Wednesday, February 09, 2005

How to Shrink the Government

While reading John Stossel’s newest book about big government, I came up with an idea to reliably shrink government.

Libertarians usually demand that the government dismantle existing programs, a difficult feat because the incentive for congressmen to keep them is so strong. Shrinking the government would take decades and span numerous administrations, each with their own agendas and reasons to forget the whole deal.

What’s needed first is a way to stop government expanse (thus preserving the shrinkage victories of past administrations). What I proposal is a pair of constitutional amendments. The first requires a 100% (or 95% to make it more politically feasible) vote in both congressional chambers to raise existing taxes or introduce new ones (but not to lower or remove taxes), plus the normal presidential signature. Let’s call it the Wealth Amendment. The second is an amendment that creates an exception to rules governing amending the Constitution; changing the Wealth Amendment requires a 100% (or 95%) vote in both chambers, instead of the usual two-thirds, plus the presidential signature.

The idea is, it’s now easier to shrink the government than to grow it. And because this requires just one cooperating president paired with just one cooperating Congress, it’s much more feasible relying on many more politicians putting the needs of the many over that of the few. Admittedly, it’s still difficult but by adjusting the incentive structure, it could actually work.

(I'm sure this is not a new idea; I'm curious if our readers could direct to anyone that might have proposed this before me.)

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