“But whether it’s via simply mistaken assumptions plus a lack of knowledge about economics or intentional choice, the policies that he has expressed as being desirable are indeed the standard socialist cant.
(I’d like to believe it’s the former rather than the latter; Ron is someone whose thoughts about other things I enjoy reading, and his perceptiveness in people matters is amazing. Socialism is also an easy sell to kind-hearted people who believe its advertising, so… I still think of him as the very decent guy I thought him to be, albeit badly mistaken about economic matters.)”
You got both points right. It is Socialist cant, and I also believe Ron to be a nice guy. As you say “Socialism is also an easy sell to kind-hearted people”, and that is what I believe Ron to be.
“And I’m afraid I’m just not smart enough to propose any feasible solutions.”
Everything else you wrote was smart enough: don’t sell yourself short.
Less Government doesn’t mean shutting down the essentials: Police, Defence and the Courts are essential, although I would argue that America would be just as safe with half it’s current military budget: Do they really need to spend 4 times what China spends on defence, 10 times what Russia spends?
I’m not talking about reducing the policing of businesses to keep their behaviour ethical: I’m talking about the government getting out of any activity the private sector could do better, including Charity.
After that I’d start by freezing all benefits and government employee salaries at current levels until such time as the budget is in surplus: wouldn’t that focus people on spending less?