After leaving the accountant yesterday, I sent a bitter email to a friend, somebody who, like me, has a secondary income from writing: “I feel like I write books solely for the benefit of the IRS,” I griped.

“You do,” she replied. I don’t begrudge a dime for our efforts in Iraq. But I feel that I work so that others don’t have to. In other words, I begrude every penny that goes to entitlement programs. 

With an aging population, the situation can only get worse, especially for younger workers. That is why we must listen to Charles Murray, an original thinker if ever there was one, who hangs his hat at the American Enterprise Institute.

Murray has what may be the only idea that can save us. The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan Last sums up Murray’s idea in a review of Murray’s new book:

“In his new book, In Our Hands, Murray offers what he calls ‘the Plan’: Halt all government entitlement programs and redistribute tax money directly to citizens. The Plan is elegantly simple. When you turn 21, you begin receiving monthly income from the federal government–deposited directly into your bank account–that totals $10,000 a year. This grant keeps coming, month after month, until the day you die.

“Not everyone gets to keep the full $10,000. Once your salaried income hits $25,000, the size of your grant diminishes gradually until those making above $50,000 get only $5,000 a year. The only condition is that you not be in jail–once you’re out of the pokey, you get the money.

Murray’s main objective, according to Last, is a better way to fund retirement benefits-if somebody saved just $2,000 a year for retirement, they would be better off than under the current system. (Not that there is any guarantee that everybody will save, but even liberals might look askance at those who didn’t under this system!)

The beauty of the Plan is that over time it would save people like me (and probably you!) from toiling even more for the IRS than I did last year. As Last notes:

“[T]he math is seductive. If we were to implement Murray’s Plan tomorrow, it would be slightly more expensive than the current entitlement system–$355 billion more expensive. But the beauty of the Plan is that it is essentially a steady-state model. By 2011, our current entitlement system will cost just as much as Murray’s Plan. By 2020, it will cost $549 billion more.”

And it may not be a pipedream:

“Before you dismiss the Plan as an academic exercise, know this: In 1984, Murray wrote the book Losing Ground, which advocated a massive overhaul of the American welfare system. Those ideas became a reality just 12 years later.”