Heed­ing the warn­ing signs of de­cline

Amer­i­cans have an obli­ga­tion to save the na­tion for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Ben S. Car­son

What do the fol­low­ing five things have in com­mon? The high­est cor­po­rate-tax rate in the world; high per­sonal and small-busi­ness taxes; the Af­ford­able Care Act; an op­pres­sive reg­u­la­tory at­mos­phere with in­tim­i­da­tion rather than help from the gov­ern­ment; and overly ag­gres­sive en­vi­ron­men­talpro­tec­tion poli­cies.

Th­ese five things — along with the de­valu­ing of the U.S. dol­lar by the con­stant print­ing of money backed up by noth­ing but rep­u­ta­tion — are largely re­spon­si­ble for an ex­tremely slug­gish econ­omy that has lit­tle hope of im­prove­ment with­out a dras­tic change in eco­nomic phi­los­o­phy.

I was re­cently talk­ing to a cou­ple of very well-known en­trepreneurs who had been ex­tremely suc­cess­ful in cre­at­ing vi­brant busi­nesses in the past. Both said they would not even con­sider start­ing a new busi­ness in the cur­rent eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment. I also asked some peo­ple who had started com­pa­nies that are house­hold names whether they think they could have suc­ceeded in to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment. Their an­swer was a re­sound­ing no.

This eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment is toxic for growth. Amer­i­cans must face the re­al­ity that our mas­sive fed­eral debt will even­tu­ally drown our chil­dren if we don’t have the courage to act now and stop kick­ing the can down the road. It may feel good to some to print money at will and bor­row as long as some­one will lend us money, but what does this say about our com­pas­sion for those who will fol­low us?

Hav­ing grown up in Detroit, I am par­tic­u­larly sad to see what has hap­pened to a once-vi­brant city that was the wealth­i­est in the na­tion. Many blame unions for stran­gling the goose that laid the golden egg, but unions serve their mem­bers and sel­dom have a big-pic­ture per­spec­tive that takes into ac­count the well-be­ing of the larger so­ci­ety.

I be­lieve a great deal of the fault re­sides with the up­per man­age­ment of the Big Three au­to­mo­bile com­pa­nies, who tol­er­ated the ex­cesses of the unions. They must have been fully aware that in due time, the con­se­quences of such ac­tions would be dev­as­tat­ing not only to the au­to­mo­bile com­pa­nies, but to the city, the state and the na­tion. Of course, by that time, they would have long ago es­caped with their golden para­chutes. Detroit is but a har­bin­ger of the fate that will be­fall our beloved na­tion if we don’t heed the warn­ings so vividly placed be­fore us.

More­over, this toxic busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment is the per­fect cul­tural medium for the growth of vic­tim­hood and the en­ti­tle­ment men­tal­ity. Po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness dic­tates that one should never say such a thing for fear of be­ing la­beled heart­less. I not only re­ject out­right such fool­ish­ness, but rather I feel very strongly that th­ese mea­sures that sup­press eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment also sup­press the hopes and dreams of many Amer­i­cans. I fear that the sec­u­lar pro­gres­sives have been win­ning lately by suc­ceed­ing in con­vinc­ing large por­tions of the pop­u­la­tion that they should be more con­cerned about the ben­e­fits they can col­lect than about the op­por­tu­ni­ties they lose when their God-given tal­ents for achieve­ment are re­placed with de­pen­dence on gov­ern­ment.

We need to un­der­stand the con­nec­tion be­tween dy­namic eco­nomic growth and the gen­eral

wel­fare of the peo­ple. For any­one who does not un­der­stand: Ro­bust eco­nomic growth cre­ates plenty of jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery­one and de­creases the need for gov­ern­ment de­pen­dency. Some on the side of big gov­ern­ment will say, “There you go again talk­ing about trickle-down eco­nomic the­ory,” as they at­tempt to den­i­grate the em­pir­i­cal data sup­port­ing the va­lid­ity of sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics. I don’t think it’s nec­es­sary to at­tach fancy nomen­cla­ture to a the­ory of com­mon sense.

I am ex­tremely en­cour­aged by the resur­gence of ra­tio­nal­ity I am see­ing all around our coun­try. I see peo­ple who un­der­stand that by adopt­ing a rea­son­able cor­po­rate-tax rate, we can re­verse the flow of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity out of our coun­try. By adopt­ing rea­son­able in­di­vid­ual and small-busi­ness tax rates, we can again en­cour­age hard work and en­trepreneur­ship. By tak­ing this op­por­tu­nity to look at some al­ter­na­tive meth­ods of pro­vid­ing truly af­ford­able health care to ev­ery­one in our na­tion and work­ing to­gether, we can all win. By hav­ing a gov­ern­ment that minds its own con­sti­tu­tional busi­ness and stays out of ours, we will see a re­vival of the can-do at­ti­tude with ex­plo­sive en­tre­pre­neur­ial suc­cesses. By hav­ing an En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency that works with our tech­no­log­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions, we can safely ex­ploit the largest re­serves of nat­u­ral en­ergy in the world and stop sup­port­ing those na­tions that de­sire our de­struc­tion.

We can do all this and more if we use our tal­ents in a syn­er­gis­tic man­ner and for­get about who gets the credit. Most im­por­tantly, we must re­mem­ber that we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to those who will fol­low us. Please, let us not fail them. Ben S. Car­son is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of neu­ro­surgery at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

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