I love the old Jewish saying:  Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime

Doesn’t the current debate between the left and the right really come down to that basic principle?  Half the country wants a fish given to them…every day.  Yes, one can survive that way.  However… the other half believes that by teaching us all to fish,  we survive and thriveSurvived is a good thing when you’re rescued from a burning building.  Survived isn’t such a good thing if you come in dead last at the Olympics.  Of course, some will say just making it to the Olympics is success.  For the Olympics, yes.  But in life, we need to do more than survive. 

Joe Taylor, the CEO of Panasonic North America was recently interviewed by Piers Morgan.  His comments so  resonated with me that I had to capture his words.  When asked about his thoughts regarding businesses sending our American jobs overseas, Taylor said the following:

“I would tell you that in the 80s through the early 90s, we had 24 manufacturing sites in North America and we’ve reduced that by 80 percent today because of competitive pressures around the world.  And what brings competitive pressures?  Consumers and customers and clients …because they want what they want, when they want it, at the price they want it.  And the US has become a difficult place to do manufacturing. 

Taylor went on to talk about the U.S. decline in “foreign and direct investment” over the years, noting “ten years ago, the United States attracted 40 percent of all foreign, direct investments, globally.  Last year, 17 percent.  It means the United States has become a less attractive place for companies around the world to move their manufacturing.”  

Piers followed up:  “What should they [US} do about that?”  

Taylor’s answer“They ought to understand, business is not the enemy….  Politics and government are not the answer to our cities woes.  I believe the answer lies in jobs, and who provides jobs but large, medium and small businesses  – the US now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  Something is wrong.” 

When Piers asked Taylor if he would bring those jobs back to the US, Taylor answered, “If it was more attractive to bring jobs back into the US we’d consider it, but the US has a long way to go in attracting those jobs back to the US.  We cannot have a policy change every four years.  [Business needs] consistent government policies that businesses have confidence will extend out over the period of time , at least as long as the investment will last.” 

That’s pretty clear to me.  If businesses and jobs drive the economy, we cannot drive those businesses away with punitive regulations implemented on a whim, and inhospitable tax rates that change with political winds.  Machiavellian as it sounds, there is a movement afoot to make our country far more socialist than imaginable.  They hope the majority won’t notice until it’s too late.  Rome burns while Nero fiddles.   

Is there any thinking person alive today who isn’t worried/concerned/confused about the future of our country?  The liberals blindly hope that their agenda will get four more years to irreversibly change the country.  The conservatives are gnashing their teeth that they won’t be able to persuade enough voters to see the light and reverse course in November. 

Let me paraphrase Rob Lowe‘s  (Yes, that wild liberal Hollywood Hunk)  excellent explanation of the difference between the liberals and conservatives:   like left brain/right brain, liberalism is built on empathy, while conservatism  is based on logic.  Makes absolute, perfect sense to me.  A whole, healthy society needs both characteristics.   In Tai Chi, we say Namaste.  I respect you and you respect me.  We’ve become so polarized that we’ve stopped listening, or respecting, or realizing the NECESSITY OF BOTH SIDES!

So how did the country become so polarized?  One, possibly two generations of our society have drifted through our union-driven, liberal / socialist educational  system, learning nothing about basic economic facts – how governments do or don’t work.  Greece and Spain can give us chapter and verse on that.  Liberals want us all around the commune campfire (or the collective) singing Kumbaya.  Empty calories – feels good at the moment, but does nothing to improve the dire economic news we continue to face.  It will take logic and pragmatism to stabilize the economy.  Liberals:  Make our lives beautiful.  Conservatives:  Make our lives stable.  We have to have one to enjoy the other.    

You hear so much about the founding principles of our country.  Does anyone stop to define those things?  One of our founding principles is that freedom and equal opportunity, competition and exceptionalism make for a better, prosperous country, which in turn makes us better people.  No head start by accident of birth or skin color.  That is exactly why we fought the Revolutionary War.  

We prosper by trying, studying, working harder than the next person.  The more prosperity, the more we are able to care for those who are truly less fortunate – not those who are hopelessly addicted to government largess.  I don’t view those folks as unfortunate, I view them as content to let others do the heavy lifting.    Think about what welfare did to a huge segment of our population?   It kept them dependent.  

As Taylor explained so succinctly, the businesses that provides your job and pays local tax, state tax, federal tax, payroll tax, corporate tax, sales tax, donates to charity, etc., aren’t going to do so if we make it impossible for the business to THRIVE.  Business is not the enemy, it’s the engine that drives the economy that has provided us with the greatest prosperity in the history of the world.

We have two choices.  One:  we can give all our money, our goods and services, our crops, etc., to the government.  We can live in state run housing; be taught by government controlled educational systems – that tell us ONLY what they want us to know –  and the government will decide what we need and when we need it.  We will have absolutely nothing to do but wait, with our brother and sister lemmings, by the trough at feeding time.  There will be no individual freedoms, no thrill of achievement, no pride of success.   Ummmm, sounds like 1950s Soviet Union to me.  How did that turn out? 

Two:  we can find our way back to the middle of the road and get a grip on understanding how economics and opportunity, and work and prosperity, conscience and empathy actually work together to build a sustainable economy that supports us all and gives us independence, strength, and security.  What we do not value, we eventually lose.  Democracy is messy.  It’s work. I think it’s worth it.   A rising tide raises all boats.