How many times will naive voters fall for the old “when elected I will shrink the federal government” lie? If our Solipsist-in-Chief can’t “drain the swamp,” you can bet your last VHS Jazzercise tape that myriad new laws, middle-class tax cuts, and feeble protests will never stem the federal Leviathan’s metastasis. With that reality in mind, let me propose a five-point plan designed to make political freeloaders live like the rest of America. I can only hope their newfound empathy will ignite a drive to limit the federal government’s inexorable growth.
Article One: Remove all air conditioners (and fans) within the geographic limits of Washington, D.C. The left wants a Green New Deal; what better way to kick it off than to eradicate unnecessary energy use? Humans need heat, or they will freeze. Humans don’t need 68-degree air gently blowing on them to counteract a sweltering day. At worst, their sweat stains will ruin a few shirts. Toward that end, let’s also require federal employees to wear blue shirts from April 1 until October 31 so they can nauseate each other by looking like they just got “milk-shaked” by Antifa. I can barely stand New York City’s 66-percent June average relative humidity when I must venture out of doors. Washington clocks in at an indistinguishable 65 percent. Granted, Houston at 75 percent and New Orleans at 76 percent would be preferable. But you’ve got to “go with the city you’ve got,” to twist the chicken hawks’ chirps when they volunteer our military for their revolutionary crusades.
Imagine the subsequent interviews with politicians on CNN. “I’m sorry, Anderson, I don’t think I caught your question. Did you just ask me when I plan to present my bill for the federal funding of abortions for trans women? My earpiece keeps slipping out because I’m drenched. And to be honest, I’m so miserable right now I just want to go back to Las Vegas where it’s 120 degrees but at least has air conditioning. Can we also table your demand for starting a war with Iran until I come back in December, when I can think straight? I hope you and your Green friends are happy about all the energy we’re saving down here because we’re getting nothing done legislatively. Hold on, I need some water.” Let our eco-warrior politicians lead from the front by launching a pogrom against air conditioners and fans this summer.
Article Two: All congressmen, senators, and federal employees must prepare their own taxes with no help from anyone, neither their accountants nor their spouses. The IRS reports that the “average” American taxpayer spends 16 hours preparing his Form 1040—eight hours of record keeping, two hours of tax planning, and six hours of form completion and submission. The cliché “Averages can be deceiving” has now become a scientific axiom. I consider myself average. But I earned a CPA and an MBA, so the left would consider me “privileged” in the financial realm. Yet despite my “privilege,” my tax preparation time is an order of magnitude more than the 16 hours the IRS claims the average American needs. It takes me months to compile my documents. I call my accountant numerous times to follow up on his requests. Then after all that, I can’t complete the forms because I have a job that doesn’t allow me to spend 55 hours per week for three months straight struggling to determine whether some asset I sold should be treated under Section 1231 or Section 1245 of the Federal Tax Code. So I pay a king’s ransom for an accountant to do it for me.
Many Americans make the same economically rational choice. They value their time more than they value the money they throw away on tax preparation. According to the Tax Foundation, Americans spend 1.35 billion hours and over $20 billion on compliance costs every year. That expense is a pure economic loss to society. Imagine if Americans could spend those hours doing something productive, like mentoring children consigned to the foster care system, or visiting elderly shut-ins. Here’s how we get there: Not only will all federal employees and politicians be required to do their own taxes. But any difference they calculate from the exact amount due will result in a penalty of 100 times the error. Failure to pay within 30 days will result in one day of jail time for each $100 owed. Let’s watch our tax code shrink overnight from its current 70,000 pages of instructions to a two-sided leaflet.
Article Three: Congressional representatives and senators will serve as Casualty Notification Officers (CNOs) for the deaths of all military personnel in their districts. The job of notifying family members of their loved one’s death in our undeclared wars currently falls on other soldiers. Several of these former CNOs have shared their experiences with me. Before they speak—always reluctantly—they avert their eyes and take deep breaths. There are lots of brutal jobs in our economy. This one is arguably the worst.
Why should those who bear absolutely no responsibility for putting American soldiers in harm’s way have to bear this burden? I would prefer to see my congressional representative, Carolyn Maloney, flanked by my senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, informing a woman with an infant in her arms and a toddler wrapped around her leg that she’s now a widow. Let them stand at her front door and explain that yesterday her husband was killed in Afghanistan for no good reason whatsoever.
CNOs now require police escorts to do their job, as family members sometimes physically attack the unlucky messengers out of a combination of confusion, anger, and despair. Who would you rather see punched in the mouth: Chuck Schumer, or some 25-year-old patriotic Marine who had no idea when he enlisted that he would be telling newlywed women they just became widows, and children that they just lost a parent? And if Schumer had the gall to press charges—he certainly does, but I’m setting up a hypothetical here—against the deplorable surviving military spouse, is there any chance a jury would convict her?
I would have to be removed from the jury box for laughing too hard, if I didn’t first run over and clock the smarmy, duplicitous Brooklynite in the mouth myself. If Congress and the Senate want American lives to be wasted in foreign wars, then let them personally witness the effects of shattering the deceased’s family.
Article Four: All congressmen, senators, and federal employees will be paid the lesser of their current salary or the median national income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for 2017 was $61,372. Half of Americans earn more than that amount and half earn less. Why should our elected officials earn any more than the median American? Instead of spouting platitudes about how they “feel our pain,” let them live it. How concerned should we be that a lower salary will attract less-qualified candidates? Let’s see: $22 trillion in national debt, an intractable crisis at our border, two undeclared, immoral wars now approaching their third decade with another one brewing on the horizon…need I go on? Look at the caliber of employee the current excessive government wages have attracted to mire us in those messes. Let’s elect the median American instead!
Article Five: All congressmen, senators, and federal employees must send their children to the Washington, D.C., public schools. Childless politicians, or those with grown children, must send all their nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Did something not smell right to you when the Obama filles enrolled at Sidwell Friends School instead of their local public D.C. high school? According to Sidwell’s website, parents of students in the middle and upper schools have to pony up “$42,372 (includes hot lunch)” per year.
Let’s see how many children of federal employees waltz their way into Harvard, like Malia Obama did, when they attend their local D.C. public high school, whose system-wide, four-year graduation rate came to a pitiful 68.5 percent for the 2017-2018 school year. If the government schools and their unionized workforce are good enough for residents of D.C. who can’t swing a Sidwell tuition, then they’re good enough for the offspring of their leaders.
In addition, since every right-thinking American knows that “Diversity is our strength,” nothing would improve D.C.’s public schools more than a smattering of white students. The D.C. schools are 60 percent black, 20 percent Hispanic, and 15 percent white—hardly a mirror reflection of our gorgeous national mosaic. Congress remains stubbornly around 10 percent black and 10 percent Hispanic. The remaining white majority of Congress will provide much-needed diversity to D.C.’s unrepresentative student body.
Let’s look at an example. D.C.’s stellar Anacostia High School suffers from broken toilets, a flooded cafeteria, and no breakfast service, despite a $63 million renovation in 2013. But I’m sure Anacostia’s college guidance office ranks right up there with Sidwell’s. So the pols can just remind their kids to go to the bathroom before leaving for school, to wear their galoshes in the cafeteria when it rains, and to eat a cinnamon Pop Tart for a nutritional morning start. After the school’s college guidance counselors work their magic on the students’ high-school dossiers, Yale will beg Anacostia’s students to enroll. I will personally provide a 100-percent, money-back guarantee just to prove it. Or at least, that will be my very first campaign promise when I run to unseat Carolyn Maloney. “Do it for the children,” as the pols like to remind us.
Why shouldn’t politicians and federal employees have to deal with the same headaches normal Americans live with every day? My five modest proposals would be a first step towards “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people”—and not one for the benefit of Sheldon Adelson, the sugar lobby, or Raytheon.