MORE DETAIL: Five Principles for Great Governance with more detail:
Self Limiting Campaign Contributions
To further assure that individuals, rich or poor, have access to the political debate, and since no political party, nor the Supreme Court, would or should minimize the contributions of any individual, the New Party shall self-regulate donations, limiting contributions to $195 per political entity or less. If you are Joe Average American, the maximum contribution is $195. NRA – $195. Planned Parenthood, George Soros, the Koch Brothers, unions – $195.
For any other party, the recommendation will be that all Campaign Finance laws be eliminated. If the parties want to collect millions from the very rich, that is fine. The government should not limit anyone’s speech in any way. The only requirement should be that the transactions are as transparent as a stock transaction. The giver and receiver should be known and the knowledge of the transaction should be freely available. The other parties should be able to gorge themselves on money and the New Party’s approach will indict this practice for what it is – rent-seeking and power mongering.
2. Liberty as the catalyst of greatness in all things
When we are free, and only when we are free, only then will the opportunity for greatness for everyone be possible. Freedom is the basis for economic opportunity and growth. Freedom is essential for a healthy society. Freedom is crucial to a dynamic and rich culture. The only challenge to our freedom is government.
3. Decentralized Power to Protect Freedom: Limited Federal Government
Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote that ‘man was born free but forever in chains.’ Translation: once you arrive in this world someone is going to be telling you what to do. Most always, if this isn’t your wife (or husband), it’s the federal, state and local governments. Government is the enemy of liberty, whether too little (think – Articles of Confederation) or too much – our current expanding giant, a strong central government that has its tentacles in everything.
Thomas Jefferson believed it was the natural proclivity of government to acquire more power at the expense of individual liberty. This has been the case for America. Compared to our early federal footprint, today’s government is an unrecognizable Leviathan. Freedom and government are at odds with each other, so it must be the mission of political parties not just to field a team of candidates to win positions in the branches of government, but to assure that government keeps inside its designated boundaries. The founding fathers believed they had designed a Constitution whose boundaries would not easily be exceeded, but each branch has grossly mishandled this responsibility.
Government comes in a continuum of styles from harsh, leftist and dictatorial tyrannies at one end of the spectrum to free, liberal and civil democracies on the other. On the Leftist end, micromanagement of our lives is the rule. On the Classical Liberal end, the one our Founding Father’s designed in the Constitution, empowerment of the people is the basis for a free and dynamic nation. Great leadership empowers the populace. Great leaders provide a few rules to live by and then allows ‘ingenious commoners’ to execute on their objectives. ‘If you need help, or get stuck, let me know. I am here to help.’ There is much trust between the leader and the public – between the government and the people, trust of which we are desperately short today.
Not so great leaders have rules upon rules upon rules, then watch ominously over your shoulder as you process through the tasks of the day. If something is executed outside the endless array of rules, the boss admonishes. If a decision needs to be made, about anything, the boss must be engaged. As you can imagine, this style is not only a miserable environment to work in, it is highly unproductive. This, though, is the way of the Left. There is no trust of the worker bees. Obama’s administration has been the poster child for the soft tyranny of the left, the one we voter for.
Great leaders naturally distribute power. Poor leaders unnaturally centralize power and decision making.
Decentralization of power is crucial to defeating the notion: ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ If Washington seems corrupt today, it is because the consumption of power is so great that the presumption of guilt goes with the consumption of power. It is no wonder barely 20% of Americans trust government. So how does a political party put a cap on power consumption, of the rent-seeking so common among our politicians?
See principles #1 and #2. Limit political pandering with limited donations will help. As important the culture of governance in all three branches needs to focus on empowering the states and the citizens, providing choice and options, not monolithic social and regulatory agencies with one-size fits all micro-management. Free societies thrive because its citizens are provided the power and the choice to runs their own lives with a minimum of Rousseau’s chains of government.
This isn’t rocket science. We just need a different brand of people in Washington with a different approach to governance.
4. Market-Based Solutions for Private and Public Policy
Markets and liberty are two peas in a pod. Markets allow comment men (and women) to vote every day for those products and services that delight them. Voting isn’t just about the political markets (yes, politics is a market.) Our society, our economy and our culture are also markets that where each day our votes decide what will fail and what will succeed.
The reason markets work better than socialism is that markets fuel the free flow of ideas: economic, social, and cultural. And socialism kills ideas in favor or one-size-fit all solutions. A few examples may help.
The incipient throes of Internet technology had been loping around inside the military for a generation before it sprang to life in 1990 when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. You know, www.whatever.com. Then the explosion of technology became available to everyone, including entrepreneurs that would improve the web daily. There was no regulation. Congress wisely passed the Internet Tax Freedom Act in 1998 which kept state, local and federal tax gorgers off the backs of internet entrepreneurs. What resulted? Vast pools of new ideas for commerce and communications.
On the side of entrepreneurism are government mandated monopolies. AT&T, during its decades’ long run as the monopoly of choice for telephone communications, was a case study for how one-size fits all appears to provide great benefit until deregulation is the option of choice. When AT&T owned the market, a long distance call from one side of the country to the other cost a few dollars a minute. A data line, for instance a T-1 moving information at 1.544 Mbps) costs thousands. On the flip side, dial tone, a simple phone, was inexpensive priced at less than $20 a month. As a regulated monopoly the government mandated that phones were cheap so everyone could afford one. The low price resulted from revenue shifting from long distance. Most everyone loved AT&T services. And then came deregulation and consumers got a whiff of the high cost of their bills. Deregulation brought competition, and prices for data and long distance dropped. With the internet’s entry into markets, long distance is now zero, dial tone if you want it is as little as $35 a year, and for about $50 a month, your cell can make and transmit pictures, be used to watch movies, get email, text, tweet and god knows what. Deregulation provided a flood of ideas from entrepreneurs and dollars from investor. Monopolies like government are innovation killers. Government social monopolies, as one might expect, have also worked poorly. Social Security, Medicare, Medicare, Welfare, our Schools, all are underperforming substantially and are giant financial train wreck.
Markets work because the flow of ideas joining with private investment produces the most efficient results. Good products that delight create growth and jobs. Markets work because it is democratic. We get to vote one these ideas every day, whether what type of bread we eat, or which cell phone we buy, or what web ap we favor. Everyday day, new ideas, and new votes. And when we don’t like the product, it dies a natural death making way for more ideas and more investment.
Leftists believe they have all the ideas, and your vote isn’t required.
Markets are important to every function in our lives, economics, products, social society, civil society, law, culture, everything.
If you want a better education, open up the market to new choices. If health care is questionable…open the markets. If the retirement system is moving toward financial failure, open up the choices.
If the political parties are failing you, try a new party, in fact, try the New Party.
Markets provide for both success and failure, but the final result of the markets is always success because no one is voting for the failure. It is such a great and easy system. It produces an abundance of ideas, of wealth, of productivity, of choice, and freedom. Which takes us back to our crucial national building block. Call it the Goldilocks’ Effect: Test-result, test-result, test-result – Success. When the entrepreneur can try and try again, and we can vote and vote again on whether the entrepreneur’s efforts delighted us, quality at a reasonable price is always the result.
5. A Strong Military: Peace Through Strength
As free nations develop great wealth and giant reservoirs of knowledge, other nations, whose cultures are robbed of freedom, will seek to destroy our way of life.
If you don’t want to fight, make sure your physical presence is formidable. Peace through Strength is nothing new. The phrase’s use stretches back to first-century Roman Empire. Reagan used the phrase. It was the motto of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. Its subtle meaning – the best war ever fought is the one that never comes to blows. Overwhelming military superiority means fewer fights, and short battles when military force is required.
As America owns the jewel of the world; Freedom, and its treasures – our wealth of both dollars and ideas. To assure that America retains these jewels, a strong, agile, innovative military is essential to the long-term preservation of our ideals, our culture, our society – Our Nation.
If our mission is to be the greatest society on earth and the New Party’s political principles are the foundational thinking that guide governance, then the tactics are building blocks for policy, program and law.
As freedom is the essential principal and the key elixir for greatness, the job of governing must assure that laws, rules, regulation do not create heavy chains on our freedoms nor our ability to produce new ideas that improve our lives individually, corporately and nationally. This is extraordinarily tough work. How a legislator, executive, judge or bureaucrat approaches their responsibilities is crucial to producing outcomes that invigorate us, the creative citizens to greatness.
Four leadership tools that the CIVIL knows are baseline tactics for Great Governance:
- Excellence – Aim High and Measure
- Innovation Cubed (this tactic is so very important)
The reader might look at the list and wonder ‘isn’t this what a typical legislator does routinely?’ One would hope, but these tactics are routinely ignored in favor of politics as usual – rent-seeking and power consumption.
The first question that a legislator much ask of any pending legislation is ‘is this law really needed? Is it better to have no law instead?’
In today’s Congress, the question seems to be rephrased as ‘will this legislation get me reelected, or get me money to get reelected?’ Money is the great instigator of political action and in a money-driven Washington, restraint is seldom practiced. There ‘Oughta be a law’ is the beck and cry not only of our leaders but from, we, the voter as well. This is a tough 21st century challenge, because though law is crucial to protect our freedom, not all law is needed. Tolerance and restraint are needed. Wisdom is hard to come by but it is crucial for any organization to optimize a simpler, more efficient government.
Special interests drive legislation that adds complexity to government and often drives solving problems that either do not exist or do not need the intervention of government.
The first response to a special interest pandering for should be ‘do we really need this?’ And for that matter, do we really need the special interest group. Does the law improve the average American’s life? Does the law reduce the burden of regulatory compliance? Does it make life simpler and freer for all Americans? Does the law empower the individual? If for any of these the answer is no, then move on. If there truly is widespread benefit from a new law, then the next three items are of even greater importance.
2. Measure Success: Define Great Outcomes Up Front
When creating law or policy, leaders must measure its success or failure. Our last eight decades of social policy has been based on a fuzzy notion that government providing education or retirement of healthcare is important and that success is measured in the dollars spent, not in human success. This approach to government, hopefully a twentieth century causality, will fall away in the 21st century under the weight of our social monopolies’ financial dysfunction. Regardless, government by objective might be a good prelude to better governance.
Failure is a crucial variable of good governance. Admitting failure, or at least, admitting that the policy did not meet objectives is essential for great leadership. Washingtonians have little humility. Admitting failure seldom occurs. Spin is the rule of communications, not accuracy. To create great Americans, a great American, success must be measured, reasonably. If the government wishes to try something to improve our lives, that is fine. State the objectives, and those objectives should align with what is considered GREAT.
So if Great is what America is about, if politicians are going to do something, anything then politicians and political parties should tell us what great means. Economic growth? Is today’s 2% great? Obama seems to think so though few of us do. Is 3.5% great, or is it just good. How about the marriage rate? As 40% of women choose not to get married but have children in 2015. Thirty percent would be an important goal to reach but is nowhere close to the optimal 95% of the 1950s. Should we have a retirement system that has $44 trillion in unfunded mandates? Is being this much in debt great? Hardly. Should government own our nest eggs or should we? Corporate America has quickly retreated from company owned pensions systems, understanding that portable 401Ks provided flexibility freedom workers preferred. Sadly, our government is run with marketing slogans and political pandering (marketing so good Madison Avenue should blush,) not by objectives to achieve greatness. The list of government interventions into our lives that was supposed to improve us as individuals and as a nation, is a long list of failures. If government, if our political parties are going to execute policies then part of the plan needs to state clearly what g r e a t objectives government should meet, and if the goals are not met its time to innovate, or get rid of the politicians, or both.
If there were only one tactic that a new style of governance invoked, and that tactic were simplicity, then America would be a vastly better place. Our federal government is complex beyond our ability to understand. Simplicity should be our 21st century objective.
Simple is sublime. It is executable. It is easy to understand, to consume. Our government is quite the opposite. It is complex to the hilt. Simple is what makes science so wonderful, from a few rules, great ideas can be divined. Consider that the universe is built with only four basic forces. Or that our amazing bodies (all life) is built from four nucleotides – A, T, C, and G. Simple is great. Einstein said, and I paraphrase, if you can’t explain it to a six year old you probably don’t understand the problem.
Our tax code could be put on a single sheet of paper without affecting government revenues and at the same times reducing the rates of taxation. Wouldn’t that be nice? Could I explain this to a 6th grader? Sure, here you go. Joey, imagine that for every dollar you earned, the government is going to tax you at 20 cents, or 20 percent. Now Joey, you can get some of that 20 cents back if you read through 80,000 pages of rules that allow you to get some money back. And then, after filling out some forms, you discover you get 8 cents back, so you pay 12 cents in taxes. The final rate, 12%, is called the effective tax rate.
‘So Joey, which way would you like to pay taxes, the first way where you pay 20 cents, then fill out lots of forms where the government gives you back 8 cents, or would you rather just pay 8 cents and not worry about the forms or the rules or much of anything?’
Tax Rates using the 80 pages of tax code: 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, (33%, 35%, 39.6%)
Effective Tax Rates without the 80 pages: 1.9%, 7.0%, 11.2%, 15.2%, 23.4% (one rate condensed from the three in parentheses.)
Joey, like Joe America, enjoys the freedom of simple.
Not everything we do in government can be simplified, but much can and huge chunks can simply excised from existence. Sarbanes-Oxley provides little or benefit for catching bad guys. Get rid of it. Dodd-Frank and Obamacare: lots of complexity for no benefit or negative benefit. Expunge them. Net-neutrality…gone. EPA’s regulation of CO2, end it. Programs that are duplicates – combine them, or if their value cannot be shown, remove them. For the rest of our expensive (nearly $2 trillion in compliance costs) let’s do something different. Having the administrative state write its own rules has not gone well. Nor has engagement with the lobbying industry. Our established approaches are failing and innovation is required.
Perhaps the easiest way to simplify is to create an X-Prize for each program that needs a retreading of ideas. An X-prize for the Volcker Rule. An X-Prize for streamlining the mortgage industry and mortgage backed derivatives. Heck, an X-prize for transparency in the derivatives market. Instead of lobbyists (i.e. the agents of complexity – lawyers) writing policy, how about unleashing millions of creative minds stashed away in the some dark, or patio or park bench on the outskirts of the establishment; or a think tank in Palo Alto, garage or a set of new budding politicos’ and let these great people compete for the best idea to simplify solutions for government policy. God knows the folks we have working in the Complexity Machine in Washington are not helping put America on the road to success.
4. Innovation and Entrepreneuralism
Putting both Innovation and Government in the same thought in 20th Century was a bit of an oxymoron. Washington’s propensity for creating lumbering, monolithic, one-size-fits-all solutions was anything but innovative. Government social monopolies, Medicaid, Food Stamps, utility subsidies etc., aren’t innovations. Government has been attempting to help the less fortunate for hundreds of years. With government social monopolies. There is nothing innovative here. This aging process is what we call the establishment today. Peter Schumpeter called market giants the establishment, not unlike what we heard in the news about Trump and Sanders during the 2016 election. Schumpeter also noted that the establishment didn’t like newcomers, entrepreneurs and innovators because they changed the status quo. They changed the power structure.
Without innovation, things die, everything dies or ossifies. Without innovation, the economy doesn’t have a supply of new companies that increase both productivity and employment. Without innovation our society, even our culture, hardens, becomes too rigid to be appealing. Without innovation creates political parties focused on re-election and power, not problem-solving.
The government, though, must foster innovation in two ways. 1) in the general economy, and 2) as a tool for producing for great governance.
First, invigorating an innovation directed economy. The winners in the 21st century will be those countries that best foster innovation, ideas, invention and the investment that sponsor the first three I’s. Our competition to be number one, especially over a hegemonic China, will determined on our ability to out-innovate China. New ideas are the pipeline for future economic growth and productivity. When ideas or investment or both wane, as has happened in the US and Europe over the last decade, economic growth is reduced and future growth is dramatically attenuated. When using the restraint (do we need this law or agency or whatever) and simplicity (can we understand the regulation and easily abide it), combined with policy that empowers individuals to create. Economic freedom fosters innovation and investment. The ‘ingenious commoner,’ all of the power of the ingenious commoners are unleashed to accelerate our knowledge, our ideas, our innovation, and with investment, our wealth.
The government needs to be a protector of our freedom to innovate as well as the innovator. The Founding Fathers, who were the greatest political entrepreneurs in history, created the perfect incubator to test new ideas: Federalism. Fifty states, fifty incubators provide an amazing landscape for experimentation. Instead of the federal government creating a one size fits all social program, states could produce a variety of ideas to test and tweak and perfect. Of course, with much testing, as with quality improvement processes, some solutions will fail to produce good results and competitive solutions with great outcomes can be adopted. A bit a competition with improve government solutions.
Let’s get the government and its lawyers out of the business of protecting the status quo and let the states experiment so we can rid ourselves of poorly performing social monopolies. Let’s toss the one-size fits all strategy. We could have a multistate bakeoff between a market-based K-12 solution and the current single choice, public school solution. Let’s have a market-based health care solution for low-income families where a menu of financing and insurance options are available versus the current very expensive, (one-size fits all) HMO/PPO solution commanded for private and public insurance. Let’s test a personalized, dual track retirement system versus our currently underfunded intergenerational tax solution.
There so very many options that we could test instead of barking back and forth across the political aisles about the meanness of stupidity of the other party’s ideas. Let’s innovate instead of argue and giving both sides of the argument a place to test their ideas.
Are there more tactics one could employ to help our government run sensibly? Probably. These are the bare minimum required for change in Washington. Without these, America retraces it steps back to the Leftist regimen of confusion and complexity.