Just came up with an idea on how to make the United States people fairly happy and to motivate them to progress as a nation.
Make civil and community service workers tax-exempt. Teachers, police, fire fighters, medics, public defense lawyers, soldiers and other workers who get paid by tax-dollars... make 'em all tax-exempt. Not private-sector employees, mind you, but government employees. Rent-a-cops, private school teachers, politicians, private practice doctors and other such privately-funded peoples would pay taxes just like anyone else, but the people who work their asses off for the sake of the community at large? Give something back to them for their service to the rest of us.
The object would be to encourage the general populace to progress. For instance, education throughout the nation is abyssmal. Part of this is due to the lack of motivation on the part of the teachers. I mean, these people come to work every day and basically get shit on by our nation's youth (to say nothing of how our nation's parents treat teachers). They don't get paid much to begin with and then they've got to pay taxes for a job which is funded by some of their own tax dollars. Lift that burden from them and make their lives a little easier, allow them to see some personal benefits from their hard work and the daily headaches they have to put up with. I'd be willing to bet that education would not only improve, but more teaching positions would get filled. Same thing goes for nurses (and there is a massive shortage of them!).
Then, to balance out the "loss" in tax-money, increase taxes for people whose net worth is over $1 million annually to about 25%, flat tax. No loop holes, no negotiation. Flat tax on those who can afford it while those who get paid beans can feel encouraged to do their jobs competently.
Naturally, the rich folks would pitch a woeful bitch about it, but in the long-run, it'd do them and everyone else a world of good. Their own children would be able to reap quality benefits from the public services and (gasp!) might even feel compelled to participate sometime later on down the road instead of becoming neo-political capitalists. The folks on Capitol Hill could call it the "Civil Investment Tax", or something trite like that, to up-play the idea that such a tax would be an investment in the nation as a whole.
It's just a basic idea, but I think it's a decent one that would solve a lot of problems in our country. Would it ever be put into action? Not in a million years. But that doesn't mean it isn't a good idea. Does it?