Sunday, February 12, 2012

What the US Really Needs

With the election season getting underway, and America once again approaching the time when they will choose between two statist, freedom-abolishing, debt-ignoring, big government blowhards, an interesting thought occurred to me: what would be the single most beneficial thing which could be done for the country? Obviously, in light of the equally horrible choices for the presidency, a Congress which is the #1 enemy of the people with an approval rating to match, and a government which is absolutely out-of-control, it's a fairly hypothetical mental exercise, but one with an interesting outcome. You see, while there are a lot of good things with could be done, virtually none of them would be overwhelmingly good in isolation: America has a lot of large, pressing problems, and no single fix would be sufficient to alter the course to eventual collapse enough.

Rather, I was thinking about the situation in Greece, and how it pertains to America. Greece is, in many ways, a window into our future: a country with an unsustainable entitlement system, little remaining non-service industry, a crippling debt, and little responsibility or accountability among the general populace. In the same way as us, there's no one solution for Greece's problems, and in their case they are well past the point of feasible course correction before their inevitable national default. However, their largest problem currently is not any of their structural problems, but rather the fact that they have no plan in place for an orderly default, and no path beyond. In essence, this uncertainty is what is crippling the markets, causing social unrest within Greece, and impeding what might otherwise be a fairly non-disruptive obvious end-result of their chosen political policies.

Along the same lines, I think if the US could only have one positive change, I think the thing we need most is collapse and restructuring plan for our entire economy. Like funeral planning, this could take much of the stress and uncertainty out of our eventual default, and try to make the transition to a new, less entitlement-based system much less painful. After all, we know we're going to default: there's no political will to fix our debt problems of live within our means, and our population is incapable of making responsible decisions. At least we have a chance, though, of being able to recognize this, and plan ahead for when the weight of all our bad decisions crushes what's left of the economy, and put some real honest effort into thinking about how to move forward after that event.

For example, we could start thinking about ways to move US people's savings out of direct or indirect investment in government debt; when the country defaults, all that debt will be written down, and if that loss can primarily effect foreign governments, that would be better for the American people. The US government could also start forming a transition plan for the months when the country's currency is worthless, and putting in place a structured bartering system. We could start planning for decentralized police, fire, and emergency services, to keep local communities functional if the federal and/or state government is in transition. Obviously you would also want to ween people off public support and entitlements as much as possible as well, as those will certainly be at least temporarily disrupted when the country goes broke. All of these would be good, prudent steps to take, when eventual default is all but inevitable.

As a bonus, by taking these steps, the country could alleviate or reduce several of their other problems by side-effect. For example, by educating people about how to be prepared for when the country defaults, perhaps we could finally get the message across to all the ignorant sheeple that the country's spending trajectory is utterly unsustainable. Weening people off entitlements would force a discussion about the dangers of creating a society too dependent on the government, and perhaps help stop socialist-leaning politicians from getting traction in the US government. Moving social services to a more local level would have lots of benefits, not the least of which could be shrinking the federal government itself. Who knows... with enough of the beneficial secondary effects from this one simple change, we might actually be able to avert a catastrophic collapse of the country in the first place.

Here's hoping we can get a solid transition plan in place, though, at least, before our country goes through the same inevitable collapse as so many have before, and seemingly all eventually do.


  1. That would be the polar opposite of Weimar Germany in 1929: 4 years later, Hitler was

  2. At my place of work, we have financial wellness training. Great stuff. It stresses reducing and avoiding debt, saving to have your own safety net, living *below* your means, and just being financially self reliant to the greatest degree possible. It deals with personal finance, but the lessons can be generalized to government spending. If the entire electorate had such education, I think we'd have less financial irresponsibility in government because we'd see it and hold them accountable. Think personal finance education of the electorate was on your list, but if not, I'd add it. For the record, I'm a socialist. ;p