Competition is the essence of free market capitalism and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s how business works. It’s how America became the most prosperous nation on Earth. It’s fundamental to our way of life. And yet, that principle seems to elude many of us, including those who make our laws and teach our children.
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The question is, how can that be? How can they not get it?!
At last week’s GOP debate, when Donald Trump said that the cornerstone of his healthcare plan is to remove regulatory restrictions and let insurance companies compete across state lines, he was mocked by Senator Marco Rubio, and the University of Houston audience ate it up.
“There’s going to be competition,” Trump said. “There is going to be competition among all of the states and the insurance companies. They’re going to have many, many different plans.”
When the moderator asked if there was anything else he’d like to add, Trump said, “No, there’s nothing to add. What’s to add?” Then he shrugged and again, repeated, “What is to add?” as if to say, “What, you don’t get it? How could you not get it?”
The thing is, he was absolutely right. And nobody else seemed to get it. Nobody on or off stage that night seemed to get it. The media, which universally panned Trump’s debate performance and characterized that exchange as the low-point, didn’t get it.
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How can they not get it?
Make no mistake. This is not about Trump versus Rubio. It isn’t about picking sides, nor is it an endorsement of any campaign over another. This isn’t even about the 2016 election. This is about a national epidemic – an unprecedented case of mass amnesia where millions of people seem to have completely forgotten how we all got here.
If you want to see a generation of spiraling healthcare costs magically reined in and a culture of oppressive opaqueness replaced by crystal clear transparency, remove the regulations and restrictions and let insurance companies and healthcare providers compete on their merits.
And that’s just for starters. If we simply analyzed and modified every piece of legislation, regulation, tax and government agency to minimize its impact on competition, can you imagine how it would supercharge our economy?
If that’s too complicated, let’s ask a simpler question. What did everyone think those candidates were doing up on stage, having a nice friendly chat? They were competing. That’s how we determine the best candidate. We put them up there, ask them questions and let them have at it.
It’s more or less the same when candidates compete for any job in the workplace. And of course, it’s the same in business. It’s true of any product in any industry across any and all geographic lines. Competition works to bring the best to the fore. And that has always worked for us. At least it used to.
Used to be that, if you gave Americans a chance to compete on merit, all things being equal, we would rise to the occasion and come out on top. But I’m not so sure that’s still true today. You see, competitive spirit is not in our DNA. We’re not born with the drive to win. It’s learned behavior. It has to be taught. And therein lies the rub.
Our schools are systematically breeding competitive spirit out of our culture. Everyone gets an “A” grade. Everyone gets an award. Everyone gets a trophy. As we de-emphasize competitive spirit and individual achievement in our schools by leveling the playing field, we’re sapping the motivation to compete and incentive to win out of our future leaders.
No wonder why so many Millennials are drawn to a socialist like Bernie Sanders. If they were never taught the relationship between competition, responsibility, achievement and economic growth, how can we expect them to understand free market capitalism? They simply don’t get it.
The unraveling of America’s competitive spirit is not just happening in our schools. The more entitlements and safety nets we have, the bigger government grows, the more bureaucracy we must overcome to get anything done, the more regulation, legislation and taxation that strangles competition, the less prosperous we all are, and around we go in a death spiral.
Meanwhile, nothing delivers a wakeup call and brings out the best in us like competition.
It took a mortal threat from Japan Inc. to light a fire under our semiconductor and auto industries – to take quality and reliability seriously and fight back. Through most of the 80s and into the 90s, the top global chip giants were all from Japan, but that’s no longer the case. Today, U.S. companies again lead the industry.
And as Asian companies began to dominate in consumer electronics and hardware, innovators like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon led the way in mobile, Internet search, cloud computing, social media and ecommerce. Today, they’re among the most valuable and powerful brands on Earth.
Make no mistake. Our way of life is not just about personal freedom, but also about competitive freedom. That’s why it’s called free market capitalism.
The solution to our healthcare and economic woes is the same. It’s always been the same. Instead of burying our businesses and corporations in an ever-growing mountain of legislation, regulation and taxation that strangles our competitive spirit, allow them to compete freely. Fix that and we’re 95% of the way there.
That’s all Trump was trying to say. That’s all he needed to say. There is nothing more to add. How can we not get it?