Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our Problems Lie Within The Politics

We hear a lot of talk about the difficulties we face as a country.  High unemployment, a stagnant economy, skyrocketing debt, burgeoning deficits, oppressive regulations, ineffective education, collapsing infrastructure; the list goes on and on.  The problems are so big it makes you wonder if we can ever find our way out.
The truth of the matter is that these problems, while serious and difficult to solve are not insurmountable.  We have demonstrated many times in the past that we as a society are capable of doing great things when the need arises.
So why haven’t we tackled these obvious difficulties with the same verve and vigor that we have in the past?  The answer is simple.
The only thing standing between us and the robust economy and world leadership we once knew is politics.
Let’s take just one example to prove our point. 
Right know our economy is suffering from lack of growth.  One of the reasons for that is that investors are holding onto their money.  At present there are roughly $2 trillion dollars in capital sitting in off shore accounts that could be invested in this country; $2 trillion dollars that if repatriated into the US would spur economic growth and create jobs.  It is estimated that the unemployment rate would be cut in half if that money came back into the country.  So how do we get investors to invest in America? 
Both sides of the aisle agree that our 35% corporate tax rate, one of the highest in the world, is the primary reason that those funds are held off shore.  So one solution would be to reduce the corporate rate to less than the world average…say 10, 15 or encourage investment in the US; but tie access to those tax credits to the hiring of American workers.  You want lower corporate taxes…create jobs here in America.  Quid pro quo!  Seems simple!
While we would like to take credit for this simple yet effective solution we cannot.  This idea was proffered by Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz.  Mr. Schultz is a businessman who understands that to get something you have to give something.  He is also a clear headed individual whose thought process is  unencumbered by the yoke of politics and the desire to be re-elected.
And therein lies the problem.  Politics! 
Everyone knows what we need to do to solve our problems.  We need to increase the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare.  We need to cut the cost of Medicare.  We need to reform our healthcare distribution system, reduce our military footprint, reduce our corporate tax rate and reform our tax code so that all Americans pay an equitable share.  We need to invest in innovation, infrastructure and education to position ourselves to compete on the world stage. Every poll shows that at least 70% of all Americans agree that these changes need to be made.  And the only thing standing between us and a resolution to these problems is politics.
If we could find a way to put smart, like minded people into a room…people without any political motive…people like Howard Schultz…we believe it would not take them very long to come up with equitable solutions to our seemingly insurmountable problems.  But until we find a way to set politics aside our problems will continue.
Our difficulties lie not within problems themselves; nor in finding equitable solutions. Our difficulties lie within the politics.

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