Sunday, April 12, 2015

Can We Find Solutions in Partisanship?

I am extremely upset with modern politics. We have a stream of movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street which create a great deal of noise, but fail to produce solutions for the challenges of the day.

I believe that the participants in these movements are authentically seeking solutions. Unfortunately, the movements tend to be captured by partisan politicians who are driven by a desire to gain power. The partisan leadership at the head of such movements tend to undermine the authentic desires of the people in the movements.

I spent the last year researching the ugly history of partisan politics in the US and abroad. Partisan politics evolved to the desire of political leaders who sought to gain power by pitting people against each other. The end result of partisan politics (left, right and center) is that the politics tends to concentrate power in a ruling class of politicians while undermining the needs of the people.

I have to emphasize that the US Founders despised the factions they saw in Europe. It is likely that they were seeking a way out of the partisan mess.

NOTE: Conservatism is not the ideology of the US founders. Conservatism is a partisan ideology created in 1834 when the Tory Party, led by Sir Robert Peel, rebranded itself as "The Conservative Party." The Tories were the people who fought against the US Founders.

If we can't find solutions in partisanship, where can we find it?

In this blog, The Object Tax, I suggest that we can solve some problems by applying the some of the design techniques used in Silicon Valley to develop computer systems.

The United States has an inefficient income system. The government withholds money from our paychecks. We then must waste a weekend each year filing a tax return.

I suggest that the best path to tax reform is to approach this inefficient tax system as if it were a programming problem. The reform is named after Object Oriented Programming. The reform simply asks that Congress create an open source project to develop a new interface for the existing tax system.

This reform proposal itself is not seeking to replace the income tax. The reform simply seeks to use a proven design methodology to create a more efficient user interface so that taxes wouldn't take up so much time.

Fundamental to this proposal is that the new interface can exist alongside the existing system without disruption. The project would develop a new account based alternative to the withholding system. Taxpayers would choose the new system if they find it more convenient.

Personally, I do not think tax reform is a critical issue, but it is an issue that affects all Americans. If we used the constructive methodology from the computer industry to streamline tax collection, we could save Americans and American businesses the energy wasted on an inefficient system.

The reform also makes the important statement that the actual process of governance should be based on constructive designs rather than partisan bickering.

My previous post shows how partisanship makes tax collection worse. There is solid evidence to show that the IRS targeted conservative groups. The GOP responded to partisanship in the IRS by slashing the agency's budget. The IRS in turn has responded to the slashed budget by an extremely sharp decrease in customer service with a partisan finger pointed back at Congress.

We see that partisanship leads to actions followed by reactions that have the net effect of damaging the ability of the IRS to fairly collect taxes.

Both sides of the IRS squabble are behaving like children!

It seems to me that tax reform provides an ideal opportunity for the American people to step in and demand better behavior from Washington. The American people could do this by creating an open source project to create a streamlined alternative to the current tax system that requires payroll withholdings and an annual return.

Partisan bickering is destructive. It leads toward division and waste. I believe the open source community could shine if people were to stand up and demonstrate the power of constructive thinking; So, I will spend the next couple of months blogging about how an open source program could have positive effects on government.

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