Speaking of how the government runs its finances today, historian Niall Ferguson wrote:
“The present system is, to put it bluntly, fraudulent. There are no regular published and official balance sheets. Huge liabilities are simply hidden from view. Not even the current income and expenditure statements can be relied upon. No legitimate business could possibly carry on in this fashion. The last corporation to publish financial statements this misleading was Enron.”
This basically sums up the modern American problem. The government operates on one set of rules, hides it from the regular citizenry, and enforces a different set of rules on businesses and families.
No such system has ever remained free.
This is already extracting a terrible toll from our economy. As Ferguson put it:
“In a 2011 survey, [Michael] Porter and his colleagues asked [Harvard Business School] alumni about 607 instances of decisions on whether or not to offshore operations. The United States retained the business in just ninety-six cases (16 percent) and lost it in all the rest.
“Asked why they favored foreign locations, the respondents listed the areas where they saw the U.S. falling further behind the rest of the world. The top ten reasons included:
1. the effectiveness of the political system
2. the complexity of the tax code
4. the efficiency of the legal framework
5. flexibility in hiring and firing.”
In short, a number of other countries have more economic freedom than the U.S. We have more regulations, a more complex tax code, and other problems that make business abroad more attractive for about 84 percent of businesses deciding whether to stay in America or leave.
The average citizen isn’t aware of this reality, or the fact that corporation after corporation is moving to other countries because of Washington’s policies.
Our freedoms are being lost, as business leaders see every day. Yet it continues to happen, and most Americans simply don’t realize it. Nor do they realize how much this hurts our economy and the pocketbooks of U.S. families.
As regulations increase, making it harder and harder for businesses to make a profit, more jobs, capital, and corporations are leaving. The American Dream is declining day after day, right in front of our noses.
For most Americans, the only solution in mind is to elect better government officials. But this hasn’t fixed the problem yet — not by a long shot. The problem gets worse (government spending and regulations increase) whichever party inhabits the White House.
Some other solution is needed, and it will require a return to good, old-fashioned American initiative and innovation — from regular people, not government. Yes, the government makes this more difficult with nearly every passing regulation, but freedom is worth overcoming it anyway.
If we rekindle the American spirit of entrepreneurialism in the next few years, this is a battle we can win. Nothing else will fix the problem.
What are you doing to promote, spread, and teach entrepreneurialism?
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.