My fellow Americans, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the world we live in. Maybe too much time. I believe I have the answers. I can turn our sluggish economy around. I know that my ideas won’t fix the world overnight, and I won’t even be old enough to run for president this election. But it doesn’t matter. I’m saying something, which is more than you can say about most of the politicians in this country. So with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek (making sure to leave enough room in my mouth for my foot) I give to you the remedy for the current fiscal crisis, neatly summed up by seven amazing ideas that we need to implement ASAP.

1. It’s Time to Re-think the Tax Code – No, I’m not some idiotic libertarian raving about how we need to get rid of the IRS and go with a “flat tax” that would inevitably penalize the ones who have the least. No, my friends, I’m calling for a graduated tax system. We already have the framework in place. The federal government taxes things like sports cars and mansions extravagantly, labeling it a “luxury tax.” Many states, such as my own, tax food at a lower level than non-food. So why not implement this across the board? Tax the necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter, transportation – as low as you can, and then make up for it with a graduated luxury tax. A loaf of bread could get taxed at one cent per dollar, but if you really insist on caviar and prime rib, expect to pay upwards of 20 cents on the dollar. A basic pair of shoes could get taxed at five cents, but a pair of Air Jordans would set you back 30 cents per dollar. A system like this would reward people who make sound financial decisions and charge those who already have a lot to spend more for their luxuries. Classifying things such as expensive shoes as the luxury items they are would bring in millions more in tax revenue, but not at the expense of those who can only afford the bare minimum.

2. Get Rid of the Penny – Canada has already decided to do this exact thing. You see, it costs more than a penny to mint a penny. Most times they end up in the street or in the change holder in your car, covered with Slushy and god knows what else. Why not get rid of them? It would save the mint a ton of money each year, and with businesses now rounding things up to the nearest five cent increment, it could pump millions of dollars into the economy overnight.

3. Tax Churches – Religious organizations have had it too easy for too long. Sure, one can argue, they do a lot of good for those in need. But they also spend a lot of money on things like salaries, gigantic and elaborate buildings, laser light shows, Power Point slide shows, rock bands, and stupid shirts and mugs with their logos on them. Churches these days are run like businesses, with many selling CD’s and books in the lobby. Pastors are bragging about the number of cars they own and how God has blessed them financially beyond their wildest dreams. All of it at our expense. I say we separate The Church That Does Good from The Church That Makes Money and then liberally tax the latter. Only charitable and humanitarian work should be tax-free, and in my opinion this does NOT include spreading your beliefs. When your church builds a house in Central America or hands out soup at a homeless shelter, you can do it tax-free. But when you’re selling a DVD of this week’s sermon, building a social hall, paying off your priest’s Bently, or handing out religious tracts with silly cartoon characters telling you about your eternal destiny, you had better expect to pay taxes on all of it.

4. Reduce and/or Eliminate Presidential and Congressional Pensions – This one should be a no-brainer. Look, I appreciate your service to this country and your leadership. But when you’re done, you’re done. Our government pays former presidents and congressmen their salary FOR LIFE. Take a look at former presidents like Bill Clinton. He’s an in-demand speaker, a top guest on television shows, and a published author. The man has a net worth in the billions, and he keeps making more and more each year. Yet our government still pays his salary every year until he kicks the bucket. At the very least we should reduce such pensions, but realistically speaking we should just do away with them altogether. If after four (or eight) years of making $400,000 a year you’re not financially stable, that isn’t my problem anymore. Return to earth and live like the rest of us. Except much, much richer thanks to all the money you get from public speaking and TV appearances.

5. Lower and Cap the Price of Cigarettes – Okay I understand this one sounds crazy, but bear with me. Tobacco is one of the single largest industries in the world, and every year it grows, thanks in part to rising prices. This money is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people, as companies continue to merge and buy each other out. Every smoker says “when the price gets to _____ I’ll quit,” yet this never seems to happen. Anyone who has ever known a smoker will attest to the fact that, when faced with a limited budget, a smoker will cut back everywhere EXCEPT on cigarettes. Both of my parents smoked, so did my sister, and now my brother does. Many of my close friends and coworkers smoke. I’ve seen it a million times. When the price of cigarettes goes up, smokers will say things like “well kids, I guess we can’t order pizza this weekend, because I need my smokes,” or “On second thought, I won’t be taking that vacation, money is just too tight now.” When smokers (a big chunk of the population) cut back on expenses, they hurt primarily the service industry, which is already in bad shape as it is. But mark my words, if the price of cigarettes were lowered and then capped so they could not rise above a certain level, more smokers would go to the movies, go out to eat, stay in hotels. The best part about it is, rather than helping a small number of companies that are already posting record profits, they would put money back into the economy in the very sectors that need a jump the most. When smokers order pizza and tip the delivery guy, he has more money and then goes out and spends, and it creates a cycle that boosts the sagging service industry across the board. All while taking money from greedy CEO’s who peddle cancer in the form of glamour to our children. Sounds like a win-win to me.

6. Give Unemployed People Jury Duty – This is another idea that sounds strange, but the more I think about it the more I wonder why no one has done it before. I don’t know what the current rate of pay for jury duty is, but last time I checked it was $12 a day. I can’t imagine it would be too much higher today. Even someone working a short shift at a minimum wage job makes more than $12 a day. When we get jury duty, it’s like a crazy pay cut. If the trial drags on for any length of time, that can mean a drastic reduction in spending money, which causes people to cut back on spending. But what about the millions of unemployed people? The ones who are getting unemployment benefits are getting paid monthly, not daily. And then there are those whose benefits have run out, or who for some reason or another were denied to begin with, who don’t get paid at all. If those people were to suddenly have $12 a day, what do you think they would do? Chances are they’d spend it. Thousands of unemployed people suddenly spending money every day would be a huge boost to the economy, no?

7. Completely Revamp the Interstate Highway System – Okay so now we’re getting really crazy. However, this idea is so crazy it just might work. Remember, as a part of the recovery projects begun during the New Deal and continuing over the next few decades, our nation’s highway system changed everything. It helped pull us out of the Depression, put millions of people to work, and connected our country like never before. The crown jewel of the highway system is without a doubt the Interstate system, a system that runs across every state and makes once hard to reach places practically a part of our own back yard. But where am I going with this? The Interstate system is already in existence, and maintenance projects are being done all over the country as we speak. What I propose is to build TWO MORE INTERSTATE SYSTEMS. These two new highway systems would run parallel to the existing highways. Their purpose would be simple – not only to put millions of Americans to work, but to save lives. Let’s face it, passenger cars, motorcycles, and big rig tractor trailers all driving on the same highway is a recipe for disaster. It’s just not sensible to ask three very different types of vehicles to share the same road. Build one interstate for motorcycles and one for big rigs. This would increase the safety of our highways dramatically, cutting down on all sorts of scary collisions and fatalities. And best of all, it would be the single largest public works project ever undertaken, putting millions to work and giving them a steady job for years to come. Our highway system would be the envy of the world, not only for its safety, but also for the income it generates.

If you’ve stayed with me this long, you realize that my economic plan is nothing if not a work of brilliance. It is now your patriotic duty to get out there and promote these ideas for the next four years until I am elected your king president. Thank you.

 

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