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Needling Politicians Back, the Power of the Pen

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Are you frustrated with the American government? If so, then you are not alone. According to Gallup's annual governance survey, you have more company than usual. "A record-high 81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed," said the poll, which was released Monday.

This dissatisfaction is apparent in both parties, but more pronounced for Republicans, with Gallup noting "majorities of Democrats (65 percent) and Republicans (92 percent) are dissatisfied with the nation's governance." The difference between the two parties' level of discontent might be explained by the fact that Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate, while Republicans control only the House of Representatives.

It's not just that we are disgruntled with our government -- we also have very little confidence in our government's ability to get its work done. According to Gallup, "57 percent have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems."

The poll sampled 1,017 adults, age 18 and older, living in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and has a 95 percent confidence level plus or minus 4 percent.

Little confidence and much dissatisfaction do not create the political environment that will lead to job creation. Just this week, a CEO one of America's most-loved companies expressed his frustration with the United States government.

"In the West, we're forgetting what really worked 20 years ago," Muhtar Kent, the chief executive officer of Coca-Cola, told the Financial Times in an article published Monday. "In China and other markets around the world, you see the kind of attention to detail about how business works and how business creates employment."

American politicians of both major parties need to be aware that they are facing off before a domestic audience confronting challenges that extend beyond our borders. In the global economy, the U.S. business environment has to compete with the business environments in other countries in order to attract international corporations. According to Kent, the United States is at a disadvantage due to its tax code.

"If you talk about an American company doing business in the world today with its Chinese, Russian, European or Japanese counterparts, of course we're disadvantaged. A Chinese or Swiss company can do whatever its wants with those funds (earned overseas)," noted Kent. "When we want to bring them back, we are faced with a very large tax burden."

It's not often that you hear about the United States being disadvantaged compared with other countries. But think about it, if a company has to decide where to invest, the rate of tax that will have to be paid to the government makes a big difference. If a company can keep more of what it earns in another country, the other country will be more attractive from a business perspective.

If we want the United States to compete in the world market, we have to have a tax system that is competitive with other countries. Additionally, our government needs to be receptive to business instead of standing in its way, making it harder for business to operate.

In Kent's view, our tax system is dragging down the economy. "I believe the U.S. owes itself to create a 21st century tax policy for individuals as well as businesses," he said. While businesses are constantly reinventing themselves, their products and their marketing to appeal to customers, the government seems to run on rules and regulations created for a different era.

Kent goes even further, suggesting that politicians need more of an incentive to make the changes that he believes are required to make the U.S. economy robust again. "There's too much comfort," he said. "We need more needles to stick in politicians."

With 81 percent of the American people disgruntled with our government, there are probably plenty of Americans who have had the urge to stick a needle in a government official. Instead of using a straight pin, it might be more effective to use a writing pen. Officials are as interested in getting re-elected as businesses are in selling their products. So, if you are one of the 81 percent of Americans dissatisfied with our government officials, then let them know -- stick them with a pen.

Let them know that we need a 21st century government that is responsive to the people and helpful to business, and a 21st century tax policy that incentivizes activity and investment.

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