Edgelings

Turning Around America -- A Modest Proposal

The stock market and economy are in the dumps largely because of mistakes made by the boobs, scoundrels and narcissists who govern us. Let us list them:

1. Federal Reserve
2. Congressional overseers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
3. Federal Accounting Standards Board
4. Securities and Exchange Commission
5. Treasury Department
6. A standing U.S. president whose appointments have been the worst since Warren Harding’s
6. An incoming U.S. president who could easily announce (but won’t) that, in light of the financial and economic troubles, he has decided to delay his tax hikes until 2011.

To these boneheads we now add Rod Blagojevich and his bribe scandal, which lends weight to the idea that government has never been run by poseurs, windbags, sociopaths and self-dealers to the extent that it is today. Washington has become a sort of Hollywood for ugly people.

Call me a dreamer, but I propose a simple fix to this problem. Pay politicians more. Give these takers the chance to become rich legally.

Here is how. Let’s put every elected federal official and appointee and bureaucrat on a stock option plan. The value of these options would be tied to the health and wealth of America. Half the options would vest over two years so as to spur politicians to make immediate changes. The other half would vest over 20 years, so politicians could build a framework for enduring success and be rewarded for it.

The options would gain or lose value based on these criteria:

1.    Noninflationary GDP growth
2.    Job growth
3.    Vitality of the small-business sector
4.    Wealth growth of American households in all four socioeconomic quadrants
5.    Educational achievements of American K-12 kids versus the world
6.    Health and longevity of Americans
7.    Prevention of military or terrorist attack
8.    Reduction of the national debt

Your criteria might be different (or differently weighted) than mine. I don’t care, really. We can debate the fine points and priorities. What I want is to change the whole darn way we define political success in America and thereby draw a better class of person to politics. One way we can do that and preserve our democratic values is to reward politicians for the performance of their country.

Does the idea of paying politicians more money repel you? Look at it this way. The wealth of American households is down about $20 trillion from 18 months ago. Each percentage point of unemployment will create a million more sad stories this winter. Each percentage point will add incremental thousands of more divorces, child beatings, black dog depressions, plunges into drug addiction and alcoholism, and even suicides.

If the incoming Obama administration, Senate and Congress are able to return America to noninflationary, sustainable 3% growth and put $20 trillion back into our stock and real estate portfolios, would you then be so churlish as to deny each senator, congressman, Cabinet official, Fed chairman and Fed governor a $10 million bonus? Not me. Let us hand the chief executive, Obama, a $100 million bonus if he pulls it off.

America needs a turnaround and quick. Let’s give the politicians a personal stake in improving the conditions for America’s success.