Currently, our President is working on his tax plan. We know nothing about what it will look like, with some very small exceptions. We know that he will try to cut funding for basically everything but the military. We know he will try and cut taxes for the richest, and possibly the middle. That’s about it. I happen to believe that it’s the government’s role to provide things that private industry can’t do at a profit, so this is terrible to people like me. You can’t maximize profit with educational programming. You can’t maximize profit providing healthcare to the poor. You can’t maximize profit by preserving our natural wonders. Private industry, right now, always has the goal to maximize profit. The government doesn’t care about profit. It’s free to pursue other goals. However, there is a way that Trump’s proposal would work in a way I would love.
I was against the Iraq war from long before the first shots were fired. If it were up to me, not a single one of my tax dollars would have gone to the Iraq war. Or the airstrikes on Syria. Or Dubya’s salary. Imagine if you had direct control over the programs you held dear. You chose whether or not to spend money on them. Obviously that plan has its downsides, but it’s a fascinating mental exercise to consider. Would you pay for war? If not, what about paying for soldiers’ paychecks and veterans’ healthcare? The national parks are an easy one. Everyone likes those. What about subsidies for oil, knowing if you didn’t it would cost more to fill your gas tank. How about solar subsidies? If we could somehow choose how every one of our tax dollars were spent it would wildly change what the country’s priorities were.
Trump seems to want some version of that. He wants to end the war on coal. Fine. But that’s not particularly going to help coal miners. We’re moving away from coal for lots of other reasons than government interference. Trump would sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. The state of Maryland already pledged to fill in any gaps that might happen as a result of Trump. Charitable giving is up. Slashing the federal budget means that more people will have more dollars to vote with. If some nonprofit starts up to give healthcare to the poor, much like Planned Parenthood does for women, I would donate happily. Or if an insurance company became a nonprofit and focussed entirely on those with chronic diseases, I would donate there too.
Trump’s budget, assuming he can get one passed, will be a disaster. But it will give us the opportunity to see where our national priorities really are. I think we are better than many give us credit for. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain optimistic.