Give Them an Out

07/15/2010 10:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Amitai Etzioni Professor of international relations, George Washington University

The U.S. Department of Justice should draft a contract for every American who opposes "big government" and wishes to cut it down and have their taxes slashed. The contract should stipulate that those who sign it will have to pay only a third of the regular tax rate (to cover the costs of our military and homeland security). However, in exchange they will not be entitled to any government services. 

They will not be able to obtain passports, enter public parks, or use the highway system paid for by the federal government. They will all go on the no-fly list because they have not paid for the air control system. They will have to take their children out of public schools. Above all, if they grow ill, they will have to pay the doctors a fee that will help cover the costs of training these physicians which is now largely covered by the federal government. If they are hospitalized, they will have to pay their share of the building costs, also often largely covered by the federal government, including of the so called "private" hospitals. 

The contract will of course have to be much longer. In effect, I suspect that it will extend to at least 20 single-spaced pages. However, you get the point. We shall never be able to gain a hearing from the millions who have been brainwashed by the libertarian nonsense and its laissez-faire conservative accompaniments until we find a dramatic way to drive home the point that although there is great room -- in effect, urgent need -- to reform our government, nobody really wants to live without most of the services it does provide. And if a bunch of libertarians want to sign the contract and move to some mountaintop and take care of each other, so be it. Just remind them not to call 911 in an emergency.