I write this not to make suggestions, but to start a conversation and consider the nature of our problems as a nation. First, I want to raise the issue of the trade deficit. Our trade deficit is hundreds of billions of dollars a year. For those of you that don’t know, the trade deficit is the difference between the monetary value of what we import and what we export. If we exported a higher value than what we imported we would have a trade surplus, like China has, but since we import more than we export we have a trade deficit. Our trade deficit is the amount of money that leaves the USA every year and doesn’t come back. It is a hole in the economy that is bleeding money. My understanding is that if the trade deficit was small enough, there would be enough time for a deflationary effect that would make the lesser wealth of our nation be worth the same as if we hadn’t lost anything at all. However, our trade deficit is hundreds of billions of dollars a year. In ten years, at that rate, the country will have lost almost half as much as the amount of our entire GDP. My understanding is that when a recession happens, people spend less money, causing businesses to have less revenue, causing them to cut back, amounting to fewer salaries which would lead to less spending, and on and on in a vicious cycle, which is why many economists think the government should increase spending, so that there are more salaries to stop the cycle. I’m suggesting that perhaps the massive loss of capital from a trade deficit could also trigger a recession like effect, or at least make a recession worse. I’d like to know what people think about that. If, however, we had a trade surplus we might see the kind of economic growth that China is benefiting from. Of course, a large trade surplus for us would mean a large trade deficit for our trading partners – our potential allies – and in an increasingly globalized world that could be as dangerous as it is unhealthy. The most conventional approach to fixing the trade deficit would be to raise tariffs on our imports, but it’s my understanding that if we did that then our trading partners would raise tariffs on our goods, which would hurt our businesses, and since we export over a trillion dollars’ worth of goods, the loss may make that option less desirable than other options. I was thinking that maybe the government could provide domestic vouchers for products that are already subsidized by other nations, like solar panels. Making the vouchers only domestic would mean that China’s solar panels would still be competitive in international markets, and they probably wouldn’t retaliate since it would be our response to their unfair trading practices. I’d like to know what people think about that. Also, I was thinking that in cities where many people live in the same city where they work, that free public transportation could lower our oil consumption, especially if it’s biodiesel buses that are also electric hybrids that have solar panels on top… at least if it was biodiesel we could provide that for ourselves… the higher cost of biodiesel would just amount to more American salaries. I have some ideas about how we could free up farm land for more biodiesel production which I will address further on. The next concept I would like to address is why we need government in the first place. This is also about the nature of the limits of economic growth. The first thing that makes economic growth possible is increased efficiency in producing the basic necessities. When producing goods becomes more efficient, more people’s needs will be met. At a certain point, everyone’s needs will be met, and as providing for those needs becomes more efficient, people’s time will be freed up to produce other things that people are willing to buy. At a certain point, there just won’t be enough time in the day to use all of the crap that we would have to buy to provide everyone with a job, and as production becomes EVEN MORE efficient, there are only a few ways to make sure everyone has a job. First, people could work fewer hours, and as increased efficiencies lower prices, the lower salaries would be sufficient, but since healthcare costs for the business are per person, the business is more likely to simply cut the number of jobs. The second way to create jobs in this hypothetical super-efficient world is for the employed general population to pool their money (taxes) for some democratically elected group of administrators (government) to create jobs that need to be done that otherwise wouldn’t be done, or at least wouldn’t be done with the proper regulation. A third way to create jobs might be flooding the job market with people that are trained to perform high paying jobs like that of doctor, or lawyer, in hopes that more people will be employed, but just making less money. That’s basically the first method, except that this third method can be facilitated by the government. Perhaps full scholarships – offered to any high school student that graduates with a 4.0 GPA and then maintains a 4.0 GPA throughout college – for becoming a lawyer, or a doctor. Once I read about a country with a great education record that only hired teachers that had gotten the best GPAs and test scores, but since we don’t pay our teachers enough to make that work, maybe we can offer full scholarships for teaching degrees and/or specialty degrees if they get and maintain a 4.0 GPA. But for this idea, and others further in this letter, teachers will have to make it clear to students at every grade level that a 4.0 can get them far ahead in life no matter what income level, but much more assured than otherwise. Materials on proper nutrition, study strategies based on science, and ear plugs should be available to all students at all grade levels. And while we’re on the subject of secondary education, I was thinking that perhaps the government could estimate how many people it takes, per job, to provide the basic necessities for a single individual, and then monitor how many people have those various jobs, how many people are studying for said jobs, and then alter student loan interest rates to bring in enough people to said jobs so that the correct proportions of people are employed in the right jobs. Assuming that those jobs are too efficient to employ everyone immediately, perhaps government jobs would be in order… and when amounts of goods that people (who have the money) are willing to buy increases, government jobs (and thus taxes) can be cut, unless, of course, the free market job would create a non-essential product at the expense of a necessary government job, like laying off prison guards so people could make barby dolls… that would be undesirable. But besides explaining why government jobs are essential, the main point of this is to illustrate the two limits to economic growth: science, and desirability of products. New products can be sold because old products become more efficiently produced, and the willingness to buy new products drives the economic growth. The point is that science has its limits, even if we don’t completely understand them yet, and people don’t have enough time in the day to use all the crap they would need to buy to employ everyone, so we have to stop thinking we can just grow our way out of every economic problem, and focus on sustainability. I think a big part of financial deregulation is the lack of investment opportunities in this country since we’ve already grown about as much as we possibly can, making investment in itself less profitable, and people seem to think they should be making more money than their predecessors, so they’re attempting to lower taxes and increase the amount of money to invest to increase the opportunities to make money. Unfortunately, the rich are now making their money at the expense of quality of life for the average person, with taxes on the rich lower than they ever have been in our nation’s history. I wouldn’t mind that, if it weren’t for the pooling effect of money amongst the owner class. Because the richest people in our society spend the lowest percentage of their income, money tends to pool amongst the owner class and make them increasingly more powerful, which is why I’m calling for extra brackets on the gift/death tax. The issue of the gift/death tax is the issue of equality of opportunity for each and every American. I mean, how many generations in a single family should a single rich person be able to fund lives of luxury without them ever having to earn it for themselves? However, I don’t think that businesses being passed from a dead person to a live person should necessarily be taxed the way they are today. I think perhaps if the business were small enough that there should only be a gift/death tax on it if it is sold within 5 years after it comes into the new person’s possession. I’d just like to point out once again that the ENTIRE issue with the gift/death tax is equality of opportunity… either the income tax has to go up for the rich (BECAUSE they spend a smaller percentage of their income than the poor) or the death tax has to. We don’t necessarily need both to go up, but we do need at least one to go up, and by a significant enough amount, and maybe just a slight amount for both, because there is a POOLING effect of money amongst the owner class, and since the 1970’s, not only has quality of life for the AVERAGE American gone down, but that has to be taken into account with the increase of wealth for the top 1% being at a far greater percentage rate than the increase of wealth for the rest of the country, these facts together DIRECTLY MEAN THAT EITHER THE INCOME TAX FOR THE RICH SHOULD GO UP, OR THE DEATH TAX SHOULD, OR BOTH. The point is, once upon a time, before Reagan was president and decided we needed to take on ridiculous amounts of debt, taxes were higher than they are today, people were able to pay their taxes, quality of life for the average person was higher, and we had a balanced budget. So what we need to do, is balance the budget, maybe come up with a contingency plan for producing the necessities of what we currently import in case we default on our loans and the value of the dollar crashes, and then start negotiating debt interest reductions and a payment plan. And finally I’d like to talk about K-12 public education reform. First, we need to utilize the test out option in order to shrink class sizes. Many subjects can be taught 100% through books alone, like math, history, some science, PE, and possibly languages. I understand that there are a lot of bad textbooks which make real life teachers necessary, but over time those mistakes CAN be fixed, and only the best textbooks can be used. In order to give incentive for students to test out of classes I suggest the government offer full tuition to college once a student graduates high school, lasting until their 18th birthday, that way students will have incentive to take home textbooks over the summer to study so they can test out of classes before the next school year. I would set the limit at one textbook for free, and then let them put down a deposit for more textbooks per summer, just so the test wouldn’t have to be so close to the next school year – for logistical reasons. The most important part of the test-out program that would allow it to work is teachers REMINDING students about it every day for the month before summer, in almost every year of grades K-12, and reminding them that the government could pay for college every year before their 18th birthday, and making sure that parents know about that as well so they can encourage their kids to save them money on higher education. PE should be an obvious target for testing out of class. First, students have to be taught a minimum-guaranteed-exercise-and-nutrition-program for staying fit. While that would usually include jogging, schools should offer exercycles to families of students that can give a high level of resistance and are as cheap as possible, maybe offering them for a payment plan, mainly because people do sometimes get raped when they’re out jogging, as a minimum-guaranteed-workout would just have to slightly adjust its plan for pushups. And students should also probably be offered stands with a pull-up bar at the top. But I’m a little hesitant to have standard PE classes make people workout as much as they should, since the students might not necessarily get enough protein, and I can’t expect schools to provide enough protein for free, although – when it comes to basic breakfasts and lunches – schools should probably be providing well balanced meals for free with each student having a card they can swipe to get one free breakfast, one free lunch, a multivitamin, and make sure that the meals are vegan and the vitamins don’t have calcium which should be provided by brewer’s yeast and fortified rice milk. But let’s get back to the issue of students testing out of PE. Any student following a minimum-guaranteed-workout-exercise-and-nutrition program should be able to pass the physical fitness tests (pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, mile run), in which case there’s no need to waste money on PE teachers. If they pass every fitness test for all 4 quarters in a row, they should be able to skip PE for the next year, so long as they come in to pass a fitness test once every quarter, which would qualify them to skip PE for another year. And by the way, does anybody out there reading this think it might be cost effective to make an exercycle that produces electricity and maybe puts it back into the grid or maybe runs a small refrigerator box in case of massive power failure from solar flares or a nuclear bomb detonating a mile above the center of the USA? I only ask because the number 10 cans of freeze dried meat have about 4 days-worth of meat for a fit 200 pound man who is not working out, and I think that a small refrigerator box is all that’s needed, as long as the exercycle was kept in a metal container to block it against the EMP effect of solar flares or a nuclear blast. Whatever, back my k-12 ideas… it turns out that there are four PREVENTABLE medical problems that are directly related to diet and nutrition that collectively cost over 600 billion dollars EACH YEAR. So I was thinking that in order to prevent hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of medical costs each year that maybe an extra day could be added at the end of the school year for every year for everyone in grades k-12 where the whole school day consists of a single class where they had to memorize certain data and then take a test to be let out of class for the day… the sooner they pass the test, the sooner they are released, and should be able to take it as many times as they want throughout that day. Perhaps it should also be added to the regular gradable curriculum, or not. Anyway, the 4 conditions are heart-attack/cardiac-arrest/stroke (which I consider to be one condition for the purposes of this letter), type 2 diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. It might surprise some of you to know that 30-60 percent of all cancer is caused by diet. It also might surprise you to know that 30 percent of all cancer (not just lung cancer) is caused by smoking. And it might surprise you to find out that drinking increases cancer risk, and that smoking while drinking, as fun as it is, is worse than their individual risks combined… it’s actually way, way worse. And yes, we do teach kids about osteoporosis, but we teach them that in 9th grade, when they’re about 14, even though the most important time for them to get calcium is between the ages of 5 and 15. The interesting thing about type 2 diabetes is that while foods with a low insulin index can decrease your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, the only thing that has been shown to actually lower your insulin resistance for sure (high insulin resistance being what actually leads to type 2 diabetes) is exercise, particularly a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. And as for cardiac-arrest/heart-attack/stroke, it is actually the number one reason for hospital admittances in the USA. Now I would like to address some less than economic issues. It would be nice if prisons and jails were safe places and at capacity (one person per cell)… because I think that would lead to weaker gangs, as people would not need their protection, and less rape. At the very least (and something we might actually be able to do something about) any law enforcement officer should immediately get 100% protective custody and not be allowed to mingle. I think this would lead to fewer law enforcement officers protecting each other with fallacious testimony, which I think they do because of the saying “you know what happens to cops in prison”, and as a result I think cops would have fewer corrupting gateway incidences and thus would not be what it is that makes so many people not like cops in general. As for Iran, I’m wondering why Israel can’t give up its nukes and submit to UN inspections in return for its neighbors doing the same? As for the issue that could clear up farm land, people might be a little resistant at first, but once they consider all the great reasons to be vegan they’ll at least be in favor of promoting it to their friends, even if they don’t want to make the leap. Feeding a vegan takes far less land than feeding a consumer of animal products, and also far less water. The meat industry also contributes to global warming. To top it all off, the majority of all animal products come from factory farms that are too efficient to take into account quality of life of the animals. Proverbs 12:10 basically says that cruelty to animals is wrong, and if you’re not the one doing the killing it’s difficult to stop the cruelty. But the other great thing about learning HOW to be vegan is that eating 70% fewer animal products will make you a better person by 70%... I swear to God. Also, bear in mind that the more people that become vegan the better it is for everyone else, even if you’re not vegan, so always promote veganism in your conversations. If you do go vegan it’s important to make up for all the vitamins/minerals that meat has, and calcium, and protein. Calcium from vitamin pills could increase chance of blood clots, so it’s best to get a multivitamin without calcium, and get calcium from fortified rice milk or almond milk or some other vegan imitation milk, although soy has been found to slightly inhibit calcium absorption. Some types of brewer’s yeast have some calcium, as do chards, broccoli, kale, and a few other vegetables. Protein can come from grains and legumes and nuts, but if you’re trying to put on muscle you’ll need protein powders so that you don’t gain too much weight. If you’re only going to get a single type of protein powder, about 2/3 of pea protein will be absorbed as complete protein, but about 4/5 of protein that is 2 parts pea protein and 1 part rice protein (by weight) will be absorbed as complete protein. Bear in mind that the body cannot digest/absorb too much protein in any one sitting and that more than that will just be stored as fat. Brewer’s yeast can also make up for a lot of the vitamins/minerals found in meat. I suppose all the vitamins/minerals needed in a complete diet could be found in various natural foods, but that’s a lot of research that you’ll have to do. Once again, I’m less suggesting these things, and more wondering what everyone else thinks of them.