Kudos to Florida: How the state discarded DC, beat central planning, to land on top

Some states are governed well, and some are not. Compare states’ track records to each other and to the federal government, and you’ll learn lessons on old, top-down, closed, outdated ways that don’t work. Exhibit No. 1 is Washington D.C. and its top-down control structure — the very picture of broken, corrupt and obsolete operations. “Top-down” means a system imposed by megalith bureaucracy and stimulus-driven social engineering; it means somebody else, an autocrat in distant government, is deciding what’s best for you.

But what works for successful states, like Florida, is new, bottom-up, fresh, accountable solutions. Look at the natural, organic way Florida grew its economy in the past several years. In 2010, Florida had $21 billion in top-line revenue, 10 percent unemployment, an average home price of $121,000, a “negative” outlook from Standard & Poor’s rating service, and a net total of only 20,000 people who moved to the state.

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From left to right: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Adam Putnam, Governor Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater Photo: MyFlorida.com

Then, Gov. Rick Scott and the current Cabinet were elected. This year, Florida has $27 billion in revenue, 6.2 percent unemployment, an average home price of $185,000, a “stable” AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s, an increase of 620,000 private jobs, and 270,000 people moving to the state.

That doesn’t happen by chance. It happened because Florida did something different than California, Illinois and New York. The Sunshine State reduced sales and corporate taxes, reduced or eliminated hundreds of regulations, and slashed debt service by $4 billion. Legal reforms were enacted. Texas is the only state that leads Florida in new job creation. Now, we have the lowest crime rate in 42 years, and politicians on the campaign trail never talk about crime anymore.

We have come a long way. Of course, it is easy to be unaware of how far Florida has advanced economically, if you rely on the traditional mainstream media for news.

How has Florida been able to achieve such success? Because the team on the field for the past four years — the Florida Cabinet and the Florida House and Senate — has created a culture of common-sense solutions and problem-solving. At a time when only 20 percent of Americans think their children will have better opportunities than today’s generation of adults, Florida’s political leaders are warriors for government reform and for building a healthy economy the new way – from the bottom up, not the top down. It’s called the free market.

Florida’s leaders rely on an underlying tenet: They are realists about energy policy, immigration, the economy, individual rights, authentic innovation and education. They have demonstrated what can be accomplished without compromising core beliefs. They have rejected outmoded mechanisms of the industrial age and the poured cement of government programs.

And they have discarded Washington’s approach, the Keynesian recipe that has brought us the failed economic policies that have hurt American innovation and stifled true growth. At a meeting last week in Orlando, an elected official told me, “What’s the dumbest way to grow our economy? It’s got to be what Washington is doing now. Which is to take money from taxpayers and send it to far-away bureaucrats in Washington, borrow trillions more, all so they can buy votes and give money to their friends and political contributors, like Solyndra. Why are we surprised when this doesn’t work? There’s a better way. Reverse the process. Take the money away from Washington and the lords of central planning.”

Central planning is the way Barack Obama and his ilk want to operate, because the left believes in top-down artificial growth, imposed and controlled by the nanny-state in Washington. That’s why we are $17 trillion in debt. That’s the reason our health care system is eating itself alive, and why America’s retirement system is a house of cards built on phony IOUs. Well, that is not the path Florida has taken.

Kudos to our political leaders in Tallahassee for their successes the past four years, leaders who have grown Florida’s economy organically, from the bottom up. But Florida voters need to exercise caution — we are one election away from having a political culture like the one perverting Illinois or California.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
John R. Smith

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