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As a nation how much should we tax
ourselves to finance the federal government?
“We the people” should have control of the size of the government under which we live.
The size of the federal government depends on how much money we provide to it by taxing ourselves. If
the demos became the sole agent of taxation in the federal
government, and the federal government were required by constitutional law to restrain its spending to what the demos
specified, then we would gain control over the size of government.
(Actually, as it currently functions, the federal government is quite incapable of controlling its spending or size. There are a few ways in which it functions
that would have to be altered in order to make it capable of managing its size and staying within the spending limits dictated by the demos.
These will be discussed later.)
As part of the partial redesign of our government presented in this book, the
sole power to tax at the federal level would be moved from the other branches of
the government into the demos and into the hands of the entire electorate. Our
current federal system of taxation is incredibly complex, way too complex for
the demos to handle. To make it possible for the electorate to directly set the
size and distribution of the federal tax burden, the tax system would have to be
greatly simplified. Therefore, the entire federal tax labyrinth would be
eliminated and replaced by only three sources of tax revenue: a tax on corporate
and business annual gross revenue, a personal income tax, and a personal
inheritance tax. This done, the demos would then be in a position to control the
size and distribution of the federal tax burden.
Our first demos issue would be to determine the size of the
tax burden. As a nation how much
should we tax ourselves to finance the federal government? In following issues
the electorate will determine the distribution of the tax burden that we have
set upon ourselves.
This first issue’s demos page could display the dollar amount of
money that we taxpayers provided to the federal government during its most
recently completed fiscal year. But for most of us this amount would only be a
curiosity. It would be a meaningless, mind-boggling figure. It would also not be
A percentage figure is much more comprehendible and
serviceable. On this demos issue’s page the amount we taxed ourselves to
finance the federal government would be expressed as a percentage of all private
sector income and revenue earned in the nation. Let us say that this current
percentage figure is 22%. As we shall see in later chapters, this does not mean that every taxpayer would be taxed at this 22% rate,
but that all of the taxes of private individuals, businesses, and corporations
paying taxes at varying tax rates taken as a whole would average out to be 22%.
This issue’s page could also contain small line charts showing these dollar
and percentage figures for preceding years so that voters would readily know if
the federal tax burden has been growing or shrinking in size.
With these figures in mind along with many other personal
thoughts and experiences, the voter would have some idea as to whether a larger
or smaller federal government seemed desirable. In addition, in a manner described
earlier, charts and graphs, pro and con arguments, and every manner of debate
and discussion would be available in the issue’s hierarchy of pages to the
extent that the voter cared to delve into them. Also, the voter will have become
much acquainted with the issue while in high school and likely will have been
bombarded over time by every manner of argument outside the demos, including the
president, representatives, and senators using their
offices as bully pulpits.
Using the 22% figure as an example, the demos question itself might be formulated: By the taxes that we set upon
ourselves, we currently pay on average 22% of all private sector income and
revenue to support the federal government. Do you want this 22% tax rate to be
increased, kept at the current amount, or decreased? Each of the issue’s three options—“Increase,”
at the current amount,” and “Decrease”—would be displayed within a selectable button on the
issue’s demos page. “Increase” would be displayed within a green upward-pointing arrow
button. Below it “Keep at the current amount” would be displayed within a
yellow rectangular or square
button. And below that “Decrease” would be displayed within a red downward-pointing arrow button. The button containing the
voter’s current selection would be highlighted. This same three-button arrangement
would be used for some other issues’ demos pages as well. (Appendix 1
contains a detailed discussion of all of the demos voting methods.)
Since the federal government operates on an annual budget, this demos issue
would have a trigger date. The demos members would haggle and change votes on the issue continuously over time, year in and year out. But it would be the demos consensus as of, say (just for the sake of this discussion), midnight on the last day of each year
that would determine what
percentage amount of our income and revenue is provided to the federal government for its next fiscal year.
In controlling the size of the federal government’s annual budget, over time the demos would control the size of the
federal government itself. If demoses with the sole
power to tax were created at all levels of government, then the demos electorates
would have control over the size of government at all levels. Ultimately, this
would give the demos electorates control over the size of the public sector of
our economy in relation to the private sector.
Always voting in his or her own self-interest, each member of the demos would vote in favor of more or less
government. Those best served by more government should vote in favor of more
taxes; those best served by less government should vote for lower taxes. In
general, that sector of the economy, public or private, would increase that best serves the populace. Business and government could compete for and win the
hearts of the electorate by doing the better job of including and caring for
employees and consumers and by becoming more honest, efficient, and helpful.
Note should be made here about the size of the
federal government. Many people feel that the government is already too large.
Would adding yet another branch, a demos, make it even larger? No. In
fact, the size of government as a whole would shrink considerably.
First, most taxpayers would want to keep taxes
low and the size of the federal government lean. Second, the current plutocracy creates a host of social ills to which it then applies a host of ineffectual
Band-Aids multiplying the size of government (not to mention the amount of misery, paperwork, and effort
demanded of businesses and individuals in the private sector). Also, much of the size of government has to do with the deliberate creation of complexity for the purpose of obfuscation, that is, to make things cloudy and unclear so that
the wealthy may have a labyrinth within which to evade taxation and social
responsibility and to engage in secretive deals and manipulations. In moving taxation into the hands of all of us within the demos and greatly simplifying the system, the increase in the size of government
caused by the addition of the demos would be offset by a dramatic decrease in the size of the
legislative and executive branches of government. Most or at least much of the
physical infrastructure that would be required for a nationwide demos system is
reliable and secure nationwide demos system could cost several billion dollars
to construct, even tens of billions. This may at first glance seem like a lot of money. But it pales in
comparison to the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend and waste annually attempting to repair the immense amount of social damage and misery resulting from
our current plutocracy. The cost of a demos—whatever its cost!—would be one
of the best bargains Americans ever purchased with their taxes.
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Beyond Plutocracy - Direct Democracy for America
© Copyright 2001-2017 Roger D Rothenberger