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Ten years ago, when Eastern Europe broke free from socialism, very
little thought had been given to the transition to liberty. The result
was a mishmash of halfway measures that freed part of the economy but
left the rest in chains.
Should the U.S. ever break free, we too will need a transition plan
to liberty, one that won’t repeat the errors of our friends overseas.
Sadly, none of the politicians aspiring to higher office is even
thinking along these lines.
The truth is that we could do it in 30 days:
Day 1: The federal income tax is abolished and April 15 is declared a
national holiday. The 40 percent reduction in federal revenues is
matched by a 40 percent cut in spending. The remaining budget of $1
trillion is still almost twice as big as the one Ronald Reagan promised
to cut in 1980.
Day 2: All other federal taxes are abolished, including the corporate
income tax, the capital gains tax, the inheritance tax, the gasoline
tax, “sin” taxes, excise taxes, etc. Businesses boom, and the few
remaining federal functions are funded with an inexpensive head tax.
People who choose not to vote need not pay it. (Note: this was a
mainstream view in the 19th century.)
Day 3: The federal government sells all its land, freeing up tens of
millions of acres for development, mining, farming, forestry, oil
drilling, private parks, etc. The government uses the revenue to pay off
the national debt and other liabilities.
Day 4: The minimum wage is reduced to zero, creating jobs for
ex-federal bureaucrats at their market worth. All pro-union laws and
regulations are scrapped. Unemployment disappears forever.
Day 5: The Bureau of Labor Statistics, like the rest of the Labor
Department, is sent to that big hiring hall in the sky. Without detailed
economic statistics, future economic planners will be blind and deaf.
Day 6: The Department of Commerce is abolished. Big business has to
make its own way in the world, without subsidies and privileges at the
expense of competitors and customers.
Day 7: The plug is pulled on the Department of Energy. Oil and gas
Day 8: All regulatory agencies, from the Interstate Commerce
Commission to the Federal Trade Commission are deep-sixed. Competition
Day 9: HUD is squashed like a bug. There’s a building boom in cheap,
Day 10: The interstate highways reopen as private businesses and road
entrepreneurs price travel according to consumer demand. Using modern
technology, drivers get bills once a month. Credit risks — and drunks
and dangerous drivers — aren’t allowed on the road. Non-drivers no
longer subsidize car owners.
Day 11: Forget reform; government welfare is wiped out. Bums work or
starve. The deserving poor find a cornucopia of private services
designed to make them independent. Private charity explodes, as the
American people, already the most generous in the world, find their
incomes almost doubled, thanks to the tax cuts.
Day 12: The Federal Reserve closes its open-market operations and
stops protecting the banking industry from competition. Banks can now
engage in all the non-bank financial activities previously forbidden to
them. The business cycle, which is caused by monetary expansion through
the credit markets, is liquidated.
Day 13: Federal deposit insurance is scrapped. All insured deposits
are redeemed from federal assets, which include the personal assets of
high-level government employees. The threat of bank runs makes banks
keep 100 percent reserves for their demand deposits, and prudent
reserves on all other accounts. There are no more inherently bankrupt
banks propped up by the government, at taxpayer expense, and no more
Day 14: The shaky fiat dollar is defined in terms of gold, with the
ratio determined by dividing the government’s gold stock by all existing
dollars on that day.
Day 15: The federal government sells National and Dulles airports to
the highest bidder, and stops all subsidies to other socialist airports
around the country. All constraints on airline prices and service cease.
It costs more to fly during peak hours than off-peak, but overall, air
travel drops in price.
Day 16: All government regulations that create and sustain real
monopolies and cartels are abolished, including those for the post
office, telephones, television, radio, and cable TV. Prices plummet, and
a host of new and unforeseen services become available.
Day 17: Centrally planned agriculture, as imposed by Hoover and
Roosevelt, is repealed: there are no more subsidies, payments-in-kind,
marketing orders, low-interest loans, etc. Farm prices drop.
Entrepreneurial farmers get rich. Welfare farmers go into another line
of work. The poor eat like kings.
Day 18: The Justice Department shutters its anti-trust division.
Companies, big and small, are free to merge — up, down, or sideways.
Stockholders can buy any other company, or sell their stock to anyone
else. Marginal producers can no longer battle their competitors with
bureaucratic weapons. The software industry is free at last.
Day 19: The Department of Education flunks the constitutionality
test, and is kicked out. Private charities set up remedial reading and
writing programs for the former bureaucrats. Federally subsidized sex
education and other anti-family programs go out of business. Local
school districts become responsive to parents or close, pressured by a
fast-growing private school sector (which many more parents can now
Day 20: All federal monuments are sold, in some cases to non-profit
groups based on the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, which owns and runs
George Washington’s home. The VFW buys the Vietnam memorial. There is
much bidding for the Jefferson and Washington monuments. Nobody wants
FDR’s, so it’s torn down and the land sold to a farmer. With the federal
government cut back to its constitutional size, much of Washington
reverts to productive uses like agriculture, as in the late 18th
Day 21: The computerized financial and political dossiers maintained
by the government on every American are erased. The public wanders
through the federal offices to make sure, in a reprise of the East
Berliners’ visits to Stasi headquarters.
Day 22: Equal rights are guaranteed to all, even members of
non-victim groups. There is no affirmative action, no quotas, no
set-asides, no public accommodations laws. Private property and freedom
of association are fully restored.
Day 23: The EPA is cleaned out, with all “clean air” and similar
big-government laws repealed. Ten thousand lawyers leap from their
balconies. Private property is established in air and water. Americans
harmed by pollution can now sue the polluters, who are no longer
protected by the federal government.
Day 24: Americans are given complete freedom of contract, restoring
rationality to malpractice and product liability law. No more wars on
tobacco, hamburgers, or gun makers.
Day 25: Government scrambles to sell more assets (i.e., the National
Zoo, also known as Washington, D.C.) to pay off the liabilities of the
really privatized Social Security system. Saving is now voluntary.
Day 26: Artists, good and bad, have to earn their own livings, as the
National Endowment for the Arts tries to raise its budget through
sidewalk painting sales.
Day 27: Foreign aid is outlawed as unconstitutional, unjust, and
uneconomic. Foreign politicians have to steal their own money. The World
Bank, IMF, and United Nations close their superluxurious doors.
Day 28: U.S. citizens are given the unrestricted right to keep and
bear any defensive arms they desire.
Day 29: The Defense Department stops bombing and terrorizing foreign
peoples. Troops come home from all around the world. We adopt a policy
of neutrality, remembering the Framers’ view that we cannot have an
empire abroad and a republic at home.
Day 30: All tariffs, quotas, and trade agreements are put through the
shredder. Americans can trade with anyone in the world, without barriers
or subsidies. Japanese car prices drop an immediate 25 percent.
In just 30 exhilarating days, we will have established the framework
of de-socialized society. Next: Month 2.