When President Kennedy said a rising tide lifts all boats, he was referring to the fact that developing natural resources in an environmentally sound way and restoring our manufacturing productivity was beneficial to all. Pursuing policies of full employment would lead to more wealth for all.
Today, his quote is used to back the idea that if we pursue policies aimed at Wall Street, Main Street will benefit. Surely, policies aimed at undermining Wall Street will undermine Main Street. You cannot long enrich the poor by attempting to impoverish the rich. We need investment and opportunities for all us to benefit from capital formation. Still, the idea that you can transfer wealth from the worker to the investor and benefit the worker is equally fool-hearty. This idea has resulted in stagnant wages, a declining manufacturing base, and declining median household income. Economic growth is anemic. The East is rising, the West is stuck in a morass. The global top 1% are prospering. In the U. S., 95% of income gain has gone to 1% of the population during the Obama years. It appears some of the boats ran aground and are yet to recover.
What is the solution? Do we need a big government picking winners and losers? Do we need our dreams of success being taken away by regulators and replaced with mediocrity? Do we exchange our freedom to achieve for the monotony of sameness? I say no.
We need a strategy of economic inclusion. We need to insure that our policies are business friendly, family friendly, and benefit the general welfare (common interest) while not attacking the individual welfare (special interests). Government belongs to all of the people. Its policies should be sensible and generally benefit all of the people not just those who give political donations or have armies of workers.
We should tear down barriers which have redlined communities. We need to affirmatively bring capital formation to those communities with 21st century enterprise zones. We should insure the family is considered in every policy. We should follow the intent of our founders for a limited government. We should protect property including intellectual property with reasonable opportunity to profit. Our tax system should be simple, fair, family friendly, labor friendly, investment friendly, and proportional. Our contracts should be accessible to small and medium size businesses including minority run businesses. Unlike Dodd-Frank, we should encourage Angel investors and not regulate minorities out of non-public IPO’s. We need to reduce the felony rage and not make everything a crime. We need to keep our people safe. We need to build a modern infrastructure for energy, transportation, and water/sewer. We need to develop our natural resources in a sensible manner. We need to demolish barriers to reentry into the work place. Things like food stamps, earned income credit, vocational rehabilitation, veteran credits, Pell grants, and work force development make sense because they subsidize work. We need more subsidy of work and less subsidy of the lack of work.
We have to tackle problems of substance abuse. We need to partner with non-profits and the faith community not only to expand treatment but prevention. We need to teach relationship skills and so people can repair the family.
We need policies which will set an environment where everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, or religion can prosper. Government should not pit one group against another. Whether you are a homeless person or a business person, an immigrant or a 10 generation American, in a wheel chair or a NASCAR driver.