As the number of Debt Commissions multiplies and media gasbags generate hurricane-like forces and hysterical fears of government insolvency, I’ve decided to surrender to the madness and propose a fresh, creative approach to debt reduction. My approach has the added value of requiring no budget cuts or tax increases. Instead, the solution will be found in cutting waste and acquiring new revenue sources hitherto unexplored.
And all of these revenues are generated by tapping the hidden potentials of the market place, a solution that will endear this plan to the vast majority of free-market economists and policy jockeys.
In its essence, my program exploits the vast assets currently wasted in our two-party political system. Instead of holding costly primary elections, I propose that we auction off the candidacies for the two parties with all proceeds going to the Federal budget. And instead of holding costly electoral campaigns, we adopt a system based upon cash votes: one vote for every dollar spent. The nine months currently devoted to canned speeches, staged rallies and meaningless debates could serve as an ongoing telethon with the dollars (votes) pouring in with a huge surge near the end. Again, all proceeds would go to the Federal budget. The beauty of this scheme is that the process is totally transparent and the results very likely close to the ones we usually get with the current electoral system.
But there is more: We could sell the naming rights to all of the House and Senate seats. The 18th Congressional District of state X might become the Halliburton or Goldman Sachs seat. The Delaware Senate seats could be sold to Dupont and the credit card industry. The possibilities are endless.
Likewise, the naming rights to departments, public buildings, airports, parks and roads might well generate millions to the Federal government. Admittedly, this might result in some awkward moments – the Richard Nixon Justice Department, the Strom Thurman Equal Rights Commission, etc. – but a small cost for market efficiency!
Instead of all the lobbying money currently wasted on campaign coffers and personal graft, we might consider installing turnstiles in government offices and agencies, charging lobbyists by the hour or earmark.
We might also consider marketizing the judiciary by selling judgeships and auctioning decisions. Undoubtedly, the legal profession would object since there would be little need for private attorneys, but the resultant revenues could go directly to the Federal budget, thus aiding widows and orphans.
The market-based solutions to the widely acclaimed deficit crisis are limited only by our imagination. Instead of slowly choking public education with privatization schemes (charter schools), why not simply construct a government fee schedule that allows youth to buy their way into a future career or profession? Of course, their fees would be refunded if they failed to meet the standards minimally necessary for performance in their fields. Doctors who consistently harm their patients would be asked to purchase a new profession more consistent with public welfare. Surely this would meet the requirements of market rationality.
For those without the funds to bid on prestigious professions, a government lottery could sort out those relegated to low-paying service jobs, those destined for prison, and those unhappily cast out as redundant. As always, the proceeds of this process would go to ease the deficit.
The beauty of this debt-reduction scheme lies in its total transparency. There are no hidden agendas, secret meetings, under-the-table deals; all transactions are in the open. While it produces virtually the same results that current practices deliver, it dispenses with the hypocrisy that infects the present political system. Moreover, the funds currently absorbed by our parasitic class of consultants, political staffers, office holders, campaign professionals, media moguls, etc. are shifted to debt reduction. It is no exaggeration that this market-based approach could produce billions of revenue to bolster the Federal budget.
Some may object, citing the absence of democracy in this approach. But this is a petty complaint, given that the results would most likely be the same as our current way of doing things. Social scientists call this an isomorphism: The processes may appear different, but operate the same and produce the same outcomes. Less kindly, Marxists call our current political system “bourgeois democracy,” a political doctrine that postures as democratic while functioning to produce and reproduce rule by wealth and power.
Undoubtedly, those who persist in defending the current two-party system will be outraged, condemning this proposal as cruelly cynical. Indeed it is. But the option is to reject the vulgar entertainment we accept as democracy and fight for a third peoples’ party or a new democracy. Anything less is rotten with hypocrisy.