Modern industrial society is on the road to eventual collapse due to diminishing returns on investments in additional complexity. (If that doesn't make sense, please read this introduction to the subject: http://dieoff.org/page134.htm ) The fundamental reason that returns should diminish at all is that space and natural resources are finite.
In light of this view, which is becoming increasingly mainstream, it would seem that the best policies to adopt would be ones that decrease, rather than increase, complexity in all areas of society, and that stimulate a return to easier, less energy-intensive ways of getting things done.
The difficulty is translating this into practical steps. I can see what needs to happen, but I have no idea how such changes might actually take place in advance of an actual collapse:
- downsizing of the military to the level necessary to protect national borders and ensure domestic security
- substantial reduction in the cost and complexity of healthcare
- substantial reduction in federal, state, and private indebtedness
- reduction in all manner of handouts
- reduction in the cost and complexity of education
- reduction in the cost, complexity, and expansiveness of the penitentiary system
- gradual phasing out of systems that require high energy inputs to maintain; timely replacement with lower-cost systems (particularly transportation, food production, and housing)
- gradual phasing out of consumer credit as a common practice
- introduction of some form of simple employment programs to ease the transition of the jobless and those who are culled from the modern workplace as complexity begins to drop
One of the most obvious solutions is to somehow create incentives for the relocalization of food production that would cause the jobless and former prisoners and soldiers to get involved in growing food. This could be done by taxing some aspect of energy-intensive food production (but only through a simple tax scheme!) and allowing individual food growers to sell food tax-free.
Plans need to be devised for repatriating soldiers and prisoners (in the U.S. at least). If mechanisms are developed that give people the prospect of self-sufficiency (like the homesteading provisions of the 19th century), people who are currently a burden on the system might become motivated to try to achieve self-sufficiency.
It seems logical to increase taxes on energy usage while reducing property taxes and zoning restrictions and promoting "off the grid" home management. This could motivate people to pursue true land ownership and independence from the complex systems that currently run their lives.
People need to be given as many routes as possible to provide for themselves. This will allow the state to reduce expenditures on social security.