IVN News

America Suffers from Downton Abbey Syndrome — And It Is Crippling The Nation

Paid Advertisement

On Sunday, Cheryl and I joined millions of Americans to watch the Season Premiere of Downton Abbey. As we are drawn to their lavish 1920s lifestyle, we also retain a degree of detachment, knowing that it soon will come to an end. Unfortunately, in too many ways the England of Downton Abbey is too similar to the America of today.

Downton Abbey is the tale of a family steeped in traditions, yet engaged in excessive spending and entitlements. They continue these practices despite repeated warnings that they are not sustainable.

The fact the patriarch, Robert Crawley, is only able to maintain the estate due to the dowry his American wife brought to the marriage is a perfect metaphor for the fact that England was only able to maintain its standard of living in the 1920s due to loans from American banks.

A Changing World

In the 1920s, Britannia no longer ruled the waves. Americans were leapfrogging ahead due to their commitment to leave a better world for their children, and their concomitant investments in education and transportation. Meanwhile, Germany and Japan were shedding centuries of tradition to become engines of economic growth.

As England lived as though Britannia still ruled the waves, America is living as though the 25-year golden age after World War II ... never ended.

How much is this discussed around the dinner table at the Crawleys or in the Halls of Westminster? Precious little.

How much is America’s current precarious situation discussed around our dinner tables or in the Halls of Congress? Precious little.

As England lived as though Britannia still ruled the waves, America is living as though the 25-year golden age after World War II, when we had no serious economic challengers, never ended. It was a period when the developed world was recovering from the ravages of total war and the deaths of eighty million people, and when billions more people were escaping the chains of communism and colonialism.

Today we have those competitors and we are burdened by a nearly twenty trillion-dollar debt, which rises every year. The problem has become so severe that our national deficit has become a national security threat.

Our Best Days Can be Ahead of Us

America’s best days can be ahead of us, and by a very large margin. However, to achieve our full potential, we first must address our national debt crisis.

The Deficit Triangle

Just as there is a right way and a wrong way to treat human cancers, there is a right way and a wrong way to treat a deficit. It starts by understanding there actually is a Deficit Triangle in America, just as there was in England a century ago; we have a budget deficit, an investment deficit, and a trade deficit.

Only treating the budget deficit by raising taxes and cutting spending — without addressing the investment and trade deficits — will make solving the budget deficit more difficult, if not impossible. This interconnection is clearly laid out in a report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and The Breakthrough Institute.

America effectively addressed the Deficit Triangle in the 20th century, not by raising taxes and indiscriminate spending cuts, but by focusing on innovation and productivity. That led to sustained productivity growth, investment and trade surpluses, smaller budget deficits, and most importantly of all, the creation of the American middle class.

The laws of economics haven’t changed: we need to again focus on productivity and innovation.

Get Washington Out of the Way

The good news is much of what needs to be done is simply getting Washington out of the way. Small business is a major engine of innovation, productivity, and job growth. It also is the seed of almost every big business. Yet we have systematically made it more difficult for small businesses to succeed.

Unreasonable lending standards make it difficult for small businesses to get the funds they need. The marginal tax rates need to be lowered, and deductions that disproportionately benefit big business need to be reduced. Similarly, much of the regulatory climate is so complex, only large businesses can steer their way through. The regulatory scheme must be dramatically simplified.

Infrastructure Reform

We also can and should significantly increase our public investment in infrastructure – and we can do so without raising taxes. For example, each year Californians pay more than $10 billion in road taxes. However, only a fraction of our road taxes are spent on roads.

Road taxes should be spent on, well, roads – not the countless other pet projects and special interests they get siphoned off toward. As big as this problem is at the state level, it is geometrically bigger at the federal level.

Similarly, we can significantly increase the quality of education without increasing spending. Harnessing the power of information technology, allowing hiring-and-firing decisions to be made based on teacher quality and performance, expanding school choice to disenfranchised communities, shifting funds from bureaucrats to our hard working teachers, and other common-sense reforms can lead to a new Golden Age in American education.

Is it Essential? Is It Productive?

In addition to reforming institutions, as taxpayers we need to get a much better return on our investment. As a U.S. senator, I will ask a simple question: will the use of these funds meet an essential need and/or be a productive investment?

Payments made in conjunction with essential components of our national security, essential government functions and essential elements of the social safety net should be maintained. All other government programs and personnel should be eliminated.

The problem has become so severe that our national deficit has become a national security threat.

Productive investments always were and always will be the key to America’s success. The Erie Canal, railroads, public education, the interstate transportation system, the computer, and the Internet all sprung from government investments.

Today, ARPA-E (the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) is an example of a current limited, focused productive investment worthy of government support. ARPA-E funds small groups of researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs focused on breakthroughs in clean energy technology. It is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has been responsible for many breakthrough innovations, including stealth-fighter technology and the Internet.

ARPA-E plays a critical role in clean energy innovation by improving our understanding of clean energy technologies and targeting and investing in high-risk, high-reward technologies that would create significant social and economic value. ARPA-E has the potential to help close the investment deficit by developing ideas that can turn into products to make the use of energy more efficient and decrease harmful emissions. It can help reduce the trade deficit by reducing our dependence on the importation of foreign oil.

Productive investments in programs like ARPA-E should be maintained. All other subsidies and tax breaks to oil, ethanol, and mature industries should be eliminated and the tax and regulatory environment should be dramatically streamlined.

A New Burst of Opportunity

As we continue to enjoy watching Downton Abbey, let us not forget the high cost England paid for not dealing with their Deficit Triangle and we are for failing to deal with ours. By limiting our expenditures to essential programs and productive investments, we can help enter in an age that will provide us with a new burst of economic opportunity and a sustainable planet.

 

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


Learn More About IVN

80 comments
Duf Sundheim
Duf Sundheim

Your statement "During primary season, voters are most interested in which Democrat or Republican will prevail.  Voters only look at minor party and independent candidates seriously after primary season."  Is true.  That is how they have historically looked at it, because there was no competition in those groups amongst third parties and independents had no reason to care.


The new system does require people to understand the system has changed.


My point is in the U.S., with all the elections that we have, thousands every year, you had to go back to examples that are almost two decades old to find situations where an independent actually won.


If you are looking for a system that enables third party/independents to prevail, based on 200 + years of results, I do not think the old system is the system you would want to support.

RichardWinger
RichardWinger

@Duf Sundheim There are plenty of more recent examples.  Vermont has an open primary.  The voter decides which party primary to use.  That primary is in September (or, starting in 2012, the very end of August).  Every year, including 2014, the Progressive Party has a primary with very few voters choosing the Progressive Party primary.  Typically the Progressive Party candidates for legislature get as few as 10 votes in the primary.  But every year, six, seven or eight Progressive Party nominees then get elected in November.

Duf Sundheim
Duf Sundheim

You clearly feel passionately about this issue.  A couple points:  Californians were the only voters in the U.S. in November 2014 who were forced to vote for a Republican or a Democratic for all statewide office, or we couldn't vote at all."


That was only the case because no other candidate could garner enough support to make it into the top two.  If they cannot even do that, what are the chances they are going to win?  Every person, irrespective of party or if they have no party, has the right to participate in the first round.  There is nothing that prevents them from being in the second round.  In fact, for example, if there were two Green candidates, they both could be in the second round.




RichardWinger
RichardWinger

@Duf Sundheim During primary season, voters are most interested in which Democrat or Republican will prevail.  Voters only look at minor party and independent candidates seriously after primary season.  In mid-September 1998, Jesse Ventura, running in the open Minnesota primary for Governor, only got 3% of the total vote cast for Governor.  Yet, he won less than 2 months later as the Reform Party nominee (in Minnesota, all voters get the same ballot, and it has all 3 parties' primary ballots on it, and in the secrecy of the voting booth the voter decides which party's primary to vote in).  In California in 1999, in a special election in Alameda County for Assembly, Green Party member Audie Bock only got 8.5% of the vote, finishing third.  But because it was a blanket primary she was in the run-off, and she won.

Duf Sundheim
Duf Sundheim

I assume you mean the 2010 version?  If so, I support it.  You?

RichardWinger
RichardWinger

@Duf Sundheim I am passionately against it.  Californians were the only voters in the U.S. in November 2014 who were forced to vote for a Republican or a Democratic for all statewide office, or we couldn't vote at all.  Voter turnout declined more in California between Nov. 2010 and Nov. 2014 than any other states, according to the turnout data collected by Dr. Michael McDonald, the nation's leading expert in turnout.  That is because in Nov. 2010 Californians had a choice of six parties for all the statewide offices, but in Nov. 2014 we only had two choices, and no write-in space.  In Nov. 2010 minor parties got between 550,000 votes and 1,150,000 votes for every single statewide office.  All those votes could not be cast in Nov. 2014.  Prop. 14 was opposed by the ACLU of both northern and southern California, because the ACLU knew how it would turn out.  The only two League of Women Voters who studied top-two, the Arizona and Washington leagues, came out against it because of the severe restriction on voter choice in November.

Thelma Perry
Thelma Perry

Oh what next is going to be torn down and trampled? Thelma Perry.

Ryan A Hall
Ryan A Hall

As a manager of a small business, I completely agree.

Robert Casey
Robert Casey

Plankton! Thank goodness I have grandkids!

Vallee Johnson
Vallee Johnson

Money out of politics back in the hands of majority of the people.

Jackie Lawson
Jackie Lawson

I agree, so I support small businesses as much as I can.

Gail Olin
Gail Olin

Run for president, Sir. We need you!

Matt Craig
Matt Craig

Agree. Corporations have bought the District of Criminals and are using them to crush and/or assimilate small competition into the borg, or T.I.C.K. - Transnational Interlocking Corporate Kingdom. If it wants you crushed, you're gone. If it wants your product, you WILL sell out to them. 'Merica!

Tom Biasella
Tom Biasella

yes, that's another side of the story as well. Lobbyists and Some big Business.

Jeff Marston
Jeff Marston

Well written.  I'd like to see a "Ben Franklin balance sheet" about these things to see what the other side of these positions might be.

Nancy Young
Nancy Young

Been there done that and totally agree. Small business has no voice in this government.

Jim Cobb
Jim Cobb

eliminate money...take their power...its the only way to save the planet and ourselves...its up to the people

James Francis
James Francis

Someone or group is pushing the president to do this.

Kermit Eskelsen
Kermit Eskelsen

Agree. High dollar earners making tax laws that put the small business man out of business. Stupid laws that make no sence. Like shutting down the grazing to create another reserve.

Dennis Thomas
Dennis Thomas

William, No! The GOP is the only problem!!! They have successfully stopped good government by vowing to block every our President wants to do! It's Treason!

Dennis Thomas
Dennis Thomas

Size government to our needs. That is, make it effective! Not too small, not too big!

Dennis Thomas
Dennis Thomas

It's big business that buy government to write laws that impede small businesses. It's not government! It's bought politicians!

Dennis Thomas
Dennis Thomas

Disagree!!! Our rich individuals and corporations have bought Republicans who have written endless law that makes it impossible for small business to get a decent size piece of our economic pie!!! Keep Republicans out of the White House and out of congress if you want a fair playing field for small businesses! Stop mergers of giant corporations if you want small businesses to thrive! Bench politicians owned by big business!!!

Aaron Vansell
Aaron Vansell

I agree up to the point of letting them further destroy our environment!!!!

Becky Fly
Becky Fly

Steven Andersen Maybe trying to discourage competition for some special interest they are protecting?

Lawrence Armstrong
Lawrence Armstrong

Register Republican and vote for Donald Trump 2016. He is hated by the Repub and Democrat elite that has raped our country.

Becky Fly
Becky Fly

Michael Acree I wouldn't be surprised if they do! LOL

Becky Fly
Becky Fly

Mark Sleep My guess is that they want no government regulation. Some regulation is unfair meant to give advantages to the special interests that lobby Congress. That needs to be struck down, but government's job is to keep things fair to customers, employees, the environment. That's the kind of thing they should be doing not catering to some big business that will give them a cushy lobbyist job for mega bucks when they retire.

Becky Fly
Becky Fly

Michael Acree Very true. It will be an uphill process though because the parties have the process almost completely locked up and only promote their own agendas. We need to get rid of the money corrupting congress, and we need campaign reform so we can get some new voices and new ideas in Congress.

Becky Fly
Becky Fly

Some people are saying strike down regulations and all government interference. I'm sure some of it has been put in place that is unfair to small businesses because it was designed to protect big business or some special interest group. That kind of legislation should be looked at and struck down. However, some regulation is in place to protect fair business practices, fair treatment of employees, the environment and the consumer. That's what government is supposed to do. It's like when the Titanic went down losing almost all lives on board. Congress called hearings and investigated. Out of that came regulation that all boats had to have the new wireless telegraph so they could hear if someone was sending a distress signal. Every boat now had to have enough life boats for every person on board. Left to themselves companies don't pay to man life saving communications 24/7 or even do the extremely obvious such as having enough life boats.

PaulLillebo
PaulLillebo

It's not easy to agree on what budgetary spending is essential. In a modern society, a number of social safety nets are considered essential. Protection of the Earth for our descendants is clearly essential. This means maintaining sufficient natural environmental habitat for the survival of sustainable numbers of wildlife and natural plants. Assuring a near-equal opportunity for all children to fulfill their potential seems to me so desirable that it borders on essential. This requires government involvement, otherwise it doesn't happen. On the other hand - although I'm highly interested in science - voyages to distant planets that cost hundreds of billions are not essential in any sense, and spending nearly 40 percent of the world's defense budget is quite certainly not essential. There are a lot of savings available if we insist on single-issue bills without earmarks. Etc.

At the same time, the U.S. is still the most innovative nation on Earth. The whole world uses American products, though most are not actually manufactured in the U.S.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

It's the same thing we've been hearing from the GOP for 40 years. Move along, nothing new to see here.

Steven Andersen
Steven Andersen

Perverse tax incentives that encourage commercial property owners to let retail space remain vacant, rather than adjusting (I.e., lowering) rents to real market values...

Bill Hall
Bill Hall

I agree that NOBODY really cares about small business. It has gotten the point that if you are in business for yourself unless you have at least national if not global ambitions you are nothing and will be ignored. It would be long before we see people going outside he Milky Way Galaxie for business opportunities? XOG and his friends are just waiting.

Sherri Law-Riddle
Sherri Law-Riddle

We need the government! Stop blaming the government, get out and vote to get money and big businesses greedy hands out. It's all about MONEY! Wake up!

Steve Hough
Steve Hough

America’s “Golden Age” is not ending because of foreign competition, government debt, or overregulation of small businesses. As if the number of workers displaced by technology was not damaging enough, large American and European companies outsourced manufacturing and tech services jobs when they could not legally import sufficient numbers of low wage workers, or found it undesirable to do so. Real full employment among the domestic labor force results in upward pressure on wages. The tactics employed by business owners reverse the direction. Max out H-1B visas, hire as many illegal immigrants as possible, and ship as many jobs overseas as possible. These tactics not only increase the bottom line in the short-term, but they set the stage for increased future profitability when new job creation cannot keep pace. Although small businesses make up the vast majority of American firms, they employ far fewer individual employees, and they are dependent upon communities with people making enough money to buy their goods and services. Manufacturing once supported a wide web of small businesses. When those jobs disappeared, so did small businesses. When wages are stagnant, or in some cases decrease or disappear entirely, small businesses struggle to survive. The degree of regulation varies from one industry to another and cannot be blamed for the demise of small businesses. Of course a small start-up will have many challenges, especially if in a field dominated by mature corporate behemoths. It is a cop out and manipulative to lay the blame on government regulations. It is also naïve to simply say that Washington needs to get out of the way. Washington needs to stop being bought and paid for by the owners of capital.

Wyn Nichols
Wyn Nichols

Yes, especially in California where things are owned by the wealthy and the serfs get poorer every year

Robert Weber
Robert Weber

Having a small business for 43 years and dealing with government CRAP ... THE ANSWER IS .... HELL YES AGREE....

Mark Sleep
Mark Sleep

What exactly does it mean when people say Government needs to get out of the way?

Duf Sundheim
Duf Sundheim

I have a friend who has been trying to start a small facility for 4 years.  His other businesses are EXTREMELY successful.  He does what government tells him to do, the he sits and waits for an answer for months.  Meanwhile, no services are provided, no people are employed.  If government is interfering with a business it needs to be clear what it wants to be done, why it needs to be done and approve or reject in a timely manner.

William Schuster
William Schuster

I notice the atmosphere has not been drastically different for small businesses over the last 7 years. The GOP is only half the problem in Washington.

Jerry Allbright
Jerry Allbright

The problem is that big business has made it next to impossible for small businesses to be successful. Being able to sell at a loss in order to eliminate competition is a huge tactic. Also. With wages so low most Americans can only afford to buy the bery cheapest of products supplied mostly by. You guessed it, big business.

Michael Acree
Michael Acree

you know they call a McDonalds franchise a small business

Michael Acree
Michael Acree

You forget that "we the people" ARE the governmnt.. Just because it has been hijacked by bigmoney and nobody participates, dont dicourage the tru believers for trying to build a strong government once again

Duf Sundheim
Duf Sundheim

That is why I am running.  To take our government back.