Since President Obama took office, U.S. global competitiveness has declined from the status of No. 1 in 2008 to No. 7 today. The president’s slogan, an “Economy Built to Last,” suggests unchanging and perpetual economic health. But it may also be an insight into the reason for competitiveness decline and into the static thinking of a president who has his feet planted firmly in the last millennium, when Keynesian economic theory promised that government could perfect any economy.
In his 1970 book “Future Shock,” Alvin Toffler warned us of major disruptions in our lives caused by an ever-accelerating rate of change in our technology and culture. In the 20th Century, products and services were far fewer in number than today with life-cycles that lasted decades from conception until obsolescence.
In the last 20 years the information revolution and globalization have geometrically compounded the rate of change. The U.S. private economy is working hard to compete, but the new products and services it creates may last only years or even only months before they are superseded by superior ones.
Government regulations, utterly unable to keep pace with these changes, are an enormous drag on this process. They increase consumer costs and kill jobs or send them offshore.
In our new millennium government economies “Built to Last” will not be in the vanguard, they will fall further and further behind truly free economies.
To restore our competitiveness and broaden the prosperity of the middle class our political leaders must champion smart, lean government. That means sharply focusing federal, state and local governments on their core functions, while holding government officials accountable to ensure those functions are performed with best practices and world class efficiency.
It means eliminating fat and unnecessary regulation while preserving essential protections. It also means empowering markets to provide portable retirement and health care options as well as the periodic retraining solutions needed for the new jobs that will be created at an ever accelerating rate even as the obsolete jobs disappear.
Only when we have smart, lean government will all of America prosper and again become the world’s unchallenged economic leader.
CEO, U.S. Rack, Madera