Where are We Headed?

If you are involved in your town, state or federal government, take a few minutes to tell us what you are doing. Send your articles to sec@secounselors.com.

An interesting article in the April 14 issue of The Economist was entitled “The Question of Extractive Elites.” The article referred to a new book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Darin Acemoglu and Hanes Robinson, two economists that write quite a bit about what is going on in the USA and the world right now.

The major premise of this book is that we can either be “extractive” or “inclusive” in the way we run our nations and economies. Being extractive means that we take from the many for the few and do not demand that property rights are secure. Being inclusive distributes power more widely, establishes law and order, and has secure property rights and free-market systems.

In the S.E.C., we do not take political sides; as a group we are not Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians. But we are business people and subject to the way our governments, from the federal level all the way down to the local town councils, run the environment in which we must operate.

Two years ago, I was forced to work in a town that I have sworn never to develop in. But my church is located in this town and I was asked to head our new building committee. So I sucked it up and agreed to be the main layperson in charge of getting the building approved and constructed. To say it was painful is being kind. The process took twice as long as it would have taken in any of the other cities I work in, some of which are much larger and which also have much higher per capita income levels and thus tighter development ordinances. Add to that, the town basically extorted (there is no other way to describe it) over $30,000 from my church for a drainage study that had nothing to do with our project. But we paid it instead of being delayed even longer.

My point is that we should all take notice of this kind of abuse of power and get involved in the towns in which we live and work. We need to get involved with our local Congressmen and Senators. Some of us are already. I know that Lance Warner, for instance, knows his local officials well; in fact, he does consulting work for his town. Peter West does the same thing and I am certain that many more S.E.C.s are participating. But as our country is attempting to come out of the worst recession in my lifetime, I can’t help but believe that it is time for us all to get involved instead of just hacked off and withdrawn. We are professionals and know our business. Most of our elected officials are unfamiliar with how their laws, rules and ordinances really affect our business. And perhaps it is time to tell them face-to-face what they are doing to us.

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