The Economist magazine recently carried IMD's annual World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY). The findings are hardly surprising.
These rankings survey more than 4,200 international executives and try to measure how nations manage their economic and human resources to increase prosperity. Of the 59 ranked economies, the three top-ranked countries are Hong Kong, the U.S. and Switzerland.
Given our recent tribulations, I am overjoyed that the U.S. continues to offer a safe and productive haven for international commerce. Access to financing. Strong research and development. An effective, if overzealous, legal environment. A skilled workforce. Reliable infrastructure.
Yet, don't mistake the rating for perfection. Also recognized in the survey were some of the nation's weaknesses. Which were also infuriating. Because this prestigious group of international go-getters reported that the U.S. lacks "competency of government and a competitive tax regime."
Not that you need be surprised. Anyone who pays any attention knows that our government is filled with nincompoops at every level. Attorneys who have never been in business. Students, activists and organizers who, lacking any business or executive experience whatsoever, jumped into politics. Hell, into the Oval Office.
Of course, what is more depressing is the fact that they were able to rope-a-dope enough constituents to actually win office. Or, were they running against equally inadequate nitwits, leaving not the better choice but the lesser of two evils? Depressing, either way.
All the more so, considering that the current confederacy of dunces wishes to raise taxes at year end. Moreover, they would raise the corporate tax rate. Even though a survey of the world's top business leaders tells them that the current tax regime in insufficiently competitive.
Are these people really that dense, unaware or self serving?
America has always had the intellectual capacity and resourcefulness to analyze our problems, determine proper solutions and effectively implement them. So what's wrong with today's crop?
Has it something to do with 46% of the nation's GDP coming from the public sector (government)? Has it something to do with the idea that nearly half of our households receive some form of benefit check each month? Is this government just calculating enough to rob Peter, and then pay Paul in order to assure the long-term vote of Paul and his family?
The Economist's cover story lauded the U.S. economy as the "Comeback Kid." Led by its inventive private sector, the economy is remaking itself, explained the piece.
And yet. At every turn we have politicians looking to raise taxes, to further obscure an already opaque business landscape, and do whatever they can to centralize control of all things. Well, at least of commerce, healthcare, education and taxes.
But, what the hell. The Feds have done a lovely job. Post office. School systems. Its own budget. Why not give them the rest.
Or, why not hold these guys accountable? You can't balance your budget and keep it there? Then you can't run for reelection.
And just to point out that I'm equal opportunity in this regard, let's slap some accountability atop the crooked bankers that nearly wrecked our economy in 2008. How about holding the board of directors for every leveraged bank personally accountable for every deposit?
First the bankers and brokers do their best to trash the system, and then alleged crooks like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank write and sponsor the bill to clean the mess up. That's akin to making Charles Manson the warden.
Seriously. We've had a pretty good thing going here for much of the last 236 years. Now, we got 27 states saying that you are not guaranteed a job unless you are a dues-paying union member. Now, this was declared unconstitutional. Yet, the Justice Department (and AG Eric Holder who was recently held in contempt of Congress) refuses to do a thing about it.
Further, these same unions are fighting for "card check," which forces employees voting on whether to unionize or not to sign a card, enabling the labor leaders to see how individuals voted. Not that unions have ever used fear and intimidation to achieve their ends (what?!?), but forcing employees to participate in elections not involving a private ballot seems very un-American. Of course, these days, so do unions.
The rational minded folks of Wisconsin thought as much. They recently struck down union attempts to oust Governor Scott Walker. Governor Walker had made the mistake of standing up to the unions. Organized labor rallied against him. Yet, many of their own agreed with Walker.
I can't help but think that a traditionally liberal state like Wisconsin couldn't be a litmus test for the trajectory of the nation's state of mind.
Anyways. Wake up America. According to The Economist, we've got a pretty good thing going. I'd hate to see it blown by a bunch of inexperienced power mongers who don't have the slightest clue as to the fundamental tenets of economics. Demand. Supply. Scarcity.
Yet, that's another great thing about America. Even morons have a voice.