Detroit is declaring bankruptcy...I think there have been several others in the years since the recession and housing crisis. The article I read by the Associated Press (AP) in my local paper (The Register Guard) today, "Will bankruptcy really help Detroit?", said that their decline has been 60 years in the making.
According to the AP article, Detroit has already destroyed ten thousand abandoned houses, and they have another 30,000 to go. These houses have been stripped of wiring and plumbing, have doors and windows missing. It says tens of thousands of city lights are not working, in neighborhoods and on freeways. The article also says that trash services have been missed. Police services are very strained and seem to take hours or not be possible. The city says that bankruptcy will make things better for residents in 30-60 days. I don't see how this is possible, and they don't either.
Government runs on taxes. There are all kinds of taxes : Sales taxes, gas taxes, income taxes, lodging taxes, building permits, license fees, transit taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, liquor taxes, recreation taxes, park fees, parking fees, internet taxes, property taxes, county taxes, state taxes, federal taxes, import/export fees, customs fees, business taxes, manufacturing fees, inheritance taxes, capital gains taxes, etc. I'm sure there are more. When the government wants to do something, for whatever reason, it always thinks of taxes, raising taxes, new taxes, any kind of taxes. As Detroit's population fell, its income fell, slowly, year by year, until they felt forced to declare bankruptcy, like several other cities during our national financial crisis.
This event is just one more sign of impending crises and avoided issues our nation is going to have to suffer through. How long the "decline" of America will take is an unknown. We can't last much longer if we don't change the way we operate this country.
The relationship between citizen and government has changed since our country was founded. Like our revolt against the King of England in the beginning of our country, tax issues are becoming an irritant, a cause for rebellion, a weight too heavy to bear. The ongoing clashes between Democrats and Republicans reflect how great the problems are. One sees the solution as more taxes, the other sees the solution as a balanced budget. One sees government as more programs, and the other sees government as less intrusion in the affairs of men and business. Both have their own motives.
The socialistic governments in Europe and elsewhere are struggling with financial issues as well. "Austerity measures" in socialistic countries are the same thing as Detroit having to cut services to pay bills. Reducing pensions, wages, jobs, services, and assets all become part of the income/payment process -- the budget -- whether you are a socialistic country or a democratic/republic form of government.
America is no different. Our nation cannot keep creating more programs and mandates that are not funded. In time, America will be in the same position as Detroit... and the ordinary citizen is the one who will be the last to know, and the one to suffer the most.
For years I have been trying to figure out how we can meet the needs of those who have nowhere else to turn, with reasonable programs and tax structures. I have finally decided the tax structure needs to be changed to a flat-rate SALES TAX ONLY relationship with our government...a flat rate tax that doesn't overwhelm anyone, and that reflects a right relationship between government and citizen. I think 10% is fair. It is what GOD requires of His People, it should be enough for our government. I have already stated my idea of how it should be dispersed (in other blogs), with one percent devoted to international government, which is going to be necessary in order to deal with global crime issues. The remaining 9% can be equally divided between our three main governing bodies: Federal, State, and County.
There is a lot of waste and abuse in government, at all levels. This type of tax limitation may create a need to focus on what is essential, what can be saved, how the income can be distributed by priority, and what services can be operated as government businesses to meet the needs of employees and the poor. Government doesn't operate like a business because they feel they have an endless source of money/funding in taxes. The need to deal with reducing their infrastructure will only happen when they HAVE TO DO IT to survive.
Do we want to wait until America is in the situation that Detroit and other cities are in? What can we do to prevent this from happening to us as a nation? What is most important in our budget structure? How much is the REAL minimum tax income needed? How can we change things to be fiscally fit as a nation, without debt, living within our means? What would happen if we did get rid of income taxes and property taxes, and switched to a flat-rate sales tax only? What would happen to America if we didn't need such a huge IRS department?
What if we changed the way we operated our medical programs... I have seen people get $25,000 wheelchairs with government medical support, for their temporary or long-term needs. I am not aware of the government getting this equipment back when the need is gone. I think it would be more cost-effective to operate government medical programs with leased equipment, requiring payment for it if it isn't returned. Prisons can be used to refurbish the equipment for the next person. There must be a better way to deal with the way medical equipment is handled.
What if people could CHOOSE government medical insurance as one option among all the options available? Military / Legislative / Congressional / Senate / Executive / Medicare / Medicaid / etc. could all be VOLUNTARY chosen deductions, not a assumed or mandated programs. (Unemployment could also be voluntary, as could other programs.) This would change the entire structure of the programs, and payment options. It would become a business service with the same limitations and benefits process as other insurance/program providers. Since the poor are the main ones that need government help, it could be structured to meet the needs of the poor, and then modified across government benefits at a higher pricing. Obamacare is not good for this country... and government healthcare needs to be similar to the care of ordinary Americans.
Governments would still be able to issue bond measures for special projects.
There are other options, but Government will not look for them until they have to. The financial crisis is forcing those in charge to look for savings, to decide what is essential, and to change the way they operate. We need to keep going in this direction!