Something is seriously out of whack. Why do so many average Americans (those with full-time jobs) seem to be unenthusiastic about their work? When is the last time you heard anyone talking about becoming a millionaire instead of just scraping by? The focus in the current economy seems to be on downsizing and unemployment instead of wild success or even just growth. No one speaks, let alone thinks, of rewards anymore. Who dares to dream about starting their own business these days? Where are all the entrepreneurs?
Incentives? Carrots have become sticks. Visions of sugarplums are gone, replaced by fears of inflation, foreclosures, and punitive taxes. Retirement plans are pushed back. Class warfare is far too commonplace. Even young guys like Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg who achieve beyond their wildest dreams talk about giving away half their fortunes. More on that in a minute.
It is easy to blame a difficult global economy and a world of low cost competitors. But the answers lie a lot closer to home. America has lost its way. This is still the land of opportunity built on free enterprise and initiative. However, decades and decades of perpetual government growth adding more and more unelected bureaucracies and departments and officials and regulators, all funded by a tax system that is Byzantine and designed to punish and disincentivize the achievers and job creators.
As the Wikileaks scandal(s) and the latest TSA controversy illustrate, the U.S. government is doing a pretty lousy job of protecting itself and its citizens. So, why is anyone still buying the concept that going after the rich, French Revolution style, is a winning strategy for economic recovery. How is giving the government more funds to waste a help to anyone?
Both major political parties and all citizens of this country have their work cut out for them in re-engineering government at all levels in the coming years. Socialists need to take a basic economics class so they understand that it is not desirable for government to take on nanny-state responsibilities for an entire nation of adult-size Depends wearers. A healthy private enterprise sector is vital to American economic vitality and global economic vitality. Capitalists need to wake up to responsibilities far beyond short-term profits and start investing more in American-based operations and communities. That includes examining government largesse toward big business and specific industries through lobbying, healthy subsidies, and tax breaks — the system is currently unfairly stacked against small businesses where so many Americans are employed and so much innovation begins. Government needs to learn to spend less and spend wisely.
Doubling back to Marc Zuckerberg, he has announced plans to give away half his fortune to charities, part of a campaign started by Warren Buffet, who is appealing to the consciences of the uber-wealthy. That is different from the idea espoused by another high-profile millionaires group, which has come out in support of boosting the tax rates of the very rich. Nothing is stopping these extraordinarily well-off folks from contributing more of their fair share of taxes directly to the US Treasury now. Unless it is the nagging doubt that such a generous act would be akin to flushing those funds down the sewer line.
The rest of us need to start dreaming big again. It would be great to be so successful in business that we can become like Scrooge McDuck, dancing hip-high in currency in our own private vaults, knowing we will still be comfortable and well-provided for after donating half of everything to help others.