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Monday, June 27, 2011

Preventative Measures

It is now commonplace for people to be charged with crimes where there are no victims.  A car is speeding, maybe 10 miles over the posted speed limit, but maintains complete control of their vehicle.  A cop pulls the car over and issues a ticket, which then results in either a payment from the 'offender' or that person showing up in court and wasting time and money.  Who is harmed?  Who is the victim?  The only victim in this example is the police officer's pride (and of course the driver).

Let's say there is a person who likes to go home at night and smoke some marijuana, never leaving their home, where they live alone.  Some police walk by on the sidewalk, and smell a funny odor coming from the house.  Fearing destruction of evidence, they break down the door (without a warrant), and arrest the homeowner.  Who is harmed?  Who is the victim?

Hopefully you're with me so far.  What about someone who is driving drunk?  Let's say that a person enjoyed enough adult beverages to put themselves over the stated legal limit.  While driving, they are obeying all traffic signals and give no indication of being incapable of driving.  At a DUI Checkpoint, the police determine the driver is over the legal limit, though shows no signs of being drunk.  The driver is arrested, the car is towed and the license is suspended.  After a court hearing, classes are mandated.  Who is harmed?  Who is the victim?

But wait, you say, aren't these behaviors we want to discourage?  No, I say.  I have no problem with anyone's actions as long as they do not harm anybody else.  If somebody wants to smoke crack and lose all their teeth and worse, go for it, have fun.  If a young boy wants to go to school in a dress, go for it, have fun.  None of these things bother me.  What bothers me is our police force and court system taking it into their hands to punish people who might cause harm.  You either cause harm or you don't, you can't be somewhere in the middle.

Ok, so if we get rid of all the preventative laws what happens to the person who drinks and drives and kills somebody?  Instead of preventative laws, we need a tiered punishment for existings laws where harm is involved.  If somebody drove drunk and killed someone, the punishment would be in a higher tier than somebody who wasn't drunk, just for an example.  If you were speeding and hit another car, your punishment might be 10% more severe than someone driving the speed limit, and so on.  The tiers could be linked to how many miles over the speed limit they were traveling or how many points over the "legal limit" they were.

Preventative laws only prevent one thing: freedom.  They do little to deter those who would push the limits to the point of harming others.  More severe penalties for those who lose control of themselves would be a great deterant, and even better, it would allow for the maximum freedom to be enjoyed by the population.  As a society, we can't punish people for what they might do, even if what they are doing seems wrong to bystanders.  As long as they are harming nobody but themselves, I say they should be free to pursue whatever happiness they desire.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cash Cow Budgeting

Citizens are cash cows.  A cash cow is defined as, "a steady, dependable source of income."  As citizens, we are required by law, through threat of force, to pay taxes to the federal government.  The federal government could decide to tax us any amount they wished, and we would be forced to pay.  To refuse would be illegal, no matter how just.  Therefore, we are the government's cash cows.

Just what did the government spend our hard-earned money on in 2010?  22.62% was spent on health care (Medicare/Medicaid) and 20.04% was spent on Social Security.  The chart can be found here.  That means 42.66% of the federal budget was spent on welfare.  But what does that mean dollar-wise?  Going to the president's website, it is easy to find percentages, but difficult to find hard numbers.  In 2010, the federal government spent $3,456 billion ($3.456 trillion) while it only took in $2,162 billion ($2.162 trillion) in taxes.  Interestingly enough, if I spent more than I earned, I would be charges some serious overdraft charges from my bank.  I wonder where the government banks... Oh yeah, they bank with the Federal Reserve, a bank where money can be created from thin air.

Back to the number game: 23% of $3.5 trillion is $794 billion and 20% is $691 billion.  That equals $1.49 trillion spent on welfare alone.  That is over half of what the government brought in through taxes.  68% of our taxes go to welfare.  19.27% of the budget pays for our military and a mere 0.81% goes towards legal and immigration.  If we include the 3.26% that goes towards veteran benefits and the 1.65% towards international affairs, that brings us to 24.99% of our budget goes towards defense and legal.  $863.65 billion is spent on national defense and our legal system.

If the federal government only undertook its three responsibilities (military, court system and police force) the total budget spending would be roughly $863.65 billion per year, assuming we cut out all welfare and privatized everything else.  As of Feb. 16, 2011, the population of the United States was 310,831,978.  If we divided that out, every person in the United States would have to pay $2,778.51 per year to balance the budget.  Currently the average American pays roughly 20% of their salary to federal taxes, and the average salary is $29,500, which translates into about $5,900 in taxes per person.  That means, if the government only spent money on what was necessary, it would save the average American approximately $3,121.49 per year.

If we kept the taxes the same as they were in 2010 and from the $2.162 trillion subtracted the $863.65 billion for military and legal, the government would be left with $1.3 trillion.  The current US National debt is $14.13 trillion.  It would only take 11 years for the government to pay off the national debt under this plan, assuming the US government incurred no further debt.  11 years may seem like a long time to hold a debt, but when you consider Obama's current 2011 budget plans for an increase in national debt of $13 trillion, 11 years to being debt-free doesn't sound bad at all.

© 2011 Nate Phillipps