By Thomas Sowell
From time to time some kind readers suggest I run for public office, even for president. No need for those on the left to panic. It is not going to happen.
Such suggestions, however, cause me to imagine what my platform would be if I were in politics.
Since politicians like to have campaign slogans, instead of “Bring it on!” my slogan might be “Get rid of it!” to describe all the laws, policies, and government agencies that I would abolish.
A more positive slogan would be “conservative radicalism.” That is, my policies would be based on traditional values but would make radical changes in order to restore or enhance those values.
Cabinet-level departments, for example, would be reduced to just two — the Defense Department and the State Department, with the latter purged of the weak-kneed internationalist crowd who have dominated it for so long. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, etc., would all be abolished as just money-wasting bureaucracies serving outside special interests.
Government subsidies would be drastically reduced, starting at the top. That is, there would be a prohibition against giving a dime of government money to anyone whose annual income or total assets exceed one billion dollars. Why should agricultural subsidies be going to Ted Turner and David Rockefeller?
Who could object to cutting off subsidies to billionaires? Once that was done, however, the next step would be to cut off millionaires. Then we could proceed on down the income scale until people making a hundred grand a year could no longer expect to be subsidized with taxpayer money.
The advantage of this way of proceeding is it would rob the media of opportunities to run sob stories about how some poor person was hurt by cutbacks in some government program — even when the vast majority of those who were hurt were the bureaucrats who run these programs and slick special interests who hide behind the poor.
By the time we got down to cutting off all government subsidies to people making $100,000 a year or more, the federal budget would probably not only be balanced but have a surplus.
With all the money saved by ending vast numbers of subsidies, the government could afford to pay the kinds of salaries that would attract highly qualified people from the private sector. For example, if every member of Congress were paid a million dollars a year, that would cost less than 1 percent of what it costs to run the Department of Agriculture.
As things stand today, a successful doctor, lawyer, executive, engineer or economist would lose money by becoming a member of Congress. This means Congress is largely filled with people who either already have great wealth or people who don’t have what it takes to earn a high income in the private sector — or people hungry for power, who are the worst of all.
These are not the kinds of people who should dominate the making of laws in Congress or enforcing them in the courts. Short-sighted critics might object that the kinds of people we have in politics and the courts don’t deserve to get a million dollars a year. But that is the very reason for trying to get better people.
If a million dollars a year won’t do it, you could raise the pay to 10 million and it would still be chump change compared to what is wasted by cheap politicians, who turn out to be very expensive politicians when wasting the taxpayers’ money.
These are just some of the things I would do in the name of “conservative radicalism.” But it may be enough to show why there is no clear and present danger of my being nominated, much less elected.
Thomas Sowell writes for Creators Syndicate. His Web site is: