Saturday, November 24, 2007
The American army is bringing a semblance of peace to the Iraqi people by eliminating Al Qaeda and the insurgents and marginalizing the militias. They have also won the confidence of the local tribal leaders who are using their militias to prevent the return of Al Qaeda and the insurgents. As good as this military progress is it can be totally undone by the totally incompetent Iraqi government. The governmental system in Iraq is totally broke and cannot be fixed by Band-Aids but requires open-heart surgery.
The problem began when Bush forced democracy on a culture that will not support a central government elected by a plurality of the people. Bush failed to consider the culture of the Iraqi people when forming the government. An American-style or British style government is not for everyone, especially the Middle East. The cultures are radically different. First Iraqi has three distinct and independent cultures, Sunni, Shia and Kurds. Although all are Arab they could not be more different. A government elected based on population works in the United States because we share a common culture. In Iraq a population-based government where one culture will always be dominant will not work.
The Iraqi people are first and foremost tribal. The nation is divided into provinces that provide no value and finally a new central government. Currently the tribes are the backbone of the governance of the Iraqi people. The central government is Shia dominated and utterly corrupt. This will always be true. Additionally there's a problem of the distribution of oil among the cultures. So what is to be done?
Current governmental problems that cannot be fixed with time or by our military
The local police forces do not reflect the tribal system. The national police force is a bunch of thugs that need to be marginalized or disbanded and start all over. Distribution of resources by the central government is both erratic and corrupt. The Shia dominated parliament provides too much power to the President/Prime Minister.
How to build a government that supports the culture of Iraq
The central government needs to be abolished and a new form of government established that reflects the culture of Iraq and equality of the cultures. The Constitution needs to reflect this new form of government.
The secret is to take advantage of the cultural strengths of the Iraqi people in particular their long-standing tribal leaders and tribal governance. The authority of the tribes needs to be significantly increased. This can be done by having a police force and judicial system that reports to the tribal leaders. The tribal leaders should have control over the local government, local facilities such as schools, and be able to make laws consistent with the laws of a central government and the Constitution.
A small cultural government, Sunni, Shia and Kurd should be established to distribute the central government resources to the tribes and the appointment of an independent appellate judicial system. A National Guard would report to this cultural government. This cultural government should take the form of a council whose members are appointed by the tribes. All tribes within the culture would be participate equally.
The central government should be divided into two separate powers with unique authorities. First would be a central council that was appointed by the cultural councils. There would be an equal number of representatives from each of the cultures. The authority of the Central Council would be the governance of all internal affairs. This will include taxes, regulation of commerce, development of common infrastructure, the passing of laws, management of a Justice Department, commerce inspectors, treasury and other internal regulatory bodies and the appointment of an independent Supreme Court. Additionally, the national police would report to the Justice Department and only would be responsible for enforcing laws and pursuing criminals across tribal boundaries and protection of the national borders. They would have no responsibility within the tribal boundaries.
The office of the President/Prime Minister would be to manage external affairs of the country. He would be responsible for diplomacy including national defense, maintenance of the Army and the management of other agencies that support external affairs such as a Port Authority.
The cultural Council, the Central Council members and the President/Prime Minister would all have term limits defined by the Constitution. This would help limit the corruption that is common among Arab cultures.
Bush is critical for making this work
The first thing he should do is admit that he was wrong. This will be something new and hard for him. Second he needs to bypass the State Department who is useless and use the military to gain the support of the Iraqi people for a new government. Our military already has daily contact with the tribal leaders. The tribal leaders have far greater respect for the American military than they do for their own central government. Once they see the new governance proposal they would be ecstatic.
Once he gains the support of the tribal leaders Bush has to have the backbone to disband the current government and constitution. This can be phased in starting with the tribal leaders, the establishment of cultural councils and finally the two branches of the central government. This would be documented in a new constitution written and ratified by the Central Council. One should expect this process to take at least three years.
Who will enforce the change? The American soldiers who will still be required for at least three years. They can enforce the new governance and the disestablishment of the old government. At the same time the sorry Iraqi army should gain some semblance of competence. After that three brigades of Americans should remain in Iraq for the next 10 years. One brigade would be a tripwire for Iran one brigade would be a tripwire for Syria and Hamas and the third brigade would be the nucleus of the training force of the Iraqi Army. Contractors paid for by the government Iraq would supplement this brigade.
I realize this is just an outline and I welcome any comments or criticism or additional depth.
Labels: Iraqi government
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
What is the fair tax? If you haven't been following the arguments, some basic understandings or at the following websites:
I need help understanding whether the fair tax is revenue neutral with regard to the rich. Since they pay all the taxes today, this is a critical question. What happens to the wealth of the rich while they own it and when they pass it on to their heirs? I need your help your.
What concerns me about the fair tax is whether the advocates of fair tax’s argument on revenue neutrality for the rich who can pass on their wealth to their children is real?
The following is a give-and-take between a doubter named Graetz and the fair tax expert Dr. Kotlikoff.
Graetz misstatement: “Tax reform should not reduce taxes on the very well off.” He contends “that it is hard to do that [tax the wealthy] without keeping some tax on income.”
FairTax rebuttal: Graetz does not acknowledge that a tax on consumption taxes not only current income when it is spent but also accumulated wealth when it is spent. The FairTax, as a consumption tax, is the only tax reform plan that taxes accumulated wealth.
According to Dr. Kotlikoff, “Taxing consumption is effectively the same as taxing wages
plus taxing wealth. The logic is simple if you consider the most straightforward way of taxing consumption, namely via a retail sales tax. In this case, when people spend their wages or their assets on goods and services, they pay sales taxes, meaning they end up with less to consume. This is no different from having the wages and wealth directly taxed, but facing no sales tax. But what about saving one's wages and wealth and spending these funds plus accumulated interest in the future? Doesn't this avoid the consumption tax? No. You end up paying consumption taxes not just on the original sums, but also on the accumulated interest. The same holds if you save your wages and wealth and give it to your kids. When they spend it, they pay consumption taxes on both P&I [principal and interest].” Source: “The Case for the ‘FairTax,’” by Laurence J.
Kotlikoff, Ph.D., The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2005.
I understand Dr. Kotlikoff’s argument on how accumulated wealth ends up in future consumption. But his answer does not adequately address all the revenue neutral issues related to wealth. Since the rich and the very rich pay all the taxes under the current system the fair tax system needs to capture 23% of the money accumulated by the rich and the very rich to be revenue neutral.
The fair tax assumption is that accumulated wealth will be spent on taxable consumption. The rich spend only a small percentage of their annual income and consumption. They invest the rest. The fair tax system does not tax this investment. When this wealth is passed on to their children the fair tax assumption is that it will be spent on consumption. There is no argument for this assumption. The children could behave like a parent and spend only a fraction of the accumulated wealth.
Also the fair tax system does not tax consumption of used products. What the fair tax website does not address is buying a “used” company. Typical behavior of the wealthy.
If you remove this enormous amount of wealth that is currently taxed, but would not be taxed under the fair tax system, I have difficulty understanding how the fair tax system will be revenue neutral?
Liberty or Death