmint largesse three years to adapt to the new fiscal regime. Many will complain, I know, but with the withdrawal of funding, the volume of their noise will be diminishing. It is like unplugging a deafening machine. They may seek replenishment from private charities (which will be paying the sales tax on what they disperse, like everyone else). Ministers of the Crown will provide colourful ideas, for what they may do with themselves.

As I further propose to cut all paycheques to elected politicians, together with their splendid retirement plans, there would anyway be a new class of politicians rising, consisting exclusively of those with pockets deep enough to afford “public service,” as opposed to those who see the chance to get rich in it. Featherbedding would thus tend to be in decline. The Auditor-General would have powers to hasten this.

In Canada, and most other Western countries, guvmints are elected for a term of about four years. My “Old Tory” coalition will be, perhaps, smaller in the fourth, at the end of which it is likely to be trounced at the polls. But who cares? Losing elections means shedding unwanted responsibilities.

While, in this fourth and final year, the opinion polls show them to have cratered, they would be focused on making such constitutional adjustments, as will prevent subsequent guvmints from attempting to restore spending on demographic or regional constituencies. On their own dime, the spokespersons for these constituencies (generally self-appointed) would be free to lobby Parliament for cash; but it would be pointless.

Or who knows? Maybe the general electorate would like the new arrangements? People can be quite eccentric, and aren’t really predictable four years in advance. “Darn,” we will say, after winning the next election by a landslide. “Four more years of dealing with these idiots.”

Still, on balance, I think getting the de-programming started would be the more formidable political task.