Monday, July 18, 2011

A consumer-friendly country

After over a month off, here's a new post in the world of politics. A lot has happened, and some of it is important. Primarily, there is the ongoing battle over the debt ceiling, which has reached such a state of insanity that it causes me a headache just thinking of trying to sum the whole thing up in a post. I'll leave analysis of that topic to the media giants of the world, if they'd only stop hacking people's phones, then letting their sister companies cover for them.

Anyway, on to what I really want to talk about...

I've been thinking a lot, mostly because of the debt ceiling debate and the ideologies currently engaged in it, about how our country attracts business and investment. It seems to me that we should be focusing a lot more attention on getting rid of our debt. After all, anyone who has owed money to a lender knows that it can take a great emotional and fiscal toll.

Republicans always talk about making America more "business friendly." This is code for "deregulation of Wall St and every major industry we have." Businesses like this idea, of course, because it means cheaper and more efficient practices. Being "business friendly" also tends to mean "cutting taxes on big business" as a way of stimulating growth.

Here's the problem, though. Simply having more wealth does not, as we have seen, guarantee that businesses will grow and create jobs. In fact, it entices businesses to maintain smaller workforces in order to decrease overhead costs. This is one of the main reasons we haven't seen major job increases in recent months. Businesses are making do with less, and becoming wealthier for it.

Therefore, I propose that we reinvent America as being "consumer friendly" rather than "business friendly." The fundamental difference, of course, is that tax incentives, regulations, and investment safeguards are used to strengthen the power of the consumer rather than the business. Here's how it would work. First, there would be common-sense regulations that control the safety of goods and services provided, the quality of said goods and services, and the financial practices of Wall St.  Second, taxes would be reduced for lower to middle class individuals rather than the wealthy and big business. Second, tax loopholes enjoyed by corporations would be closed. The added revenue from big business would more than make up for what is lost by scraping pennies from the pockets of the poor.

What this would accomplish, in my opinion, is an environment where businesses must rely on consumers to turn profit. Consumers would have more money with which to purchase products (stimulation of the economy), which would lead to greater revenue for business. The difference here is that, instead of simply giving away cash to companies, those companies will be forced to hire more workers and expand their opperations to meet the demand of the consumers newly liberated from their debts. This is a sure-fire way to create jobs that does not rely on conservative economic schemes.  This means that the economy will be in a state of perpetual upward motion, but at a slow and steady pace rather than a sudden fast boom.

This slow, steady increase is the perfect indicator for businesses and investors to approach the United States, since it raises confidence to see a long-term gain in market trends. A stock market that moves chaotically up and down without warning is good for short-term investment, get-rich-quick schemes, and those who want to bet it all. It's not a good choice for long-term growth and will result in a lot of people losing everything while a few gain a lot. With gradual growth, fast returns are small, but long-term investment helps consumers and businesses earn profits safely, making them more likely to invest in the first place.

By getting the economy more in line with the interests of consumers rather than businesses, everyone wins. It would not be hard to pass the required legislation, if only business lobbies were factored out of the equation. As long as groups like the Chamber of Commerce operate in Washington and politicians receive funds from them, such changes will never be realized.