Government is likely to work better when it is as close as possible to the governed. Thus, while national defense requires coordination by the central government, drainage ditch decisions do not. This principle of federalism can be expressed quite simply: The federal government's proper role is limited to carefully defined and constitutionally legitimate problems beyond the reach of the individual states.
Almost all business decisions involve some measures of costs versus benefits. Yet many governmental decisions are taken without adequate consideration of either. That is one reason the private sector is more efficient and productive than government.
The 42 million-plus Americans age 60 and over represent a vast store of human capital, rich in talent and ability. Yet this valuable resource is increasingly wasted. If elderly workers under the age of 70 want to improve their standard of living or continue using their work experience and skills, the government takes the bulk of their additional wages through special taxes.
Changes in tax rates affect how hard and long people work and how much they save and invest. But the official revenue-estimating arms of government ignore this fact in making their calculations. They assume that earnings and saving behaviors will stay exactly the same regardless of the tax rate.
Many married couples pay more taxes than they would if they were unmarried. This penalty can amount to several thousand dollars per year even for moderate-income families. President Clinton's tax increase in 1993 made the problem worse.
Social Security benefits were entirely free of taxes until 1983, when Congress voted to tax 50 percent of benefits above a certain income level. President Clinton raised this to 85 percent in 1993. The new Republican Congress has promised, as one of its first actions, to repeal the Clinton tax increase on Social Security recipients.
Public opinion polls show most people recognize that the current welfare system has utterly failed and are thoroughly disgusted with it. They would overwhelmingly support radical reform including spending reductions.
Is the public's mounting fear of crime justified? For the most part, the answer is yes. There are at least 10 things to know about crime in America today.
America already has over-politicized environmental issues. It would be inappropriate to divert even more resources to uncertain or nonexistent "problems." However, if the government assumes its proper role and explores property rights-based solutions to pollution, a decentralized, self-policing process can arise.