The United States is losing its competitiveness in the world economy. Sadly, instead of leading the innovation charge in the twenty-first century, we are becoming victims of policies that restrict our entrepreneurial roots.
As Ben Casselman of The Wall Street Journal recently wrote:
"Three long-running trends suggest the U.S. economy has turned soft on risk: Companies add jobs more slowly, even in good times. Investors put less money into new ventures. And, more broadly, Americans start fewer businesses and are less inclined to change jobs or move for new opportunities."
These trends have been an issue in America for a while, but they're exacerbated by recent irresponsible policies. Take the case of the Affordable Care Act. America's businesses have had enough of a challenge trying to claw their way back from the recession, but Obamacare imposes rules that will negatively impact the workforce.
For instance, there is the quick-hit $63 per-person fee that will get passed down to employees in order to raise the $25 billion the administration expects. This might not sound like a lot, but when local businesses have to cover this fee for each person, that could result in lower wages or fewer people being hired.
Another part of this law is that businesses with 50 or more fulltime employees also face a $2,000 fine (per employee!) if they do not provide health insurance. In order to avoid the fine, employers have indicated they will likely move workers who are at or near full-time employment down to under 30 hours per week.
In order to counter the headwinds that struggling small businesses are facing, it is critical to eliminate bad policies like Obamacare. But that alone is not enough. More must be done to regain the long-term competitiveness that made America the shining light on top of the hill.
First, we must rid ourselves of burdensome red tape that prohibits would-be entrepreneurs from contributing to our economy. It used to be the case that somebody who simply had a great idea could flourish in business. Instead, you now have to be an expert on health, tax, and environmental policy in order to just keep the lights on. As a result, regulations that will impose a cost on the economy of $100 million or more should need approval from Congress.
Next, we should enact immigration policy that promotes an influx of immigrants under the H-1B visa program. High-skilled immigrants not only bring their talent and vigor to existing U.S. companies, but they are also more likely to start a business than native-born Americans.
Whether liberal or conservative, we all agree that government should get much more bang for its buck when it comes to deciding what to fund. Targeted investments can help kick-start innovation.
Using taxpayer dollars to find cures to specific diseases that plague us all, such as Alzheimer's or cancer, would save trillions of dollars in the long run. These savings can be used to finance a stronger education system and pay down our national debt.
America's higher-educational system needs to be geared so that prospective students can put themselves in the best position to find full-time work. Not to say that the world's philosophy majors aren't important, but prospective students would benefit from the opportunity to receive assistance to enroll in STEM studies where more opportunities for future employment arise. Furthermore, cost transparency in the university system is the fair way to let families determine the right fit for their children's education.
America is at its best when the workforce "churns" often. Businesses start up or pivot to another product, entrepreneurs take risks to find the next best thing, and people use the most of their skills. The long-term ailments endemic to risk aversion won't disappear overnight, but steps can be undertaken immediately to begin reversing course. Then, hopefully soon, Americans will start to be more optimistic about the future.