Jason Moran
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
  Entitlement and Mandatory Service
After last night's State of the Union address by George W, I was reflecting on some of the items suggested in my previous post What Would You Do As President?

I want to think about entitlement and mandatory service. The talking points from that post follow:
It is very obvious that the entitlement programs are bankrupting the government and something, somewhere is gonna have to give at some point.

Bush has one plan: privatize social security savings. The first bullet point simply decides to drop it. It doesn't really provide any details, but I'm sure a complete removal of social security while allowing grandfathered recipients to stay on would cause quite an uproar. Perhaps he means more of a phased diminishing of what we currently know as social security until it gets to a point where it no longer exists as we currently know it.

Medicare/Medicaid is another entitlement program that costs bazillions of dollars. I mean, I guess we don't want all of our nation's seniors to be forgotten and left to die because their medical expenses are too expensive (yes, I know seniors are not the only users of those programs...).

What are the alternatives? Nationalized health care? Privatized Medicare programs? Letting people get sick and die long before they would if health care was provided for them?

I don't even want to get into other entitlement programs like welfare, but let's just say that lots of money gets spent by the government on citizens that put far less into the system than they are now receiving. It's a small case of take from the rich and give to the needy.

How can the government pay for all of it?

It reminds me of JFK when he said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". When everything is boiled down the government can only do things that it has the resources to do. Those resources come from the people. We usually think of resources as dollars, so that translates to various taxes. However, it could also mean "free" service to the country.

Israel requires all of it's citizens to participate in mandatory military service. That applies to both males AND females. This is addressed by the last two bullet points. Mandatory civil service is a much more realistic concept than mandatory military service so more diverse opportunities would be made available to those required to serve. Mandatory boot camp is a separate but interesting concept. This would actually cost the government more money than it would possibly raise. However, I can immediately see a handful of benefits:

The other option is to have greatly increased taxation levels - much more than today. We are talking at least an extra $1000/person every year. Minimum.

Which choice sounds the best? Eliminating or drastically changing entitlement programs, creating mandatory civil service, or dramatically increasing taxes? Probably some combination, but how would it look?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
  What Would You Do As President?
A bunch of people responded to the question What would you do as president of the United States of America?

I compiled a list of some of the interesting responses here (I'll be talking about a few of these in detail in a future post). I don't necessarily agree with all of these, but they are interesting to think about -- even if many are not feasible.

You can read more at slashdot

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Friday, January 11, 2008
  Cutting Out The Excess
So, I don't understand why we have less money every month than the month before. A year ago I had $10K in the bank, 5 months ago I had $3K in the bank, this month I have $17.00 in the bank. If this trend continues I will have a lot of debt collectors bugging me starting next month.

I figured it out.

I create a real budget-- using actual bank / credit card statements to determine what we really spend month to month. Now it all makes sense, here is why we are losing out money:

We spend more per month than we make.

It doesn't feel like we are living lavishly, and we used to have money -- so what changed? My wife stopped working, but we kept on living at the exact same lifestyle.

A cup of Starbucks here and there or a night out for dinner and drinks a few times a week had been adding up to a considerable amount of money. Somehow, without buying cars, HDTVs, or really anything we have found a way to spend more than I earn.

Now it's a big game of cutting out the excess in our lives, making everything efficient, staying home more, going out for coffee less, and figuring out how not to go into debt. Where's Dave Ramsey when you need him?


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