You’ve no doubt hear people, probably free-market conservatives and libertarians, talk about getting government out of the way so that business can flourish. Here’s a graphical representation of what we mean:
The scores were given based on surveys completed in October by almost 10,000 alumni of Harvard Business School. While HBS is not exactly renowned as a bastion of right-wingers, note that every single thing considered a weakness — anything in the two left-hand boxes — is solely or largely the purview of government. And every one of those factors is considered by these respondents to be getting worse, not better.
Note also that the factors on which the U.S. is least competitive are, in order (as described more fully on page 13 of the above-linked PDF):
1. Complexity of the national tax code
2. Effectiveness of the political system: ability of the government to pass effective laws
3. K-12 education system: universal access to high-quality education; curricula that prepare students for productive work
4. Macroeconomic policy: soundness of government budgetary, interest rate and monetary policies
5. Efficiency of legal framework: modest legal costs; swift adjudication
6. Regulation: Effective and predictable regulations without unnecessary burden on firms
This reads like the basis for the to-do list of every conservative I know: Simplify the tax code. Make government more effective by forcing it to do less. End the monopoly on education by entrenched bureaucratic interests. Balance the budget, in large part by reforming the entitlements that drive most of the spending growth, and restore sound money. Reform the tort system. Cut red tape and end the ceaseless “do something” mentality of government do-gooders.
And from the left? Raise taxes by targeting unfavored groups (i.e., making the tax code more complex). Grow government beyond what it reasonably can be expected to do well. “Fix” education not by changing the system but by pouring more money into it. Avoid substantive entitlement reform, increase spending faster than revenues, and keep monetary policy loose. Put the trial bar’s interests above those of job creators. Increase regulation always, at all costs.
Now, which vision do you think it more likely to convince business decision-makers that this country and its people are a good investment?
(H/t: James Pethokoukis)
– By Kyle Wingfield