In Ayn Rand’s classic “Atlas Shrugged,” society begins to crumble after the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists and business people withdraw their services from a culture that distains success and rewards failure by empowering cynical politicians to confiscate the fruits of their labors and redistribute them.
How many times since President Barack Obama came to power has withdrawing your services sounded like a good idea to you? That thought must occur pretty regularly to anyone who invests in the energy sector, provides healthcare, employs pilots and mechanics to service a corporate jet, or simply works hard to make more than $200,000 a year in a small business.
Today, Rand’s characters seem to come to life during the television news to deliver a Fred Kinnan-like Labor Day screed against the tea party, a Eugene Lawson-inspired federal housing policy, and a caricature of Horace Mowen in the president’s box during his speech on jobs and the economy.
It should surprise no one who knows Rand’s work that the small business owners and entrepreneurs who are the backbone of the tea party movement look around today and wonder if they aren’t living one of the more depressing scenes in "Atlas Shrugged."
Try as they might, President Obama and his liberal Democrat allies in Congress have had no success in creating jobs by redistributing wealth through federal taxing and borrowing.
As tea partiers see it, those very policies are what have created the unique problem that separates today’s recession from past economic difficulties.
Today, something on the order of $2 trillion of private capital is sitting on the sidelines; not being invested in what is an "Atlas Shrugged"-like “capital strike” brought on by the uncertain business environment created by Obamanomics.
If taxing and borrowing have failed to create jobs, what will it take to get that $2 trillion in private capital off the sidelines and back to work to create jobs? Here are five tea party-inspired ideas.
End the class warfare policies and class envy rhetoric. There’s a good argument to be made that the most economically destructive thing Obama and the Democrats have done over the past few years is to engage in an unrelenting campaign vilifying business, entrepreneurs, and economic success.
They don’t seem to understand that America’s exceptional economic prosperity has been built from the bottom up, one man or woman at a time seeking success. If success suddenly becomes disreputable or even evil, why seek it? Restoring success in business as an honored occupation will do more than all the Small Business Administration loans and other government handouts to encourage job creation.
End the crony capitalism that is rife in Obama’s Washington. Why innovate when you can legislate? In the Obama economy it is much better to be a good lobbyist than to be a good businessman. Mandating green energy, construction projects that are really handouts to unions, and giving bailouts to favored banks are just a few of the ways Obama cronies who are good at lobbying, but bad at business, have managed to transfer billions of dollars from successful competitors and hapless consumers into their own pockets.
While no one expects the government to stop regulating, if we want to restore economic growth and encourage job creation, we need to end the Obama administration’s habit of regulating in favor of their friends, campaign donors, and starry-eyed inventors who would otherwise fail in a consumer-driven free market.
End the Obama culture of waivers and free passes. In Obama’s Washington the only people who have to follow the rules are those who are too dumb to ask for a waiver or too out-of-favor politically to receive one — everyone else is eligible for a free pass. This is especially true of laws that Obama and the Pelosi Congress passed.
Obamacare too expensive? If you are a union that supported Obama in the last election and is expected to help him in 2012, you get a waiver. Own a swanky restaurant in Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco congressional district? You get an Obamacare waiver while Mom’s Diner in the Midwest has to pay. Is your suburban school district meeting the federal standards? Keep raising your property taxes to pay for those mandates, but failing union-hobbled urban schools get a waiver.
A level economic playing field is essential to the operation of a free market. Until we re-establish the rule of law and once again become a nation of laws, not waivers, economic activity will be warped by who got a pass and who didn’t and job creation will continue to suffer.
End Obama’s campaign to save dying unions. The Obama administration’s campaign to force job-killing unions on American employers and employees is indicative of how divorced they are from economic reality outside the Beltway. Outside the Beltway there is a global market for goods and services and premier American companies, such as Boeing and Wal-Mart, which can benefit of countless American employees, suppliers, shareholders, and satellite businesses. In this competitive environment, American unions often make it impossible for these companies to survive.
In a free market, unions would adjust or die, as they have in other sectors of the economy — but not while Obama is in the White House. The Obama administration has been unrelenting in its efforts to impose unionization on the unenthusiastic employees of employers who are fearful of losing their competitive place in the market.
The latest example of this campaign is Obama’s use of the National Labor Relations Board (stacked with handpicked union operatives) to stop Boeing, America’s largest exporter, from opening a new plant in right-to-work state South Carolina.
Repeal Obamacare and other policies that add uncertainty to the economy. Obamacare is a major driver of the uncertainty hindering business investment. Reasonable projections are that Obamacare will cost nearly $2 trillion — not surprisingly an amount similar to the capital that business is holding on the sidelines.
Tea partyers recognize that Obamacare’s “cost savings” have been a sham from the beginning — there is no cost savings; only cost shifting to the taxpayers at large, those with employer-provided health insurance and healthcare providers. While these and the coercive individual mandate are reasons tea partyers oppose Obamacare on principle, they are not Obamacare’s most damaging effects.
The law’s greatest economic drag is that it doesn’t fully take effect until 2014, at which point more unforeseen costs will likely emerge — making former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment that “we have to pass it to know what’s in it” seem all the more frightening and prophetic to businesspeople trying to plan and job seekers hoping for the economy to take-off.
For more on fixing the economy the tea party way, read "The Economy After Three Years of Obamanomics
" and "Tame the Leviathan
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