Gary Shapiro

Securities law allows trial lawyers to sue public companies in shareholder lawsuits with the result being the U.S. is fast becoming an undesirable place for public companies. The lawsuits cost American companies $64.4 billion over the last decade with some 35 percent of the money going to voracious trial attorneys. This foolish situation, like many other class action laws, produces no positive societal result, as the legislation was never tied to results. Similarly, laws like Sarbanes-Oxley produce little positive result and turn our CEOs into risk-adverse functionaries more focused on legal compliance than in taking risks necessary to be strong and growing world-wide competitors.

Laws barring age discrimination have made it almost impossible to move incompetent older people out of jobs, especially in some jobs like teaching. This imposes huge costs on colleges and other affected institutions and serves as a bottleneck leading to high unemployment and lack of opportunity for many youth.

The list of well-intended laws governing education, product liability, unionization, drug criminalization, copyright infringement, patent liability and so many other areas is quite long. We need to change the national dialogue so we focus on the results and costs of these laws. We can start by accepting the good intentions of those on both sides, and agreeing that all legislation should sunset if specific and measurable results are not met.

I think most Americans would agree our system is not working. Our leaders are not confronting our biggest problems. They are not factual, not strategic and they are threatening our future. Unless we can change our process, we will continue to face debt ceiling emergencies, a lack of budgeting, and bills over 2,000 pages that no one can understand all in the name of a political game that’s more about positioning and power than finding real solutions to our problems.

Our citizenship is a gift we have spoiled by our failure and our squabbles. It’s time we became our parents and work together for our children’s future.

Gary Shapiro

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing some 2,000 consumer electronics companies.