Over at the Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods founder John Mackey has a terrific op/ed outlining what needs to be done to jumpstart the flagging American economy. Hint: The government doesn't need to "stimulate" it. In his op/ed titled, "To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom," Mackey writes:
America became the wealthiest country because for most of our history we have followed the basic principles of economic freedom: property rights, freedom to trade internationally, minimal governmental regulation of business, sound money, relatively low taxes, the rule of law, entrepreneurship, freedom to fail, and voluntary exchange.
The success of economic freedom in increasing human prosperity, extending our life spans and improving the quality of our lives in countless ways is the most extraordinary global story of the past 200 years. Gross domestic product per capita has increased by a factor of 1,000% across the world and almost 2,000% in the U.S. during these last two centuries. In 1800, 85% of everyone alive lived on less than $1 per day (in 2000 dollars). Today only 17% do. If current long-term trend lines of economic growth continue, we will see abject poverty almost completely eradicated in the 21st century. Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, investors and communities.
So why is our economy barely growing and unemployment stuck at over 9%? I believe the answer is very simple: Economic freedom is declining in the U.S.
So what to do?
Cut defense, reform and privatize aspects of federal entitlement programs, close tax loopholes and adopt a top tax rate of 15 to 20 percent, cut the effective (state and fed combined) corporate tax rate from 39.2 percent (the highest in the world) to 26 percent, and slash regulations (current annual cost $1.75 trillion) enabling entrepreneurship to flourish in moribund sectors like health care, energy and education.
The whole op/ed is well worth reading (and depressing because the country is so not going in that direction.)
Go here for an excellent Reason interview with Mackey on Whole Foods Health Care. And see below Mackey's long reason.tv interview on "Conscious Capitalism."
Disclosure: Mackey has contributed in the past to the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit organization that publishes this magazine. Several years ago he bought me dinner after touring me through the Austin downtown Whole Foods. It was delicious.