Listen up, American industry. We are not in a recession or economic slowdown.
This is a full-blown financial and economic collapse brought about by years of public mismanagement. The government created the subprime mortgage problem and has done everything it can to make the situation worse. We’re the only ones that can get us out of this mess, and it’s past time for us to act.
Here’s what we need to do.
First, stand up for the private sector. We’re sick of being the whipping boy for politicians, unions, NGOs, and other interest groups only to be later hit up for donations when their funds run low. Our firms serve paying customers, individuals and organizations with real choices in the marketplace. If we are successful, we create far more wealth for others via jobs, investments, and tax collections then we ever see ourselves.
The reality is that the private sector works. Even in this crisis we’re in, Americans can still buy food, energy, medication, entertainment, communication, transportation, and everything else they need to get through the day. That’s despite the tens of thousands of pages of new legislation that is dumped on us every year by the thousands of government officials standing between us and our customers, suppliers, investors, and employees.
The answer to what’s ailing America is more market competition, not more regulation. Our citizens have five hundred channels on their digital televisions but can’t get their children out of a failing public school or sign up for affordable health insurance because meddling bureaucrats have restricted supply. If we don’t champion the free market, what alternative will people have to institutionalized failure?
Second, speak the truth. Do not be afraid to tell employees that well-meaning politicians have made the prospects of layoffs far more likely, or to inform customers that the current legislative agenda will make their goods and services less affordable. Any concerns about offending left-leaning associates must take a back seat to the welfare of customers, employees, and investors that will be harmed by these policies.
Understand that while some will always accuse us of politicking or advocating our own self-interest, most fair-minded people will listen, recognizing that our opinions and observations simply carry the weight of our responsibilities. Most Americans are practical people and they have little use for political correctness or false hope, two commodities always in oversupply. They want honesty.
Third, get involved. Voting for a major candidate once every four years isn’t engagement. Run for office yourself if you have the thick skin, or else support good people who are doing so, especially at the primary level. Those of us who have managed multi-million dollar projects or investments may be surprised at what a dozen $2,300 contributions can do early in the election cycle. No incumbent wants to face a well-funded primary challenger.
The goal of a political party is to build a national organization that can effortlessly put allies into undeserved positions of power. This is the path that leads to lightweights like Nancy Pelosi writing a $787 billion stimulus bill. Rather than supporting a party, consider supporting organizations that understand and respect the contributions of private industry and market-based solutions, that back candidates that share those views, and that are effective at getting messages out in both traditional and conservative media.
There are a number to choose from. A few examples: FreedomWorks, American Solutions, AEI, the Club for Growth, and the Heritage Foundation. For the Democrats that want to rescue the party from the progressives, there’s the Third Way and of course, the Blue Dogs.
Libertarians have both the Cato Institute and the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, among the smartest minds on economic issues. All of these organizations not only produce excellent and insightful reports, but they are supporting us in some way and returning the favor is the right thing to do, especially in these critical times. By the same logic it may be time to drop that subscription to the Economist.
Fourth, don’t work for failures. If politicians “rescue” your company and put themselves on the board, go find another job as quickly as you can and take your best people with you. Nobody inside or outside the firm will respect your contributions if you stay. If you somehow rise to CEO, you’re just another government employee with less clout than the average Hillary staffer. Was it worth it?
Have no illusions — these bailout firms will fail, fail, and fail again. You don’t want that on your resume, and you don’t want to build a professional network out of people who settle for failure. Beware of even having these firms as a customer, as decisions will not be made on price or product quality, but on one’s ability to help a politician secure re-election.
Fifth, move — or at least consider it. Its no shock that politicians in eternal denial on economic issues also don’t understand that investors and employees have choices and that hundreds of locales are competing for us. Now is the time to hammer that reality home.
One single press release announcing hundreds of job transfers down south or overseas in response to the latest blunder in the name of social justice will get more attention than a hundred speeches. Less jobs means less money for the workforce, the community, and the tax collectors, and that can’t be ignored. Give your best employees relocation and let the rest suffer the consequences of higher taxes and more regulation.
And if you do move overseas, don’t let anyone call you a Benedict Arnold. We have responsibilities to our investors, our customers, and our own families, and it’s a false patriotism that demands that we shirk those duties. Be open and honest as to why the transfer is happening, and what our elected officials could have done, and could still do, to help keep American exceptionalism at home rather than drive it elsewhere.
Finally, keep building. Let others spend their days trading T-bills and munis and currency swaps and shares in state-owned enterprises as the prices bounce around in response to the latest speech, Fed minutes, or legislative roll call. That’s a sucker’s game for those who think they are insiders, run by those who actually are.
We, more than anyone else, understand the real, productive economy, which is the efficient delivery of products and services to the people who want and need them. Despite the greens’ efforts to drag us back to the false utopia of deprivation, billions of people on this planet want more housing, food, clothing, transportation, health care, and education for their families and are willing to work hard to get it, and the most productive live right here in America.
Now maybe it is destiny for exceptionalism to bloom elsewhere, and for people like us to take our wealth, experience, entrepreneurship, and values to places like Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Colón, Santiago, Shenzen, Singapore, and Zurich and build anew. America becomes a nice place to visit with a few healthy industries, but just a shadow of its former self. Some say that day has already come, and that the financial crisis is simply the reckoning for our past arrogance and independence.
Not so fast. The American people not only deserve better than that, they are better than that. Show them that their incompetent government is standing in the way of prosperity, and they will obliterate it without a second thought. Ask Gray Davis.
But even if the citizenry remains convinced that they should tack on an extra 80-150 percent to the pre-tax cost of the American dream to fund a failed welfare state and corpulent public sector, efficiency and productivity will still matter. They always matter, and that’s why we need to keep building.
The laws of a financially irresponsible government will be no match for the laws of economics. Of that there can be no doubt. Ultimately the question for us both as individuals and as a group is whether we have the moral stamina to hasten its passing and then to get to work cleaning up the mess.
It’s not a burden we should wish for ourselves, yet others in this country’s great history have faced burdens far weightier. Thanks to their efforts, we have all of the tools at our disposal that we need — the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the political process.
We are the cavalry, and it’s time to saddle up and rescue the country.