How to supercharge the economy

The Futurist had a brilliant piece on 8 ways to supercharge the US economy. Most are common sense and reasonably un-partisan. Here they are:

6 for Government:
1) Allow anyone with a bachelor's degree to work in the US, no questions asked. My wife and I are currently going through the process of getting her a green card. It is unconscionable. We have had the smoothest possible route and used no lawyers, and it will cost us about $3000 and a year apart when all is said and done. She has a bachelor's degree from a US university, and has worked in the US before. I would say, just throw open the borders period; but I can see where that would go politically. But seriously, we lose the productivity of a class of people (educated immigrants) who start businesses and employ people and innovate at way, way, way above the national average. Then we turn around and lose outsourced jobs because those same people are starting companies in their home countries. We lose an average of probably 3-4 jobs (real jobs, not the kind that the government "makes") for every college-educated immigrant we keep out of the US. It's beyond stupid.

2) Simplify the tax code. How about just getting rid of it altogether? If that's not going to happen, there are a half dozen better way than an intrusive and loophole-filled income tax. A national sales tax would be fair and it would promote savings and investment over consumption. A property tax, especially an unimproved value tax rather than an assessed value tax, would be about as fair as you can get - tax people for the value they don't create, only sit on and scarcify. Or a resource extraction/destruction tax that taxed corporations or individuals for withdrawing natural resources or polluting. The point is, there is not a worse way to do it than we are doing it.

3) Exempt entrepreneurs from taxes on their shares and options. I love this one, but I wonder what you would call an "entrepreneur" - is it an initial shareholder? That seems reasonable, but then you would have rich people incorporating zombie companies for the tax shelter. I like the idea of a 0% corporate tax on revenues only for the first 3 years of incorporation. But it's all a little contrived. Really, if you want to make entrepreneurship live again in the US, you would do some simple things: massive deregulation of markets, massive deregulation of private investment, make health care a personal expense again, cut the corporate and personal income tax rates.

4) Make Sarbanes-Oxley voluntary. Along with just about every accounting law or regulation on the books for businesses.

5) Reform divorce laws. He argues that easy assymetrical alimony + no-questions divorce = lots of divorced men with little financial incentive to work hard. True. How about this: reform marriage law. As in, get rid of it. Why does the government have ANY business in the institution of marriage? Seriously! Why?

6) Make tax day one day before election day. This is ingenious. This alone would go a long way towards making us hold our politicians responsible. But I would suggest pairing this with an end to paycheck exemptions, so that everyone had to write a humongous check the day before election day.

For corporations:
7) Try salary reductions before you go for layoffs. I don't see why this isn't done more. You could even offer stock to people who get their pay axed, as an incentive to help pull the company through. Layoffs and re-hiring are a phenomenal expense and inefficiency.

For the people:
8) Improve your health through easy stuff. Change your diet and exercise. Save us hundreds of billions per year, and live happier and longer lives. All it takes is some discipline. Indeed.

It's a pretty good list. Most of these suggestions are in the "duh." column. Unfortunately, they're pretty unlikely to happen.

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