AN IMMODEST PROPOSAL
William Clinton was elected president by people who believed he would focus
on and provide solutions for deep-seated problems the Republicans had
ignored for more than a decade. The most important of these were chronic
and growing budget deficits of over 200 billion dollars, the 4 trillion
dollar national debt, our lagging economy and long-term unemployment, and
the lack of health care for 34 million Americans. As if these weren't
enough, Mr. Clinton promised to throw in a tax cut for the middle class.
One term is over, and people angrily debate the progress he has made toward
these goals. In his favor, annual budget deficits have gotten smaller, the
economy is flourishing, and our 5.4% unemployment rate sits near a ten year
low. Clinton's detractors, however, point out that after four years,
America's budget deficits remain in excess of 100 billion dollars, there is
no national health care, our national debt exceeds 5 trillion dollars, the
majority of jobs that have been created pay very modestly, and taxes were
raised on the middle class. Clearly, there is a long way to go.
Let me, then, with the same incisive logic made famous several hundred years
ago by Jonathan Swift in his article, A Modest Proposal, list some measures
that would remedy our present political and economic dilemma.
First, I want to explain the realities of America's federal expenses. Half
the United States' annual tax revenue is spent on entitlement programs that
include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran's Benefits, and a
number of other social programs designed to assist large blocs of citizens.
These programs are considered sacred and untouchable. When the defense
budget, which is in the neighborhood of $260B, is added to the entitlement
budget, less than a third of our tax revenues remain in the category of
discretionary spending. From this third, we must pay for building and
repairing our infrastructure, education, environmental protection,
elimination of drugs, immigration control, national parks, and myriad other
programs clamoring for money. There simply isn't enough to go around.
Congress' unwillingness to stop spending the money it takes to get reelected
each term, and the successful politicians' prudent and sensible views on
never raising taxes further complicate the already desperate situation. The
anticipated $130B deficit this fiscal year amounts to $500 for each person
living in America. We are not talking penny ante sums.
The preponderance of all entitlement benefits goes to the old. According to
a recent survey, less than 10% go to the young, which have the greatest
percentage in poverty of any age group. Consequently, nearly a quarter of
America's children are growing up in homes with incomes below the poverty
level. They are the products of broken homes and a single income parent,
usually a low-salaried mother. Many of these mothers receive little or no
child support. It is a sad circumstance, and one guaranteed in a single
generation to both lower our standard of living and our position among the
My solutions to correct these obvious inequities are basic, practical, and
few in number.
1) Lower the voting age to 3 1/2. It is true most of the youngest children
will not understand what they are voting for, but the same argument can be
made for millions of totally uninformed adults. Understanding has nothing
to do with voting in this country. If they can pull the lever, they are
capable of voting.
2) Disenfranchise everyone at his or her 65th birthday. That is, take away
their right to vote.
3) Implement a policy of mandatory euthanasia for everyone reaching the age
of 70, which is the biblical allotted span. The so-called Dr. Death of
Michigan has pioneered a method said to be painless. As a grandfather
clause, anyone now living beyond 70 will be allowed one year's grace from
the date this law is enacted.
These three simple steps will quickly resolve the worst of the problems
facing our country today. Large sums of money will be freed within two
years, because social security payments and medical expenses for older
citizens will diminish greatly. The young, now that they have the vote,
will be treated with renewed consideration by respectful politicians.
Educational facilities, teachers' salaries, and infant health care will
As a bonus, the burden of generational care will largely be lifted from the
shoulders of working adults. Funds now slated for building nursing homes
can be shifted into adding correctional facilities to our federal and state
Congressional trial balloons of this proposal have received unconditional
approval from the newer members of Congress. Additionally, as a means of
enlisting widespread support among the elderly, a great American and former
president has volunteered to be among the first to enter the program.
George Bush, pragmatic patriot that he is, felt many loyal Americans would
follow his example. With tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice, he
declared the faithful had unquestioningly accepted his judgment during four
years in office, and would unhesitatingly do so again.
Mr. Bush, now a private citizen, has finally stumbled upon a program that
will balance the budget.
Sam Orr firstname.lastname@example.org