by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Here’s a thought. Politicians and voters should stop trying to figure out where the U.S. as a whole plays in the global economy. They should think about where their cities, states and regions play. Houston isn’t the U.S. economy, any more than Atlanta, Pittsburgh or Palo Alto is. Houston is the Houston economy, which trades with the rest of the U.S. and the world. The same goes for every city everywhere. A city’s job is to figure out where it competes relative to other cities in the state, nationally and around the globe. The job of federal government is to not get in the way.
Trump’s slogan–Make America Great Again–was brilliant, certainly better than Clinton’s mealy Stronger Together. But Trump utterly blew it on the fine points. The way to make America great again isn’t by throwing rocks at other countries that want to trade with us. Instead, you make America great by making it a magnet for talent, capital and risk-takers–in all industries. Then get out of the way. The greatness will take care of itself–city by city, region by region. Silicon Valley knows how to be great–and is allowed to be great. It’s not overregulated (mainly because it moves too fast for regulators). Detroit knows how to be great, too. But its products are tangible things, and even the dullest regulators can figure out what Detroit makes. Thus, Detroit has to negotiate regulatory and labor roadblocks every step of the way.
The federal government’s job should be to let Detroit be the best Detroit it can be and Silicon Valley the best Silicon Valley.