I am not an economist. What I'm about to say is the opinion of someone who is only semi-informed.
So I've been thinking a lot about the economy, and how we could give it a nice kick-start and possibly cut away a lot of the deficit of the government spending. It's based on a few things I've gleaned from a few different areas.
-the war on drugs costs a shitton of money in both increased patrols and the prison system, when legalizing drugs could earn the government money
-people don't understand how things work at all
-the more regulations the government places, the harder it is for the average person to start their own business
-minimum wage makes it harder for people to find jobs, but until people understand how to fight for the wages they deserve, they need it in place.
-men getting a bad deal is hurting everyone
The very first step is to end the war on drugs.
Put in place the age-limits we have for cigs and alcohol- 18 for weed, 21 for anything else. Companies which sell bad drugs will get a bad rep, which will lead to fewer deaths by OD and/or bad mixes. 80% decrease in the prison population means that less money needs to go to prisons. Money from taxes on the drugs will flow in. Druggies who steal will go to jail for theft, ones which kill will go to jail for murder, but that will still cut the prison population by at least half. Companies are still allowed to decline to hire anyone on drugs, but there's no fines to them for deciding to forgo drug tests. Druggies who are driving while high get the same sorts of penalties as drunk drivers, as they cause about equivalent chaos.
Summary of Bonuses to Step 1:
-prison population is decreased, which cuts spending
-more products to be taxed increases revenue
-new jobs created by new industries helps with unemployment
-new workers from those formerly criminalized means more revenue form income taxes
-fewer people dying off of bad drugs and overdosing means less money spent on the health care and more revenue from income taxes
The second step is to rework the housing codes.
The requirements that housing has increases the cost of housing and makes it harder for people to have their own place. While it's incredibly important that housing companies be completely honest about what issues a person living there might face, a person on the street probably isn't going to care much if there's a full kitchen and full bathroom in their apartment. So: inspections should not be legally required. Instead, houses/apartments need to be honest about whether or not there was an inspection, and if there has been one, how long ago it was. They need to be honest about issues which they know about with the building, things which the person doesn't need to worry about (with appropriate proof that it's not an issue), and things that COULD be wrong. They need to offer an inspection, but they could require the tenant to pay up to half of the inspection fee. And this needs to be available the whole time.
Yes, an apartment which is little more than a wooden box is not a great place to live, but it's definitely better than nothing, definitely better than a couple newspapers, and definitely better than a cardboard box.
The next bunch, I'm not sure which order would be best to do. But they do need to be done before the last two.
Rework the affirmative action guidelines.
New guidelines say that if the choice is between two people of opposite sex who have exact same qualifications, then choose the one which is not as heavily represented. If the choice is between two people of different races that have the exact same qualifications, then choose the one which is not as heavily represented. Get rid of quotas in regards to percentages, all those do is prevent the people who want to do things from doing them, and force comapnies/coaches/classes to take those who aren't as well suited to the job/sport/class.
Rework the legal code.
Go back to "innocent until proven guilty" for everything, including cases of rape and abuse. There will be three separate judgements: -guilty, not guilty, and innocent. The case of innocent means that the accused was proven to be innocent of any misdeed, and the accuser will stand trial for misuse of the system, in which the jury tries to determine if the accuser really thought the accused was guilty, of if the accuser was just holding a grudge or trying to get attention. If it's the former, no punishment to anyone. If it's the latter, the accuser will be punished with a sentence no less than half as severe as what the accused would've faced, but not more than as much as the accuser would have faced. (half for a first offense, and slowly building until it's the full for each time). If accuser was found to be purposely misusing the system, the accuser will be required to attend an anger management sort of class about how to let go of a grudge and what constitutes proper use of the system, not to be counted as part of the punishment.
Educate the people.
Billboards and fliers pointing people to websites which spell out the following:
-everything which will be on the upcoming ballot. Each candidate has their stated views and past actions listed, every proposed law or levy has cost/benefit analysis done by every political party.
-contact information of all government officials
-video tutorials on balancing checkbooks, doing taxes, and budgeting- one set of cartoon animated ones, one set of person in front of blackboard style ones, one set of person just doing it at their desk. Powerpoint tutorials on the same thing (one set with mostly notes, one set with mostly pictures). Workbooks for practicing these skills.
Each citizen takes a class which details the hows and whys of petitions, boycotting, being on a jury, and what voting day is really about (which is not the presidential candidates)
Lenience for new companies.
The first five years, if it's discovered that they're breaking some sort of law, they are given a year to fix it before fines are instituted. If they haven't fixed it after a year and a half, they may be shut down. Exception: a company which is stealing, or deliberately causing pain to people, or killing people. They also do not get taxed until they are making a profit of more than $100,000, and it starts at a minimum tax rate and gets bigger as the company grows, but not more than 20%.
The issue with subsidies is that they cause the market to be flooded with more product than is actually needed. A lot of money that the government is spending will also be freed up.
Pull out of most conflicts, and scale down the military.
Do we really need to be spending more on our military than the next 9 countries combined, 8 of which are allies? Well yeah, but that's because we've decided to determine how other countries are being run. We're supposed to be about freedom, so why is it that the other countries aren't free to decide how to rule themselves? Instead of sending military in to be white knights who aren't welcomed, send in teachers to educate the populace, teachers who emphasize how good it is to live in a country where you're not ruled by a dictator. Then, maybe support the people when they decide to overthrow the dictator for themselves, but only by sending in tacticians and trainers for the local populace. Why? Because they aren't going to value their freedom if they didn't fight for it themselves. It's like how that money that you actually earned is worth more to you than the money your friend let you borrow.
Push For the Internet Learning, ditch No Child Left Behind.
One huge problem with the education system is the lack of individualized classes. Everyone has their own learning style, and everyone has their own pace of learning. So, videos of teachers doing the various styles, whichever that teacher is most comfortable doing. With an contact form beneath the video which will, when filled out, tell the recipient exactly which video the student is asking the question about. Forums for discussion on topics, (both online forums, and offline debates and study groups).
On-site, most of what's needed is supervisors and tutors. The supplemental course teachers can take turns supervising the students who are doing computer work. Teachers can work from their homes, answering the emails. Teachers will still be required for the first few grades, to teach reading, writing, basic arithmetic, computer skills, and how to use the teaching system. Also, teachers will still be needed to teach kids how to study. Physical education, the arts, and science labs will also need on-site teachers, as well as teachers for those students with severe disabilities.
It's important that the computers have very limited internet access. They should be able to access a school email, the school sites, and online libraries. Any government site should be accessible, and any approved educational sites. I also recommend that there be one room with access to social media, youtube, and some certain entertainment. I expect the children to be at school from 8am to 6pm (minus the two hours for high schoolers to work, see next step), but I don't expect them to spend that whole time learning. I expect a couple hours of learning, a half hour lunch, and a half hour of break time. (Make note in the break rooms that a youtube video can be paused, added to the "watch later" list, and will automatically start at the same time at which it was paused.)
In high school, each kid spends two hours a day getting experience at various entry level jobs.
Throughout the school year, each kid will spend two months working two hours a day at each of the following jobs (note, there is some flexibility in which year the kid should experience these things, scoffolding to make the most difficult jobs be the last ones. Stocking shelves should be the very first job in all ases):
-clerk at a gas station or convenience store (freshman/sophomore)
-cashier at a grocery store or walmart/target/k-mart style store (freshman/sophomore)
-stocking shelves (first experience)
-fast food (sophomore/junior)
-answering phones (sophomore/junior)
-telephone marketing (junior/senior)
-entry level position in career of choice during senior year
First will be two weeks to a month of training (depending on how much training the company feels they need), then the two months of actually working the job. The supervisor will then give the student a (video-taped) verbal review, and a written review. The supervisor is allowed to share contact info with the student, and the company may request to be informed when the student is finished with high school or college, though the student themselves will be the one who gets the list and does the informing upon graduation.
The point of this is to teach students that work is difficult, and to give them a chance to experience various minimum wage and slightly higher than minimum wage jobs. This could give them contacts with the industry, and really drive home what is needed. The two hours is taken out of the student's school day, and is counted as a class.
The Second to Last step is to simplify the tax codes.
Go ahead and keep it complicated for the middle-middle class and up. But lower-middle class, working poor, and actual poor, they can't afford the $100 to hire a CPA. So make it simple. Anyone making more than twice minimum wage pays at minimum 10% (AFTER deductions). Anyone making twice minimum wage or less pays nothing, because they need that money to pay off debts, pay their actual bills, and have some spending money left to keep the economy going. This is second to last, because the revenue from the other steps will
The Last Step is to Change Minimum Wage Laws.
Minimum wage laws don't apply for the first two years of employment. This will stop the cycle of "can't get a job because I don't have experience, can't get experience because I can't find a job." See, the way minimum wage works, people who don't have experience become not worth employing. Minimum wage goes up, the availability of jobs goes down. Do this last, because there will now be plenty of jobs, and housing that people who don't have minimum wage can actually afford.
As I said, I'm not an economist. But I really believe that if we were to do these things, letting things stabilize between each step before changing the next one, we could fix this country.
And yes, I'm well aware that there are more things which need to be done to make this country truly free, but I don't believe that we can do them until these other things are put in place. First, we need to fix the economy, cut back government spending, and fix the education system. That's what this plan is meant to do. Then we can quibble about gay marriage (or if marriage should even exist as a legal status anymore. I'm not sure it should, but I'm all for gay people being able to marry as long as straight people have that option. But that's a blog post for another day.).