The Scott Adams Challenge

By James Schaefer.

  Scott Adams, the author of Dilbert, recently had a feature article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “How to Tax the Rich“, and he asked readers to think up incentives that might allow our biggest taxpayers to feel a bit better about dropping hundred-thousand-dollar checks into the ravenous maw of government.  If the wealthy start to feel that they’re getting a raw deal, we’re all in trouble:

“Likely outcome: Your next home will be the box that your laser printer came in.

I hope that you kept it.”

Herewith, then, is one idea.

The top one million wealthy citizens in the United States don’t need Social Security, yet they will likely draw Social Security benefits at the maximum available, currently $3,663 per month or $43,956 per year.  This, over 25 to 30 years of retirement, will total over $1,250,000 over their retired lifetimes.  Each.  And that’s without COLA increases.

One million retirees relinquishing $1.25 million each in Social Security payments would create $1.25 trillion in savings over the next 25 years.

If we expand that pool to the top five million wealthy, representing less than 2% of America’s population and less than 4% of America’s households, the savings from foregone Social Security benefits alone would exceed $6 trillion over the next 25 years.

But wait – there’s more.

If we expand the foregone social benefits to include Medicare, Medicaid, and the Prescription Drug Benefit, the savings become massive.

These four entitlements represent the vast majority of the annual deficit, the cumulative debt, and our nation’s unfunded liabilities.

Alas, here’s the rub: these people will want something in exchange for giving up their social benefits (surprise, surprise).

Constitutional amendments may do the trick, and the momentum is there.  Here are four suggestions:

1) A Balanced Budget Amendment, as advocated by this site and recently introduced in Congress, with exceptions for war, pandemic, or natural disaster

2) A limit on the size of government as a percent of GDP;  20% is being discussed, but 18.2%, the average over the past 40 years, would be nice.

3) A prohibition on government taking (“borrowing”) from public and private pension accounts and personal wealth, including the Social Security trust fund, personal savings, public employee pension funds and personal retirement accounts.

4) A prohibition on government requiring any citizen or resident to engage in commerce; specifically, an amendment overturning  the Supreme Court precedent set in Filburn vs Wickard (1942) [which required a farmer to pay a fine for growing wheat to feed his own livestock, in excess of quotas set by the Agriculture Department, because, in aggregate, his action and that of other citizens would affect the national economy].

As has been noted by many observers, Congress, and the Presidency, and the Judiciary were created by the Constitution, not the other way around.

The Constitution was written —  by the people — to create the form for a federal government with limited, enumerated powers.

Government is a public servant, not a public master.  Please pass the word.

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