Seven Common Sense Ways To Fix Our Economy.

1 – Re-institute the Glass-Steagall Act.

The Glass-Steagall Act was initially signed into law in 1933 to prevent a repeat of the conditions that led to the Great Depression. The law created a firewall between banks of deposit and investment banks, recognizing that a bank of deposit is entrusted with maintaining the financial security of its deposits while an investment bank, such as a stock brokerage, engages in inherently risky activities. When the same financial institution is allowed to participate in both acitivities, the deposits are placed at risk. And since the government insures deposits through the FDIC, it’s also at risk.

Unfortunately, the law was repealed in 1999 and the lax regulation of the Bush administration allowed banks to collapse as the result of the very conditions the law was designed to prevent.

2 – Return Capital Gains Taxes to Reagan-era levels.

During the Reagan administration, the maximum rate on capital gains (money derived from investments) was raised to 28 percent. But, to reward their wealthy masters, Teapublicans have cut the rate to just 15 percent and they want to eliminate capital gains taxes altogether.

Since the wealthiest 1 percent of our population makes most, if not all, its money from capital gains on investments, that means millionaires and billionaires pay an income tax rate of 15 percent or less. On the other hand, many of us who make money from salaries or as sole proprietors pay an income tax of up to 33 or 35 percent, not including payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. See the problem?

3 – Return Income Taxes to Clinton-era levels.

Under Reagan, the maximum federal income tax rate averaged 65.70 percent. Under Clinton, the maximum income tax rate was 39.60 percent. Under Bush, the maximum income tax rate dropped to 35 percent leading to massive federal deficits.

Obviously, our current maximum tax rate has weakened our economy.  And unless we find ways to generate more revenue, we will be unable to decrease our debt or repair our infrastructure.

4 – Eliminate the cap on Social Security Withholding.

For the past several years Social Security taxes are withheld on only the first $106,800 of taxable income. By eliminating the cap, we would generate a great deal more money for Social Security, and by paying benefits to only those who actually need them, the Social Security trust fund would be solvent well into the forseeable future, perhaps permanently.

5 – Cut unnecessary duplication of city, county, state and federal offices.

If you want to build a commercial operation today, you may have to trek to as many as four offices to obtain the necessary permits. That’s because each level of government has its own unique regulations. Since environmental issues are necessarily different between Los Angeles, CA and Siren, WI, the need for different regulations is understandable. But why not streamline processes by combining similar functions in a single office? This would not only cut red tape, it would increase efficiency and cut costs.

6 – Buy local.

For the past 40 years, US manufacturers have shipped raw materials to other nations.  Then shipped the finished products back to the US.  This is not only destroying our economy, it is destroying our environment.  In fact, a case can be made that an enormous Hummer SUV is more environmentally friendly than a Prius.  That’s because the Hummer is made primarily in the US.  Eschewing foreign-made products would do wonders for American workers and everyone who breathes.

7 – Buy small.

Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc. are killing local retail stores which has led to the hollowing out of our central cities and the loss of jobs.  Yes, “big box” stores hire many employees, but they often pay less, provide fewer benefits and contribute less to the local economies.  Moreover, by emphasizing cheaper foreign-made products they continue to depress US manufacturing. 

Everyone likes lower prices and greater selection.  But who wouldn’t be willing to pay a bit more if it means our family members, friends and neighbors can keep or get a decent job?