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The BIGGEST difference that you will find between this Web site and others that offer downloads for the various flight simulations is that whenever possible I have attempted to create an "installation" program for the downloads...No more having to create folders, and then copying and/or moving files. The installation program does all of this for you...AUTOMATICALLY. So, where possible, all you have to do is to simply double-click on the installation program and enjoy! I strongly encourage you to visit the Installation Program page to see how this program works before downloading any of the wonderful add-ons from this site. To start your experience, simply click on one of the links to the left...

Michael Priester

AB_Lt_Cmd_Riker

Commanding Officer

ABSquad

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DEFUSING THE DEBT BOMB: IN PLAIN SIGHT

by: Michael Priester

It seems recently that all we hear about in the media – newspapers, magazine articles, talk shows and various online sources – is the decline of America. Even academic seminars can be found on America’s decline.

 So what would it take to “fix” the United States? There is one problem that overshadows all others: the national debt. Washington continues to take on debt burdens that are HUGE and, as the baby boomer generation begins to retire, scare the begeebees out of everybody. As an example as to how the baby boomers retirement future looks: the Peterson Institute estimates that Social Security and health care programs are already $43 TRILLION in the hole. To help cover this cost, the government would have to eliminate virtually all other spending and/or jack up tax rates for all U.S. citizens into the 70 percent range. Foreign governments would almost certainly then demand higher interest rates if they lent money to the United States. And if we raise interest rates to help offset this, the economy would almost certainly stagnate – making the debt burden even more dangerous for us all. The economic breakdown that happened to the banking industry back in 2008-2009 would look like a picnic – and that incident nearly brought down the entire U.S. economy.

 So…the problem looks unavoidable, but not unsolvable. America has a $14 trillion economy that was, until recently, growing at a steady rate. So there are solutions to this problem, some of which are not well liked by the Republicans, and others not liked by Democrats. But here are four proposals that would defuse the debt bomb, and leave the U.S. with money to spare:

 First, adopt a value-added tax. There are currently more than 100 countries worldwide that have some kind of “national sales tax”. If the United states were to enact one tomorrow, at something like the average for industrial countries, which is currently 18 percent, and at the same time drop income tax rates to compensate somewhat, it could bring in hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Let’s take a look at this revenue potential: imagine that the United States adopted a VAT at the high end range – 25 percent, which is similar to the rate of many Scandinavian countries today whose economies have grown as fast as America’s over the last three decades. Such a tax, as calculated by Leonard Burman in the University of Virginia Tax Review, would bring in enough money to balance the federal budget, pay for health care expansion, eliminate the income tax for all Americans earning less than $100,000 (which is 90 percent of all U.S. households), and cut the top tax rate to 25 percent. The tax has the additional benefit of retraining Americans from over-consuming and reward them for saving, the single most important long-term shift we need to encourage in the U.S. economy.

 Second, end the massive subsidies for homeownership, health care, big oil and agriculture. These four subsidies alone cost the U.S. government a whopping $450 billion a year. And all four encourage behavior that is bad for the economy. The interest deductions on mortgages have encouraged massive accumulation of debt that is at the heart of the current crisis. And no, it does not encourage homeownership…Neither Britain or Canada has the subsidy, and both have rates of homeownership slightly higher than the United States.  Big oil companies have benefited from these subsidies, allowing them to make huge profits in the face of increasing oil prices. As recently as 2009, oil prices continued to increase, and the big oil companies continued to say that there were good reasons for it. Yet they all had profits in the BILLIONS. You don’t need an economic degree to tell you that if it’s so bad for the big oil companies as they say, how is it they continue to report RECORD PROFITS EVERY YEAR? Subsidies for employer-based health care plans encourage overconsumption of health services – a point which economists on both the left and right agree. Subsidies on agriculture, mostly handouts to large agribusinesses, are so bad and market-distorting; one doesn’t even really know where to begin.

 Third, make sensible adjustments to entitlements. The most important fix here is to tie benefits to rises in income, not wages, a seemingly technical matter, but one that could save the government an additional hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Then raise the retirement age by a couple of years and link it to life expectancy, which increases three months every year. This is not impossible: In fact, Germany just raised its retirement age to 67. In fact, many European countries have fixed pension systems so that they will be solvent for decades, even longer.

 Fourth, make a constitutional amendment limiting the terms of congressional members two six year terms. This will help end the influence of lobbyists that most would agree control legislation in both the House and the Senate. It just makes sense to limit the time that any one person can have in a powerful position in government - especially those that will dictate policy for years to come. Elect them to do a job, and then get them out when the job is finished - and for those that would argue the point: if they can’t fix it within the allotted twelve years, find somebody that can. This part isn’t as important as the other three ideas offered here, but it does have a tremendous impact on the nation’s economy when politicians stay in office for such long periods of time. Their influence then goes way beyond “civil service”, and the temptation, I feel, is simply too great for “lifetime” politicians.

 Each of these policies could be phased in so that the timing is right. They could be pared back, especially if other savings and reforms are enacted (Currently, tax breaks and deductions cost the government $1.1 TRILLION a year). Just these three fixes would put the United States on a firm fiscal footing, leaving it with ample resources to invest in research, education, infrastructure, alternative energy, and whatever else we want.

 And I know the argument: it’s the politics that makes this look hard. And that has been the argument against most any fix to the national debt from the beginning. And I understand that it’s impossible for Congress to impose what it perceives as a little pain, despite general agreement that we are in a severe crisis. And especially when it would mean ending their monopoly on what happens to the rest of us. But as the ship sinks, let’s not pretend that our problems are insurmountable. The solutions are there in plain sight.

 

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Date last modified: February 01, 2014