I was reading the latest issue of Kiplinger’s and came across an article by Knight Kiplinger, Editor in Chief of the magazine, that laid out what his thoughts were on a new economic agenda. I so rarely agree with these guys on issues like this because most of them lean right and I tend to lean left. But his points on what he thought we as a country needed to do really hit home with me, and I wanted to see what you guys thought of them. So without further ado, here is a a very shortened version of his ideas for a new economic agenda, along with my thoughts on each.
1. Increase the savings rate to encourage more saving. We Americans are very good at spending money and very bad at saving it.
2. A reduction in spending. Yes, I do think the government spends way too much on useless projects while leaving the important ones unfunded. The article basically says the same – reduce spending on military hardware, subsidies to businesses, and reduce money spent on healthcare costs. Not by cutting anything, but by managing it better.
3. Reform the tax code by taxing consumption rather than income. I am on the fence about this one, but I do think if done right it could really straighten things out.
4. Restrain some entitlement programs. But not necessarily by cutting them from the budget, but instead by reworking them to have the maximum benefit with the lowest costs. For example, with Social Security, he says that we could raise the benefit age to 70, trim future hikes, and subject more upper-income earnings to the payroll tax.
5. Curb fossil fuels. This is the biggest one that I have a disagreement on. While I agree we should be working on a renewable energy future, the author wants to drill everywhere and anywhere for oil. I say we should spend those billions that they would use for exploring to invest in the new fuels rather than the old fuels. But yes, we do need to get away from fossil fuels as one day they will run out – and I hope we will be ready.
6. Limit foreign intervention by our government. I agree 100% – there are way too many “bad” regimes for us to go chasing all of them down. And some of them are our allies, so what would we do about them? He says the primary responsibility should rest with the people of any said country, occasionally aided by our military. Stopping aggression and terrorism is one thing, but just going into countries to overthrow dictators we don’t like is awfully expensive when we don’t even have enough money here to take care of ourselves.
7. Improve education. This to me is a no-brainer, as our kids are falling further and further behind most other industrialized nations. If we want to compete, we have to educate our kids. Teachers should be paid more, tuition assistance should be offered to more high school grads, and the cost of education should be moved to state and federal governments rather than on homeowners through property taxes. You have to spend money on education, and it should be done in every school district equally.
8. Provide universal health care. Not to get into that debate again, but every person in this country should have access to good, affordable health care through their employer, an individual policy or a government program. Right now over 46 million Americans don’t have coverage, and that is just embarrassing.
9. Reform immigration. Not by rounding everyone up and kicking them out, but by figuring out a way to integrate them into the legal workforce. Let’s face it – if we rounded up and kicked out every illegal immigrant, you would not have anything to eat nor anything to wear. These are the people working in the fields picking crops and in the factories sewing shirts. Let’s make them legal so they pay taxes into the system!
So, what do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? Coming from a personal finance magazine I didn’t really expect to agree with so many points, but I was pleasantly surprised. Let me know your thoughts on this!