Investment Politics 2008
What's (left) In Your Wallet?
Investment Politics 2008: What's (left) In Your Wallet?
by Steve Selengut
The parade of promises is marching down Main Street. For too many months to come, politicians of all descriptions, parties, and ideologies will be courting our votes... they have the cure for all that is wrong in the world, they tell us. With crystal clear hindsight, every candidate criticizes the decisions of every incumbent, from the Town Council of Podunk to The Presidency itself. You've heard it all before; it never changes. But we all know that little will be accomplished. Ten years from now, we'll be grumbling about the same things that bothered us ten years ago! But we listen to (and sometimes even believe) the same garbage, campaign after campaign. Aren't you tired of this cycle of frustration? If you thought you could make a difference, would you try?
As Investors, we represent the single biggest voter block in the country. Of the 250 million (+ or -) voting age Americans, no less than 75% have some form of investment portfolio plus an interest in the illusory Social Security Trust Fund. Investors have the power to elect the next president, change the tax code, fix Social Security, and strengthen the economy. We have the power to produce significant changes in our society, but we need to start sending the right message to politicians... collectively, constructively, and quickly. In this rapidly "flattening" world, our non-leaders (in both parties) are unwittingly making us less competitive globally, more protectionist at home, and less attractive to foreign investment than ever before. It's no wonder that we export more rhetoric than we do goods and services...
In addition to being Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, etc, why not pledge our allegiance to the multi-partisan "MT~BSW" Supra-Party. This (hypothetical) political party could well become the first choice of most investors, regardless of their portfolio size. Investors must respond in one voice to the endless political drivel with a resounding "Money Talks, BS Walks". We are tired of trite promises, and circus sideshow antics. As Investors, we want less government, no name-calling, and fewer regulations. We want decision makers who design laws that aid economic freedoms, not lawmakers who make decisions that restrict them. Incumbent bashing is not a political platform and neither is picking the pockets of the most productive members of society. We want a change in attitude and we will fire those who don't appreciate the problem. The MT~BSW Party can rebuild a productive government, and without nominating our own representatives.
The writing is on Walls of Congress, and it is telling us that we need to replace old school power politicians with a new breed of decision-making managers who can lead us back to the creative space in the global economy that we once dominated. Here's the MT~BSW "Financial Plan" for the 2008 Election... Dot Connectors Wanted:
The first step is to get the politicians out of Politics. Leave the "newbies" alone on the assumption that they still have the ability to think for themselves. But do what you can to get rid of any two-term person in any elected position, anywhere, regardless of name or party affiliation. If they've been in office that long, and Social Security Payments are still taxable, they do not share our agenda. Next, absolutely do not vote for any new person who has not issued a brief (300 words or less) (personally written and delivered under some form of oath) (in adult English without legalese) position statement on each of the following list of Ten Issues that we, as Investors, consider of primary importance if we (the US of A) are to continue as the most powerful economic force in the world.
The MT~BSW Party demands reform, change, and improvement in government attitudes toward investors. We will not support any candidate, regardless of party affiliation, who does not pledge to work toward a return to government that supports the principles of Capitalism, and rewards productivity, ingenuity, and creativity, as much as it respects the needs of the sick, the poor, and the environment. Briefly (but to be expanded upon in future articles):
1. Investment Income: Abolish the taxation of all forms of investment income at all levels, Federal, State, or Local. This includes all rents, royalties, interest, dividends, capital gains, etc. Similarly, abolish taxation of any form of retirement income... regardless of source.
2. Corporate Income Tax: Eliminate the Corporate Income Tax... and observe the increase in employment and employee compensation that follows.
3. Social Security Reform: Take Social Security out of the Public Sector and replace it with a mandatory, Deferred, Fixed-Annuity program within the private sector, funded by a 2% or less employee only premium. Absolutely never allow access to these retirement annuity accounts prior to retirement.
4. Tort Reform: Reform Tort Law at every level, and protect both businesses and individuals from frivolous lawsuits. Adopt a rule of personal responsibility for one's own stupidity, ignorance, and clumsiness.
5. Estate & Gift Taxes: Eliminate Estate and Gift Taxes at all levels. Find a way to reward charitable contributions through 25% government matching payments.
6. Government Regulation: Examine the destructive economic impact of Government Regulation and oversight in many industries, particularly small business practitioners in personal services fields. Provide an arbitration and review system to identify and control abuses of regulatory power and a separate Department in each agency to deal with Small Business entities.
7. Obscene Executive Compensation: Adopt Amount Guidelines and Tax Rules that will control abusive Corporate Executive Compensation levels, and which would include all forms of compensation not available proportionately to all employees and/or shareholders.
8. Federal Income Tax Reform: Revise, rewrite, and actually simplify the Internal Revenue Code, starting with a top rate of 25% on income, a general non-specific single deduction and no subsection of more than two sentences or with more than two levels of subsections.
9. Size of Government: Reduce Government Staff at all levels by at least 10% per year for the next three to five years.
10. Individual Retirement Plans: Combine all forms of voluntary Employee and personal retirement programs into one IRA plan with tax deductible contributions up to a $5,000 per year limit per person (employed or not).
Of course there can be more than ten planks in the Investors' MT~BSW platform, but let's have some fun with these. Maybe some of you will get real serious about it and actually make change happen. I welcome your contributions to later articles, and your efforts to spread the "investors' manifesto" however you can.