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Ben Carson: Heeding the warning signs of decline

What do the following five things have in common? The highest corporate-tax rate in the world; high personal and small-business taxes; the Affordable Care Act; an oppressive regulatory atmosphere with intimidation rather than help from the government; and overly aggressive environmental-protection policies.

These five things — along with the devaluing of the U.S. dollar by the constant printing of money backed up by nothing but reputation — are largely responsible for an extremely sluggish economy that has little hope of improvement without a drastic change in economic philosophy.

I was recently talking to a couple of very well-known entrepreneurs who had been extremely successful in creating vibrant businesses in the past.

Both said they would not even consider starting a new business in the current economic environment. I also asked some people who had started companies that are household names whether they think they could have succeeded in today’s environment. Their answer was a resounding no.

This economic environment is toxic for growth. Americans must face the reality that our massive federal debt will eventually drown our children if we don’t have the courage to act now and stop kicking the can down the road.

It may feel good to some to print money at will and borrow as long as someone will lend us money, but what does this say about our compassion for those who will follow us?

Having grown up in Detroit, I am particularly sad to see what has happened to a once-vibrant city that was the wealthiest in the nation. Many blame unions for strangling the goose that laid the golden egg, but unions serve their members and seldom have a big-picture perspective that takes into account the well-being of the larger society.

I believe a great deal of the fault resides with the upper management of the Big Three automobile companies, who tolerated the excesses of the unions. They must have been fully aware that in due time, the consequences of such actions would be devastating not only to the automobile companies, but to the city, the state and the nation.

Of course, by that time, they would have long ago escaped with their golden parachutes. Detroit is but a harbinger of the fate that will befall our beloved nation if we don’t heed the warnings so vividly placed before us.

Moreover, this toxic business environment is the perfect cultural medium for the growth of victimhood and the entitlement mentality. Political correctness dictates that one should never say such a thing for fear of being labeled heartless.

I not only reject outright such foolishness, but rather I feel very strongly that these measures that suppress economic development also suppress the hopes and dreams of many Americans.

I fear that the secular progressives have been winning lately by succeeding in convincing large portions of the population that they should be more concerned about the benefits they can collect than about the opportunities they lose when their God-given talents for achievement are replaced with dependence on government.

We need to understand the connection between dynamic economic growth and the general welfare of the people. For anyone who does not understand: Robust economic growth creates plenty of jobs and opportunities for everyone and decreases the need for government dependency.

Some on the side of big government will say, “There you go again talking about trickle-down economic theory,” as they attempt to denigrate the empirical data supporting the validity of supply-side economics. I don’t think it’s necessary to attach fancy nomenclature to a theory of common sense.

I am extremely encouraged by the resurgence of rationality I am seeing all around our country. I see people who understand that by adopting a reasonable corporate-tax rate, we can reverse the flow of economic activity out of our country.

By adopting reasonable individual and small-business tax rates, we can again encourage hard work and entrepreneurship. By taking this opportunity to look at some alternative methods of providing truly affordable health care to everyone in our nation and working together, we can all win. By having a government that minds its own constitutional business and stays out of ours, we will see a revival of the can-do attitude with explosive entrepreneurial successes.

By having an Environmental Protection Agency that works with our technological institutions, we can safely exploit the largest reserves of natural energy in the world and stop supporting those nations that desire our destruction.

We can do all this and more if we use our talents in a synergistic manner and forget about who gets the credit. Most importantly, we must remember that we have a responsibility to those who will follow us. Please, let us not fail them.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.

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Posted: November 12, 2013 Tuesday 10:00 PM