I know I’ve been hitting up Practical Politicking a lot lately, but if 2014 isn’t the year for doing just that, I don’t know what is. Anyway, I have a twofer from them — a little policy, a little politics.
Policy first, and it’s a smart one given the Democrats’ SQUIRREL! approach to the minimum wage. Jeremy Kolassa has a modern twist on an old Milton Friedman minimum wage alternative:
That alternative is the Negative Income Tax (NIT). First proposed by libertarian economist Milton Friedman in his 1962 book Capitalism & Freedom (aside: it’s only $10 on Kindle and well worth the money), the NIT is fairly simple: establish a threshold.
Anyone above the threshold pays taxes to the government. Anyone below the threshold instead receives money from the government. In it’s original form, it was a flat tax.
The NIT is attractive for many reasons. First, you do away with a great deal of money-wasting bureaucracy, both with the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services which administers most welfare programs. Second, instead of putting people through ridiculous degrees of paperwork to figure out if they can have money for X, Y, and/or Z, they just get a check every year and they can decide what to spend it on. Last, employers can now pay what they can afford and what employees are really worth vis-a-vis their skill set, with the difference being made up by the NIT.
The weakness — and please forgive my cynicism, well-founded though it might be — is the idea’s strengths are precisely why we’d get it passed in today’s Washington. Simply giving people money, without it first passing through the hands of many bureaucrats, makes for unhappy bureaucrats and frustrated busybodies.
However, the day is soon approaching when we will no longer be able to afford extravagances like bureaucrats and busybodies. So if Americans do want a safety net, we’d better get serious on how to provide a decent one, relatively cheaply.
Now on to the politics with Tom Dougherty and Montana’s recently-appointed Democratic Senator and his shady dealings back home:
While the aforementioned articles address Walsh’s abuse of position and power as the Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard, it has also been reported (initially in 2011 but, like much of Walsh’s past, kept quiet) that Walsh was at the center of fiscal malfeasance within the Montana Department of Military Affairs.
The Montana Department of Military Affairs does a poor job of managing the federal money it receives and couldn’t even accurately report the number of active contracts it had with vendors, according to a pair of new audits.
Montana National Guard Brig. Gen. John Walsh said he was disappointed in the results and is taking the issue seriously, promising changes to correct all of the problems. In all cases, the agency agreed with the auditors’ recommendations.
In November of last year, Harry Reid called Walsh’s newly announced challenger for the Democratic nomination, former Montana Lt. Governor John Bohlinger, and told him not to run.
What does it mean when your background is too shady for Harry Reid but perfectly OK with Montana Governor Steve Bullock? You have to assume some kind of one-hand-washing-the-other here between Bullock and Walsh — but what? And will the media bother to look into it, or just dismiss it as “business as usual” for the donkey crowd?
Excuse me while I wipe tears of pure grief from my eyes at that rhetorical question.
There’s a lot more dirt here, and Tom has conveniently gathered it into one post. Read the whole thing.