In the face of an economy that has failed to show the key signs of improvement everyone has prayed for, including the most recent jobs report, political thinkers everywhere are scrambling in polarizing speculation. Should the government attempt a real effort to reduce unemployment, specifically President Obama’s Jobs plan? Or has the government spent enough and already outdone itself? If that’s the case, would the usual call to cut taxes and deregulate be the answer?
Instead of relying on the fabled theories of Milton Friedman, or even placing our trust in Keynesian policies that lifted us from the Great Depression, I advocate a different policy altogether: democracy.
By participating in the democratic process, the collective American voice in essence is telling the American government how to best allocate taxpayer money. In order to best serve the people doling out hiring forms, why don’t we ask them what they want? Allowing the people to decide the most effective fiscal policy through their voice is most logical to create jobs; by voting the people are expressing they do want certain goods and services that serve their best interests. If 100% hands-off government was what the people most urgently desired, they would have given their vote to a candidate who holds such a stance.
But this has never happened. Instead, over time, Americans have given permission to government to invest in education, infrastructure, better healthcare systems, and law enforcement to protect private property rights; principles that require taxes and therefore government intervention.
Continually, business owners have conceded, “Hey, I am willing to pay some taxes so that my private property rights can be protected.” Doing so is the best interest of business owners, and thus the best way to improve output. Furthermore, the tired strategy of cutting taxes is not always the most effective maneuver to create jobs.
It is no secret, however, the polarizing forces in government have brought us to a standstill on all pivotal fronts. The endless debacle between the GOP-dominated House and the Democratic majority senate and President, have left mixed signals as to what the people truly want from their government.
Again: What gives? Besides the global recession, a central factor to the U.S. economy’s symptoms is the fact that democracy no longer works. There have been interruptions between the communication of the people and their elected leaders; the people’s votes have been misallocated as evidenced by the horrendous partisanship and feeble progress on prevalent issues. To ice the cake, Congress’ disapproval rating has reached a cool 79%.
Why are the people we choose so laughable? Why is America failing at the very principle of democracy we fight so hard to maintain? Look no farther than Citizens United,the Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited campaign financing. No longer are elections driven by merit, or leadership intangibles, but who can generate more cash and how well the candidate is marketed. It's eerie how simplistic most campaign strategies are becoming: it's all about the money.
If laissez-faire economics served the people best, it would already have happened. But until our leaders stop serving the interests of their campaign donors and start representing their constituents, the economy will continue to struggle; the sacred line of communication between the people and their elected officials has been severed. Unless Capitol Hill replaces corporate interests with the people’s interests, look to see the bitter partisanship that has stifled the betterment of our country. It is not small government that drives the economy, it is government that acts to serve its voters honestly.