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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Debate is Done. Good Day to You.

*addendum 12/31/08 - The plan outlined herein never exactly got finished... frankly, it began to feel pretentious and like it might be a waste of time. It also got boring to string everything out, and planning tomorrow's article today just isn't really how I work best. The short answer is "fix education and you fix everything," and that's why you can't find the 'final' post of this series.*


My name is not, of course, Maxwell Evans. It is a name constructed from my middle name and the street I grew up on, namely Evans Avenue, in Kirkwood, Missouri. I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a major in History. I play and teach the Cello. I'm a photography buff.


The final debate between Barack Obama and John McCain ended several hours ago, and I would like to take this opportunity to make my first post memorable by outlining a theory of mine regarding the nature in which the issues that matter to us all are interrelated. The actual argument will unfold over several posts and terminate in a suggested priority-list for reform within American government and society.

But today, I will begin by merely outlining the theory itself.

My theory is that no single issue is breaking us down. Rather, what has torn us from our perch is that we treat issues such as healthcare reform, education, economy, the war, energy and environment as separate issues. This mind-set has permitted us to squander almost every resource we have through inefficiency, stupidity, greed, or (surprisingly rarely) malice.

As a solution I propose that we should extend the principles of “pay as you go” legislation to more than just the budget.

When we start a war, for example, we should plan in advance which domestic programs are going to have to go, and how much taxes will increase and on whom. There needs to be an acknowledgment, furthermore, that a war of aggression is a gamble. Wise gamblers go into the casino knowing exactly how much they are willing to lose. Before any war of aggression against an opponent (like Iraq) with no possible way of seriously impacting our national security, we should set a spending cap, beyond which we will admit defeat and come home. Victory conditions, furthermore, should be carefully and clearly written down, so we never again find ourselves in a mess where we can’t admit defeat, but victory is undefined.

Money given to an organization must come either from taxes or from another organization. The money cannot come from nowhere as it so often does, and it certainly shouldn’t come from a foreign country. Like a credit-card, huge balances make for huge interest payments, which increases the national debt, cuts down on our ability to fund domestic programs and forces us to increase taxes. Any dollar borrowed is two dollars spent, and when budgeting the interest from the loan should be included when considering the cost/benefit ratio.

If you don’t know exactly how much you’re going to end up paying in the end, you shouldn’t be borrowing at all.

I digress, though. Money isn’t the only impact one policy has on another, and these should be considered as well. Shafting education is a great short-term way to free up funds for something else, but the long-term cost to everything else is devastating. Healthcare reform should focus on prevention not just for cost reasons, but also because this will significantly improve the lives of average Americans, which will in turn improve their net productivity.

A spending freeze right now would be a terrible idea, because not funding certain things actually costs more than funding them. Take road repair, for instance. It is significantly cheaper to keep a bridge in good repair than it is to constantly rebuild it, not to mention the cost in lives when it collapses.

That’s my ten cents for the day.

Tomorrow: Education reform, and how it relates to the economy, the energy crisis, the environment, healthcare reform and more.

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