Most Americans are feeling downbeat about the state of the economy, and conservative donor Charles Koch thinks that he has the answer. Koch, the CEO and chairman of Koch Industries, laid out his prescription for the economy in a USA Today op-ed Wednesday. His views are largely in line with the mainstream GOP, blaming excessive government regulation, Obamacare, and government benefit programs for the lackluster economy. But Koch also blasts the kind of corporate welfare that some Republicans continue to defend.
First, we need to encourage principled entrepreneurship. Companies should earn profits by creating value for customers and acting with integrity, the opposite of today's rampant cronyism. Too many businesses focus on getting subsidies and mandates from government rather than creating value for customers. According to George Mason University's Mercatus Center, such favors cost us more than $11,000 per person in lost GDP every year, a $3.6 trillion economic hit.
Compounding the problem are destructive regulations affecting whether and how business invests and employees work. Federal rules cost America an estimated $1.86 trillion per year, calculated the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Second, we should eliminate the artificial cost of hiring. Government policies such as Obamacare have given businesses a powerful incentive to hire two part-time people to do one full-time job.
Third, we need to guide many more people into developing skills and values that will enable them to reach their potential. Everyone knows education increases a person's ability to create value. But the willingness to work, an essential for success, often has to be taught, too. When I was growing up, my father had me spend my free time working at unpleasant jobs. Most Americans understand that taking a job and sticking with it, no matter how unpleasant or low-paying, is a vital step toward the American dream.
Finally, we need greater incentives to work. Costly programs, such as paying able-bodied people not to work, are addictive disincentives. By undermining people's will to work, our government has created a culture of dependency and hopelessness.
I agree with Dr. Martin Luther King. There are no dead-end jobs. Every job deserves our best. "If a man is called to be a street sweeper," King said, "he should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'"