The list of what to discard is long indeed; this is not surprising in the face of the huge flood of debt at the federal level. We need to refrain from sending our young men and women to fight when we or our close allies are not directly threatened. We should leave behind the attitude that the purpose of our defense budget is to provide jobs; rather, we should spend only what we need to keep the country safe from attack. We should phase out programs like Social Security and Medicare which tax the young to subsidize the old; we should save for our own needs and use government money to assist only the truly needy. We should abandon our current tax code in favor of a negative/flat tax (described by Dr. Milton Friedman) and abandon tax policies which favor income from interest and capital gains over income from work. We should abandon the corporate income tax which reduces the flexibility of our corporations; rather we should tax the profits when people receive them (dividends or capital gains). Our federal government should leave behind subsidies for food, mortgage interest, health insurance, and education; subsidies tend to raise prices and the money which we send to the Department of Education in Washington is needed at the school down the street where we send our kids.
Our federal government should leave behind support for unions, public and private; unions institutionalize adversary relationships which weaken companies, cities, and states and contribute mightily to the flood. Our federal government should re-learn the lessons of the prohibition of alcohol (our 18th amendment to the constitution) and its repeal (our 21st amendment) and apply those lessons to repeal drug prohibition. We must leave behind anti-trust laws which kill innovation or prevent companies from gaining efficiencies; government regulators are never smarter than free markets. The government should leave behind tariffs which interfere with free trade and penalize consumers. We must leave behind the unregulated jungle of tort actions and class-action lawsuits that lead to company-killing penalties and outrageous medical malpractice awards (in the absence of criminal intent), and unaffordable malpractice insurance. Our government should repeal the law against work, the so-called "minimum wage;" we need all the willing, able-bodied workers we can find and now is not the time to prevent people from working just because they cannot command a wage set arbitrarily by people who know nothing about their situations or about the situations of their potential employers.
Good luck to us all in the rising flood of debt. As we seek higher ground, the better decisions we make, regarding what to take and what to leave behind, the better chance we will have to survive and to gain a higher quality of life. As I survey my own situation and the situation of the company where I work, I have a good idea of what to keep and what to abandon. When it comes to my local, state, and federal governments and the candidates for office in the coming elections, I intend to support those whose concept of what to save and what to leave behind comes closest to my lists above. If those candidates fail to win election, I fear that the flood will be wide, deep, and long.