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SURVEY ON THE FINANCING OF GOVERNMENT



One of the important objectives of The School of Cooperative Individualism is to identify the areas of concern in our society demanding our attention and resources. Considerable work lies ahead as we attempt to inform and educate ourselves on the issues, adopt positions and initiate an advocacy effort. Consistent with the principles of cooperative individualism, broad consensus must be obtained on the basis of fact-finding research and open discussion.

This Survey on The Financing of Government -- consisting of 40 statements -- is a first step toward making rational public policy choices.

The School also has an aggressive objective of adding additional surveys in the areas of: Government reform (ethics); Election reform and legislative procedures; Trade policy; Legal systems and crime; National defense; Social welfare policy (e.g., health care, education); and Environmental issues. Achieving this objective will depend on two things: rationing of time to create the surveys, and a level of participation in this first survey to gauge a strong interest by visitors.




In this survey on the financing of government, you are asked to respond to each statement according to you own position and sentiments. Indicate where you: [a] Strongly Agree; [b]Moderately Agree; [c] Moderately Disagree; [d] Stongly Disagree; and, [e] if you do not feel comforable about making a response at this time, indicate No Response.

SCI would like to thank you for taking the time to participate in this survey.


PART I: THE FEDERAL BUDGET PROCESS

1. The U.S. Federal government ought to be Constitutionally required to balance the budget, meaning that total expenditures in any given year must be offset by revenues received in that same year.

2. Expenditures for so-called "infrastructure" (e.g., new roadways, bridges, buildings, tunnels, etc.) ought to be provided for under a separate budget from operational type expenses.

3. The most appropriate means of financing infrastructure expenditures (which have a long life and serve the public over many years) is through the issuance of fully amortizing bonds, the annual principal and interest payments on which must be raised from revenue raised each year.

4. The President of the U.S., within six months after taking office, ought to be required to submit to the Congress a four year budget, effective January 1 of the following year and extending through December 31 of the year following the expiration of the Presidential term of office. This would require the Executive and the Congress to work more closely and in a bi-partisan fashion.

5. Total annual Federal expenditures ought to be capped as a maximum percentage of the dollar value of the total goods produced (a measurement more appropriate than using GNP) during the prior year.

6. Economists are divided over the seriousness of the national debt, which is now well over $5 trillion and growing. In addition to eliminating annual deficits, the national debt must be retired over as short a period of time as is practicable from revenue raised in a manner that does not take away the purchasing power of those with moderate or low household incomes.


PART II: MONEY, BANKING AND CREDIT

7. I believe the Federal Reserve System serves the best interests of the U.S. citizenry and ought to be preserved.

8. Commercial and Savings banks should be more strictly and effectively regulated to restrict the type of investments they make and protect depositors and shareholders.

9. The extent of taxpayer-guaranteed deposit insurance ought to be reduced from $100,000 (what each depositor is insured for in each institution in which he/she is a depositor) to something that equates to the median savings of a U.S. household.

10. My understanding of the U.S. Constitution is that the government is responsible for coining money from gold and/or silver, but there is nothing authorizing the issuance of U.S. government securities in exchange for "Federal Reserve Notes." The laws making Federal Reserve Notes "legal tender" are, therefore, unconstitutional.

11. Paper currency ought guarantee the holder the right to claim a specific "basket of goods" or commodities (e.g., a certain amount of gold or silver).

12. As oversight of the management of any financial institution, external bank auditors ought to be chosen by the Board of Directors and approved by a vote of shareholders rather than by the executive management.

13. The principle of a "gold standard" backing the circulation of paper notes is , in my view, nearly the same in its impact on commerce as the use of certificates of deposit as a replacement for central bank notes circulating as "legal tender."

14. Banks are required to hold in reserve only modest amounts of legal tender, enough so that in normal times demands by depositors and other business needs can be met without "calling in" loans or selling investments such as stocks or bonds. This practice seems reasonable because if banks must pay "interest" to depositors, then they need to use those deposits to earn income from other sources.

15. A major issue in banking has been the requirement to adjust the value of loans to their actual market value (i.e., "marking assets to market"). The pressue to do this is that bankers have proven to be extremely susceptible to losses on commercial and high rise real estate projects and other loans to businesses. One proposal would limit bank lending on real estate to an amount calculated based on conservative forecasts of actual cash flow (i.e., the loan payments could not exceed, say, 75% of actual monthly revenue received) rather than an appraised value of the project as planned. This restriction in lending would have a material and positive impact on the stability of the banking industry.


PART III:
OBLIGATIONS OF CITIZENS TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENT

16. One of the issues that has divided Americans over the last two centuries is whether the United States is a union of sovereign states, with certain powers extended to the national government, or a nation comprised of what amounts to admnistrative districts that retain certain legislative powers and jurisdictions. This is a serious disagreement that has the potential to create a Constitutional crisis.

17. The second view of the history of the United States of America is that the states created from the public domain have always been subsets of the national government. Only the thirteen original states -- a small minority of the fifty now in existence -- have any claim to sovereignty.

18. Each of us, as citizens and members of our society, has some obligation to contribute to the costs of government.

19. I believe that what I earn by my own effort -- my physical or mental labor -- is my private property. Taxing any of this away from me is really confiscation of my legitimately acquired wealth, a theft and an injustice.

20. There are some services provided by government, such as national defense and police protection, that benefit all of us; however, those with the largest estates and most personal wealth gain the most from these services. Thus, ability to pay is an appropriate basis for determining how much taxes a person ought to pay.

21. I should not have to pay the government for services I do not use. For example, if I have no children enrolled in a public school system, I should not be required to pay school taxes.

22. Collecting user fees is an efficient way for government to earn revenue from those who use highways, parks, schools, libraries and other public services.

23. If publicly-owned lands (e.g., mineral lands, forests, grazing areas, etc.) are to be made available for private exploitation and use, leases ought to be awarded to the highest bidders and not by lottery or political connection.

24. An appropriate area of government service is to inspect food, drugs and other products for basic health and safety standards.

25. Each citizen, regardless of what state or municipality he/she lives in, has a right to public services that meet certain minimum standards. This means, for example, that if a group of people choose to build a community in the desert, the rest of society is obligated to make sure they have adequate systems of water and sewer, fire protection, education, etc.


PART IV: TAXATION

26. Taxation is, by definition, the confiscation of the personal assets of the individual or entity; thus, although government requires revenue in order to provide necessary "public goods" taxation ought to be kept as low as possible.

27. From a moral perspective, government revenue ought to come primarily from values most directly created by the development of community infrastructure and not from what individuals produce privately.

28. Ability to pay is, all things considered, a reasonable basis for who pays how much in taxes.

29. Ability to pay ought to be considered; however, the most important basis for what people pay in taxes is whether income is earned or unearned.

30. A modified income tax, with no deductions but with incomes exempted below, say, the national median household income, would shift the burden of taxation to those who generally benefit most from the vast array of government subsidies and expenditures.

31. Collecting tariffs on imported goods is an appropriate source of government revenue.

32. Collecting tariffs on imported goods reduces the purchasing power of consumers but is a price that must be paid to keep the workersof any country working and able to pay taxes.

33. A national "value added tax," which is added at every stage of production of goods rather than at the time of sale to the ultimate consumer, is a way to create a more level playing field than locally-levied sales taxes, which are often at differing rates and covering different items.

34. Since no human effort was required to produce nature (i.e., locations for housing and buildings of all types and of natural resources), ownership of these assets is a more just base for taxation that what people do produce.

35. Taxes on goods and services make these things more expensive, so that fewer people can afford them. It makes sense, therefore, to lower the rate of taxation on things we produce and services we offer.

36. Lower rates paid by a larger number of taxpayers will still give government the same or more revenue without putting a drain on the economy.

37. Heavy taxation of my income, my home or my business would cause me to move out of the community, city, state or province in which I live, work or do business.

38. Licenses issued by government limit competition; therefore, any value that accrues to such licenses (e.g., to operate taxi cabs, to control broadcast frequencies for radio and television, or even for rights of way) belongs to the public and should be collected government.

39. Not-for-profit organizations that buy and sell stocks for speculative gain ought to be subjected to the same "capital gains" taxes as individuals or for-profit organizations.

40. Taxation of dividends or interest is, in effect, a second level of taxation on income that was already taxed. We must stop penalizing people who save and invest and minimize or eliminate this type of taxation.

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