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When I'm president, I'll announce a ten year plan to get government out of the business of printing physical money. That will be plenty of time for private industry to migrate to smartphone and debit/credit card payment systems alone. I'll make the move in part to save the government money and make things more convenient for everyone. But the main objective is to reduce dangerous drug use. Once you take paper money out of the system, it becomes very hard for dealers to do what they do without detection.

I'm only talking about the most dangerous recreational drugs. I'll let states decide what they want to do about marijuana. Removing paper money from the system should make it nearly impossible for kids to buy weed without being detected. And in a cashless world, marijuana won't be a gateway drug because there won't be a practical way to buy the hard stuff. (I stole this idea from a friend.)

Having solved the drug problem on the first day of my presidency, I'll have some free time to work on the economy and on healthcare. My plan is to treat those two problems as part of a whole. Allow me to weave this brilliant tapestry of conceptual awesomeness right in front of your eyes.

I'll start by proposing a new tax to any industry in the healthcare field, including businesses involved in fitness, drug rehab, and anything else that directly contributes to wellness. You hate that part of my plan, right? But wait. I'll also propose a tax exemption to this new tax for companies that hire anyone who hasn't had healthcare coverage for the past year, so long as the new job provides health coverage on day one.

The idea still sucks, right? Now you have an obnoxious new federal tax on wellness businesses, and the only way they can duck the tax is by hiring more people than their businesses require. But hold on, the clever part is coming.

Imagine tens of millions of people suddenly becoming new consumers of healthcare and wellness products. That's a lot of money getting pumped into the very industry I'm forcing to do unwanted hiring. Conveniently, the new employees will be needed to handle the new influx of business.

Obviously it's hard to add unskilled and wrong-skilled people to the healthcare industry overnight. The industry would need to provide training in many cases. But I'm defining wellness so broadly that jobs might include gym attendants, helpers to visit the elderly and make sure they take their meds, and other back office work that requires no medical experience.

Let's say this idea is still a big drag on the wellness industry. They simply can't make enough money from the sudden uptick of new business to compensate for the cost of training, paying, and providing health insurance for the new employees. That's where the next part of my plan comes in: I'd propose forcing the rich to buy stock in American companies in the wellness field at whatever amounts my team of crack economists figures would support the stock prices enough to compensate for the cost of adding new employees. Forcing the rich to buy overpriced stock in an industry that is experiencing unprecedented demand isn't nearly as bad as taxing them and then throwing their money down a government hole. The rich would have a decent chance of making a good return on their mandatory healthcare stock purchases in the long run. And it's harder for a multimillionaire to whine about forced stock ownership compared to direct taxation.

Obviously this sort of plan would need lots of attention to prevent abuse. You don't want companies hiring a new employee and firing an existing one the same day just to get the tax benefits.  I'd propose substantial whistleblower rewards to prevent cheating, and stiff penalties for the offending companies. Most of the bigger companies wouldn't take the risk of gaming the system and getting caught. And I'd exempt smaller companies from this plan.

Clearly there would be plenty of resistance to this complicated government plan because many citizens believe the government ruins whatever it touches. I am sympathetic to that view. But keep in mind that the government is already deeply into the businesses of healthcare and taxation and economic stimulation. I'm just suggesting the government could do it more effectively by goosing one particular industry in the right direction.

The magic of this plan is that the healthcare and wellness field is one of the few that could absorb vast numbers of relatively unskilled workers. That's true in part because it's a profitable industry, and partly because it requires so much human interaction. A robot can't draw blood samples, drive grandma to her doctor's appointment, teach a fitness class, or manage a rehab center. I assume most of the new employees to this field would be diverted to the fields of prevention as opposed to standard medical practice. And we know that prevention is better economics than treatment, so everyone wins.

I can also imagine companies getting creative in terms of what qualifies as health and wellness. A new employee might be asked to set up single-purpose Skype systems for elderly people living at home, so they can be reminded to take meds, and checked on regularly. Maybe another job involves organizing a neighborhood to take daily walks. It wouldn't be hard to create new jobs in that field.

When that many unemployed people get absorbed into the workforce it stimulates the economy and puts the budget back on a healthy trajectory. If you're keeping count, so far I've solved the drug problem, healthcare, unemployment, the sluggish economy, and the budget deficit. That takes care of my first month on the job as President of the United States.

Next I'd deal with those pesky Iranians by offering college scholarships in the United States for the children and grandchildren of the top leaders in the Iranian military and government. My theory is that kids are the only topic with enough emotional power to make a parent forget everything that seemed important yesterday. Sure, the Iranian leaders might want to destroy the Great Satan and the Little Satan too, but what they want even more is for their kids to have world-class educations. In the short run, the offer of college scholarships might make the Iranian leaders more flexible about nukes. In the long run, the cross-pollination would be healthy. And even if the Iranians say no to the idea, it's hard to fully commit to hating a country that makes that sort of offer.

By my sixth month in office, I would run out of problems to solve.

 
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Jun 22, 2012
the education plan for iranian leaders is good. also keeps them from raining nukes down on our and their childrens heads and acts as an early warning system. (if they all go home for a 'holiday' we go to Defcon 2)... we can shut down most of our spy satellites, and just track college attendence ;-)


I think the key issue is globalizing our economy shrinks our tax base. I think we should require 'social security tax' on all products produced overseas, and sold in the U.S. Social Security is a huge Ponzi, so we need to broaden the base;-)... This will also force jobs back home, as it will be cheaper to pay SSI on real wages, than on the retail price.

And the 1% can't get away... I think our president must require the top 1% to hire people at at least minimum wage (you've raised that to $10/hour) from the bottom 50% (median) income, and pay them 1% of their gross income (wages, dividends, interest, tax credits, cap gains). These have to be direct hires, not through corporations. If they want to own the term 'Job Creators' they have to 'man up' and prove it. If they don't, we tax their entire portfolio (current holdings) 1% (heck that's less than most 'wealth management companies). Any income they get from that 1% investment is tax free (so if a billionaire makes 247Million last year, they have to hire 124 people this year, and pay them 2.47 million. Remember these have to be 124 'direct employees' (we can start a new 501c1% tax-shelter corporation. Hail the job creators.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
Several blog posts ago, we all had fun discussing how badly the lawyers run the government.

The "solutions" in your proposal shed some light on why it might not be a good idea to hand the government over to optimistic engineers either.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
Scott,
I've been a fan of yours for years, and you have certainly had some innovative ideas for bettering the world. However, if there is an oversight that is common to you and your rival Presidential candidates it is this:

Not every American lives in a city.

Here in the mountains of East Tennessee, we do have the Internet and even universities. But we occasionally have the need to stand in the bed of our pick-up truck to get cell-phone reception. And when we drive 20 miles to the nearest restaurant, we can't count on using a credit card because it is either "too expensive" for the restaurant to provide or their "dial-up is down today".

Also, here in these parts, illicit drugs are not always purchased with money. Perhaps more often, the trade involves stolen lawn mowers and rusted car parts.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
The cashless strategy seems flawed if only because it assumes that there's going to be no barriers to entry for accepting payment. It means that anyone who wants to pay somebody is probably going to get dinged at some end for a transaction fee. I can't see companies like Paypal keeping the "gift" option if there's no cash to compete with... Never mind the issues if a payment system goes down, or if there's no reliable internet connection, even with 3G. (For instance, say, at a convention or something.)

Never mind the problems it creates with teaching money management. I'd argue it's easier to teach if you have a physical currency rather than an abstract number on a screen. But then, that's just my own opinion without any factual/analytical backing.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
Scott,

Is the situation in your country so bad that any idea is welcome?

In that case, let me suggest a few:

1. Demand that all men behave like men - as in men who make things happen.

2. Drugs may not be the issue. A permissive society, a corruption of the fundamental rights, may be the root cause.

3. Ask why overseas investments give more returns than inland.

4. What sort of nation has the largest part of its budget reserved for its armed forces?

5. Its not about the currency. It's the quality of the trade. Did you take something for granted in the '60s? Like, intelligence?

6. A nation has the same respect as its citizen has. The two are not exclusive. Have you traveled outside the US lately? Bullying works indoors.

.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
I believe PeterZeroOne is on to something with point #2. I'm not much for buying into conspiracy theories, but here is one from Martin Armstrong.

http://www.martinarmstrong.org/files/Real Conspiracy/index.htm

Something tells me we should be listening to this guy. Read more of his writings about government and the global economy and you'll see what I mean. Yes, I know, he's a convicted felon, bad speller, etc., but my Spidey-sense tells me this guy knows what he is talking about, especially after seeing his analysis of how much history repeats itself.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
Might be hard to get elected without the votes of all those citizens currently being paid cash off the books to avoid taxes.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
How about setting each person's Federal Income Tax rate to match their BMI (Body Mass Index)? Now if people want lower taxes they've got to earn it by losing weight, and thus helping out the healthcare crisis and the obesity epidemic.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
About your plan to curb substance abuse by eliminating printed cash:

1. The poster above talked about alternative currencies. They don't have to be Confederate Dollars or Zoo Dollars or whatever. How about gold or diamonds? A simple chemical test determines the chemical composition of a piece of gold, a small scale determines its' value. The same scale you have handy for the other transaction that takes place.

[Clearly there will be some degree of leakage, but I can't see junior getting his hands on blood diamonds to buy ecstasy. -- Scott]

2. Your plan would throw millions into poverty. Right now, I'm sure there are poor people who work in the service industry who deservedly keep cash tips to themselves and don't report them as income. Your plan would take that money away, and transfer it to a bloated and well-compensated government bureaucracy.

[95% of restaurant bills are paid by credit card already. The days of hiding tips from the government are ending on their own. Hotel tipping needs to end anyway because customers hate it when tip-hungry workers paw at their luggage. Just add a few bucks to my hotel bill, please. -- Scott]

3. The nouveau-poor you helped create would, depressingly, turn to more dangerous substances. Google "Labrador Innu Gasoline Sniffing" for more. Or shift to legal vices like combining benzodiazepines with alcohol.

[Wouldn't they just buy their heroine with blood diamonds per your first comment? How about some consistency here? -- Scott]

4. Everyone would have to have a smart phone tied to a unique identity determined probably by biomarker, like fingerprints or retina scans. You would face opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Paranoid right wingers would be opposed. And so would the Left, which in the US depends on illegal immigration to grow its constituent base since they barely reproduce. Surely you wouldn't be able to introduce amnesty just by executive fiat. But seriously, there would be serious economic and social consequences if the cash compensation to illegal immigrants was made trackable. Or if everyone who snuck into the United States was given de facto legal residency.

5. And finally- are you seriously suggesting that educating elite Iranians at US universities is going to make them less hostile to the US? They're breeding grounds of anti-Americanism. Besides, Yamamoto was educated at Harvard and he still decided to attack Pearl Harbor. And that's when American universities were still somewhat patriotic.

[Did he attack America while his kids were going to school here? That's the key. -- Scott]
 
 
-6 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
You're proposing fixing a broken machine (capitalism) by shaking it around.

Why not instead work on providing free food, shelter, and infrastructure to everyone? This could be accomplished by a kind of National Service.

Automatically, you'd have fixed the economy, elimated poverty and unemployment, reduced working hours necessary to ensure a living, and you'll have made work more satisfying for everyone.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
So you consider anonymous transactions to be a defect in the current system? Fail.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
Alternative currencies are already in place, and you can always use detergent to launder (pun intended) your illicit income into useable currency! - http://boingboing.net/2012/03/13/tide-is-the-new-currency-on-th.html
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
"That's where the next part of my plan comes in: I'd propose forcing the rich to buy stock in American companies in the wellness field at whatever amounts my team of crack economists figures would support the stock prices enough to compensate for the cost of adding new employees. "

Depending on the Supreme Court decision next week on "Obamacare", you may not be able to force anyone to participate in a market. So is there a Plan B for if your "make the rich buy healthcare stock" piece is ruled unconstitutional?
 
 
+14 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
...Dude, if all we needed to solve our problems were good ideas we would have been out of problems to solve ages ago. What we need is the will to implement the ideas we have and the will to get rid of the ideas we tried that didn't work. Do you have some very good idea for getting us that?
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
You're forgetting that little step of getting your program passed through Congress. It's a pain, yes, I know, but that step explains a lot about why presidents seem so lame to those of us who know exactly how to fix everything.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
"When I'm president, I'll announce a ten year plan to get government out of the business of printing physical money.
...
Once you take paper money out of the system, it becomes very hard for dealers to do what they do without detection."

Two of the most dangerous types of people that depend upon the anonymity of cash are drug dealers and politicians.
 
 
Jun 22, 2012
Your cashless society will not work because of Alternative Currencies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_currency). In place of the official money (smart phones? Only in America will every man woman and child have a personal phone!) alternative currencies, or "Drug Currencies" as I like to think of them will sprout up in different regions. Possessing this drug currency will indicate you are somehow involved in the drug culture, but of course, that doesn't mean anything without proof (i.e. drug posession). Commercial enterprises will accept drug currencies because money is money.

[You think the dry cleaner will accept Confederate currency (or whatever) because money is money? -- Scott]
 
 
+15 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
Wait, your solution to the drug problem is to enable Big Brother to monitor every single transaction ever undertaken by anyone in America? Sorry, I'm voting for Bill and Opus.

[Are you worried that your hit man won't accept a credit card? What the hell are you up to? -- Scott]
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2012
After your first 6 months, you're welcome to come vacation in Wyoming for the next 3.5 years. It's a beautiful place of nothing.
 
 
 
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