In Part Three, I outlined my concept of an, “Altruistic Democracy” – a free and open democratic society that creates a framework that is supportive of everyone across society, so that everyone is allowed to reach their full potential in life and no one slips through the proverbial, “safety net.” I explained that in our democracy today, everything works out just fine in you are one of society’s winners; but the middle-class hangs on a thread – and for every winner there are as many and more economic losers – who struggle just to survive. Unfortunately, more often than not it is single women with children that are the biggest losers – with little or no way to seemingly ever improve their economic plight.
So how would an Altruistic Democracy be any different from conservative, liberal or moderate versions of democracy? I really don’t know, but by the end of this article I hope to sketch out at least a rough draft of how it might look. The initial difference with an Altruistic Democracy is that the nation’s citizens would have to elect candidates that ran on an Altruistic political platform that promised to enact such a government. Their platform would be best described as, “No Citizen Left Behind” – and really mean it.
No matter how you look at it, the difficult part for anyone who governs is the enormity of the debt that our nation has built up over close to a century of government spending by liberal and conservative governments alike. Much of our nation’s debt is the result of America’s selfless spending to preserve freedom and security around the world over the past century: WWI, WWII, the Marshall Plan, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, The Persian Gulf War, and the current ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan against terrorists.
National spending to preserve democracy has been the primary drain on western democracies since WWI – in particular on the engine of democracy – the United States of America. The fact that America has been the selfless defender of liberty around the world, when our country had every reason and excuse for not acting or responding – is one of the greatest chapters of freedom in the history of mankind. However, now the amount of our National Debt puts a limit on what we are able to do in the future; which only reinforces the fact that diplomacy should be working overtime to work for peace in our world – as the only realistic option for everyone to prosper in the future.
The first place to start in governing from an Altruistic perspective, would be to pass a law requiring Congress to pass a balanced budget on time every year – or stay in session until they have passed one – and remain in session until the President signs or vetoes it, and a veto would continue the budget process until completion. This would ensure we have a serious Congress that doesn’t put off making the hard decisions until the next year – or forever. The new budget law would also spell out that the annual payment on the National Debt would have to be set to a certain percentage of the year’s total budget – to be applied directly against the Federal Debt; ensuring that our nation’s debt begins to shrink every year instead of growing as it is now.
The next part of the puzzle really requires people to change their hearts, and develop the altruistic ideals that it is better that everyone benefits and succeeds together – rather than have only a few winners in society. Tax rates would be automatically adjusted by law – higher or lower – to bring in the correct amount of tax revenue to cover the government’s expenses after an annual budget has been passed. That way, there would be no fudging the numbers and saying one thing while passing a budget; and later delaying tax rate adjustments needed to zero out government spending at the end of the year. Having these guidelines and protections in place and mandated by law would reduce the amount of grandstanding by either party, ensuring a serious approach that forces compromise and teamwork in reaching a workable budget.
The Tax Code would be the next aspect of government to be adjusted, and it seems that a flat tax rate is the best system to adopt. The other key aspect of the Tax Code would be to simplify the entire tax system in order to make it fit on a single piece of paper – like an EZ Filing Tax Form. For example, a national flat tax rate of 15% on adjusted gross income would apply to everyone except for the lowest 25% of the population – who wouldn’t have to pay any taxes. The only allowable tax deduction that could be used to lower the gross income would be through gifts made to others during the calendar year.
Tax deductions would be allowed for bank transfers to family members towards their direct support, and for bank transfers to anyone else that is not a relative – including churches and non-profit charities – towards their direct support. The rationalization is that in an Altruistic Democracy, taking care of people is the highest priority of the government after security, and by encouraging citizens to contribute towards the support of others means that the government doesn’t have to – and more citizens overall are taken care of when we choose to take responsibility for each other.
An example of a flat state rate would be 10% on adjusted gross income, and a flat local tax rate of say 5% on adjusted gross income would complete the tax picture. This example amounts to a total overall adjusted gross income tax rate of 30% – and the more you deduct through assisting other people – the lower your adjusted gross income would be. In this system there would be no sales tax or other forms of tax revenue, which puts the burden on Congress to limit spending primarily to the two top priorities of the Federal Government: security and people – and the more we can promote peace around the world the less we have to spend on security.
Many of the current departments of government could be cut back to an advisory role or completely eliminated in order to streamline and reduce the size of today’s federal government. In addition, the process of, “earmarks” would be banned; if a spending measure warrants approval then the entire Congress needs to vote it up or down. Of course this is all hypothetical until Congress gets serious and puts the Federal Government on a spending diet – controlling the size, growth of spending that has grown increasingly out-of-control in recent decades.
The final adjustment to government spending that I’d like to see enacted, is that all future wars would first require a declaration of war enacted by Congress; and then must be, “pay as you go” – requiring a new tax authorization (meaning higher taxes) in the current fiscal year as the war is being waged. What this means is that future wars wouldn’t add to the Federal Debt, and would require serious action by Congress to enact a declaration of war to proceed – and require real-time tax increases to pay for it.
Given the basic budget requirements of the Federal Government and new rules that limit the amount of spending by Congress, how would an Altruistic Democracy prioritize domestic spending – taking care of people – after taking care of security interests? That’s where I’ll start off in Part Five which should wrap up and conclude this series. The major focus is for people to literally change their hearts and choose love and peace – putting our focus and priorities on helping each other so that everyone can succeed – and build an Altruistic Democracy to take us all into a prosperous future together.