Academic journal article The Government Accountants Journal

Balancing the Books: Light Reading

Academic journal article The Government Accountants Journal

Balancing the Books: Light Reading

Article excerpt

The title of this book poses a statement, not a question. What comes next is the end of big government in response to the new paradigm of the computer age. The old paradigm is the bureaucratic model of government--the command-and-control system whose influence reached its zenith with the mainframe computer. The new paradigm's driving force is the science of computers and the "five 'Cs' of the cyber-economy:" currency, computers, cinema, CDs and cable. The picture on the cover provides a striking metaphor: we are driving one of a cluster of vehicles, speeding along a stream of electronic pulses, with the Capitol dome in the rearview mirror.

The New Paradigm Big Offer

Pinkerton presents what he calls a manifesto and challenges "anyone--Democrat, Republican, or others" to articulate a "New Paradigm Big Offer." He cites only three successful "big offers" in American history: the American Revolution and the establishment of democracy; Lincoln's preservation of the Union, free land for whites, and emancipation for blacks; and Roosevelt's New Deal. The New Paradigm Big Offer must be based on three principles.

The first idea involves incentives to private sector wealth creation in the form of (1) a flat tax on income or a progressive consumption tax, and (2) cuts in discretionary spending that are fair and changes in entitlement program that save the country from "age war."

Second, Pinkerton proposes downsizing and rightsizing government through privatization and federalism. Specifically, only the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice and Interior would be "keepers" for the federal government. He would abolish most programs in the Agriculture, Commerce, Labor and Health and Human Services departments, and transfer Census, Labor Statistics, food stamps and Forest Service. The missions of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education and Veterans Affairs would be privatized or funded with block grants to the states.

The third principle would be self-determination of all Americans for health care, education and work. The means for providing consumer choice in health care would be Medical Savings Accounts. He proposes vouchers combined with efficient information to aid consumers in making good choices in education. In the realm of work, he offers welfare to work programs funded with block grants to states, and a program like the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps, but focused on reclaiming the environment and repairing the nation's infrastructure.

Pinkerton says this is the Big Offer the voters are waiting for. These principles resonate with a consensus of Americans about enduring values: democracy, markets, nondiscrimination and compassion. …

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