You may have noticed that I have not published anything since declaring my candidacy last year. There is a very good reason for that. I realized that I declared my intentions to run for president a full 18.5 months before the actual election year, since that was when I turned 35, and my whole campaign is based around the fact that I should be president just because I am finally old enough to run. I thought over two years of campaigning might be a bit much for most voters. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling that already with the candidates who actually have money enough to make themselves known.
So I waited until today, my 36th birthday to revive my campaign. That should be somewhat less painful.
Today, I will share with you one of the innovations I plan to introduce when I am elected. As I was driving home from work the other day, I was listening to news coverage of the various bills that were being debated, passed, and vetoed related to funding the war in Iraq. There is a lot of debate about whether our tax dollars should be funding a war where there really is no hope of victory, a war in a region that has been under conflict for hundreds of years, and a war in a region where the people really don't want us there. The President and certain members of congress seem convinced the American people want to see the war through to victory (whatever that means when the "enemy" is a collection of loosely organized factions whose memberships are constantly shifting), while other members of congress are convinced the American people want their troops to come home.
The fact of the matter is that the people who hold elected office (or who were appointed by those who hold elected office) have no idea what their constituents want. They are so far out of touch with the average person in this country that no amount of public opinion polls, town meetings, and meet-and-greets will put them back in touch.
This started me thinking on how the desires of the American people can be made known to the people who supposedly represent them. That is when I had a brainstorm.
For years, politicians have been talking about giving individuals control over their Social Security contributions, allowing them to invest them as they see fit for their retirement. Why not institute a similar system for our tax dollars?
Here is how it would work. On the revised tax form, there would be a listing for each cabinet department. Most departments would have sublistings as well - for example, the Department of Defense might be separated into research, domestic protection, troop and dependent health and welfare, etc. Each taxpayer would then be able to designate what percentage of their tax payments go to what cabinet area and/or the programs under them. There would also be the option to designate their obligation to be split evenly between cabinet areas.
Under this system, if an individual tax payer opposed the War in Iraq, they could make that fact known by not designating any of their tax obligation to support that war. But, they could still support the troops themselves by designating money to be spent on improvements to military medical facilities. If someone didn't support the domestic wiretapping and spying the Department of Homeland Security supposedly engages in, but wanted to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency they could do so.
Now, I recognize that there are limitations to this system. If everyone chose to give their entire tax obligation to the Department of Education, for example, the country would be in deep trouble. We'd be smart, but we wouldn't be able to function as a people. However, imagine what would happen if the departments and percentages were made public around the time Congress began to debate the national budget. If taxpayers were able to show objectively what programs and inititatives they supported, their representatives might have a harder time passing spending programs that do not mesh with the desires of the people.
This idea is just that at this stage. I'm good at the ideas, not so good at the implementation. That is why I plan to surround myself with the best and the brightest people I know who know how to make things happen. That is what a cabinet should be.
So, stay tuned now. Next time, I'll share my plan for fixing public education in this country.
Remember, my campaign is fictional, but your opportunity to make a difference in the world around you isn't.