In America, we’ve been blessed with unprecedented prosperity for over 200 years. Credit it to the blessings of God and a potent mixture of innovative minds, self-reliant souls and plentiful natural resources.
Such prosperity, however, can be deceiving: It lulls people into thinking that prosperity is a national birthright. But it isn’t—never was and never will be.
Rather, as I write in my book Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today, American prosperity is something that every generation must work to perpetuate for themselves and their posterity. Government’s responsibility, meanwhile, is to provide effective yet minimal regulation that promotes prosperity for the whole economy.
In 2006, the U.S. government is not living up to its end of the bargain.
In fact, government’s proclivity for overzealous intervention and regulation is saddling our nation’s economy with unnecessary burdens—like a sprinter wearing shoulder pads.
Consider Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate governance law whisked through Congress in response to the Enron scandal. The law was supposed to protect American investors; instead, it is costing them and us, the stockholders, billions of dollars. For example, the law requires businesses to archive all e-mail (prime evidence for prosecutors), a job that will cost the average large American company $5.1 million a year—every dime of which will be passed on to shareholders and customers.
Such a law leaves timid, unreasonably risk averse companies in its wake. That’s not a good thing.
Behind every great business coup is a huge risk boldly taken. When government makes such risk taking cost prohibitive, prosperity suffocates.
Conversely, when an economy is powered by healthy risk taking, volatile yet productive, the resulting competition throws off myriad benefits, ranging from new technologies to higher living standards.
In an increasingly globalized economy, it is imperative for American businesses and individuals to have the freedom to innovate and take risks. Otherwise, as the rest of the world speeds toward economic freedom, we will be drifting into the realm of lackluster, also-ran economies, and by extension, lackluster and also ran countries.
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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