Control Our Government to Raise Americans’ Standard of Living

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg  By Bob Shapiro


Welcome to US Issues Blog. This is the first of (hopefully many) posts. Let’s jump right in!

The US Economy and Americans’ standard of living have grown tremendously over the last 100 years. This growth wasn’t all in a straight line.

Before the Great Depression, worker productivity gained at roughly 3.5% a year. During the 1950s and 1960s, productivity growth had slowed to around 2.5%, and continued going down to about 2% until 2000.

The Great Recession lasted for a few years – by some measures it’s been going on for the last 12+ years – with GDP growth since 2000 continuing its decline to a dead stop.


Chart courtesy of

Not so coincidentally, the US government has grown, taking in much more in taxes, spending more and more, running up a fantastic National Debt, and enacting many volumes of regulations on the Economy.

In the 1930s, the concept of GNP (now GDP) was created, defining government spending as a positive for the US Economy. This definition justified the continual expansion of government.

However, since the source of all the goods and services which make up Americans’ standard of living is the private, productive sector, growing government has crowded out our engine of economic progress more and more.

In future posts, I’ll put some numbers to all these things, but for now it will be sufficient to state the obvious. The size, the reach, the promises made, and the debt incurred by our federal government are not sustainable.

Recognizing that there is no single silver bullet available to fix this mess, may I suggest a first step. Let’s take a lesson from the sage who said, “When you find that you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first solution is to stop digging.” Here is my first proposal in what I expect to be a long list.

Action Item: Both houses of the US Congress should enact rule changes which mandate that, “No Bill may come up for a vote, or be passed into law by this body, if it exceeds 50 pages in length. Suspension of this rule shall require a 2/3 super-majority, and repeal of this rule shall require a 3/4 super-majority.”

If a member of Congress cannot state what the proposed law should be in 50 pages or less, then that member of Congress doesn’t know what he wants!

Today, we see Bills amended with something to buy this vote and something to buy that vote and so on until a majority has been bought reached. When I was a kid, bribing a public official – much less a member of Congress – was against the law. Why is it not against the law today?

A 50 page limit on Bills would slow down Congress’ ability to cause additional damage.


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