A Simple Plan for America's Economic Revival
Spending, Taxation or National Debt
A note to our legislators and fellow citizens
By Tim Searfoss, founder and co-owner of Roll-Rite LLC & Searfoss Developments LLC
Written in cooperation with Glenn Wilson, owner of M-33 Access
As a northern Michigan entrepreneur, I’ve had
the pleasure to deal with business owners
from all over the world. I have also come to
see how America has caused its own
competitive disadvantage in the world’s
Along with many Americans, I invested a lot
of money and time in the 2010 congressional
elections. We managed to get some fresh
legislators in place with hopes of changing
our country around before it is too late. Our
new legislators are Americans just like the
rest of us, with the same hope for the future
and the same dreams for their families. They
understand they were elected to help bring our
nation’s economy to the robust state that our
citizens have every right and reason to expect.
Yet, I fear they do not know how to
Faced with lobbyists and their multi-million
dollar backers, our legislators are kept in the
dark right along with the rest of us. Attended
to by special interests with a one-sided
agenda, they feel obligated to heed the
greatest hew and loudest cry. Thus, it is all
too often easy for our leaders to develop a sort
of tunnel vision. Working there, in the halls
of congress, far removed from constituents
and no longer a part of the daily, street-level
conversation back home, it is easy for our
• 15 million people are unemployed in the
United States. America, once the arsenal for
democracy and the world’s leading
manufacturing country, has seen its economic
• Since 2001, the United States has lost
approximately 42,400 factories. About 75-
percent of those factories employed more than
500 people when they were in operation.
• According to a new study conducted by the
Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade
deficit with China continues to increase at its
current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over
half a million jobs this year alone
• Dell Inc., one of America’s largest
manufacturers of computers, has announced
plans to dramatically expand its operations in
China with an investment of over $100 billion
over the next decade.
• Dell has recently announced that it will be
closing its last large U.S. manufacturing facility
in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in November;
approximately 900 jobs will be lost.
• In 2008, 1.2 billion cell phones were sold
worldwide. Zero were manufactured in the
United States, and we are the world’s second
largest cellular phone market, with more than
153 million subscribers.
legislators to lose sight of their mission.
We have to take a different approach but before we do, consider this: There are states in this
country with more than 40 million laws on the books. Certainly many of those laws are
redundant, contradictory and irrelevant; many were probably unnecessary in the first place. It
should lead us to wonder how many laws the federal government has. It is time to review these
archaic and unneeded laws, eliminate those we no longer need and streamline our legal process.
Time is of the essence here. If we let this go it will only get harder, if not impossible, to fix.
Then, as history will tell our story, we will have been the great nation that once was.
TO FIX THIS MESS WE NEED TO DEREGULATE
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to economic growth is our self-defeating habit of addressing issues
with regulation. In passing the enforcement of these new regulations off to government
agencies, we increase their authority over every aspect of our lives, while stifling business,
reducing jobs and increasing the size of government.
This is not what we need. The solution is deregulation and smaller government. We need to rein
in agencies like the EPA, DEQ, DNR, FCC and others. These state and federal bureaucracies
have taken on lives of their own while the people who run them focus on funding, gaining power
and protection of their own job security. Unlike the private sector, their compensation is not
performance based and unlike elected officials these agency administrators cannot be removed
from office when their actions are proven to be counter-productive. They survive and continue
on forever, often shifting from political appointment to civil service positions to protect
It is up to our elected officials to put a stop to this.
ENERGY IN OUR OWN BACKYARD
Deregulation does not mean turning our backs on the environmental lessons we’ve learned over
the past decades. Through the use of new technologies, industry and conservation can and must
coexist. That is tantamount to our argument because energy is the number one place to begin our
return to economic prosperity and our nation’s return to a balanced budget.
Right now the U.S. is sitting on some of the largest unclaimed and undiscovered oil reserves in
the world. By opening our federal lands to new oil leases our treasury would gain trillions of
dollars as mineral rights that could go to pay down the national debt.
Oil-bearing formations such as the Bakken, ANWR, Green River and elsewhere offer our nation
oil independence for thousands of years, if only we use it.
Instead, we force companies such as B.P., Exxon and others to go 40 miles off-shore in search of
our nation’s energy. Why? Because overblown environmental concerns and the burden of
regulation have put a stop to America’s oil industry while vast amounts of oil lie untapped and
out of reach just beneath our feet.
Through the use of new technologies, oil that was once thought unattainable can now be
harvested. Even today, Canada uses existing methods of extraction to collect oil from the same
tar sands and oil shale that lie below Montana. While the high and sustained cost of oil makes it
easy for America’s energy industry to bring our nation’s oil to market, we buy oil from Canada as
fast as they can produce it.
If we made a concerted effort to produce our own energy, to meet our nation’s needs, the benefits
would extend through the American economy. More crude oil than ever flowing from new
American oil wells would require us to build new refineries, spawning thousands of jobs,
requiring tons of materials and spawning off-shoot industries. Orders for everything from raw
iron ore to heavy equipment, from office space to housing would skyrocket. Industries as diverse
as steel and engineering, mining and manufacturing, construction and finance would all play
Through it all would be the ever increasing call for manpower and labor as America experienced
the beginnings of a new industrial revolution.
Enough of the idle green talk – want to improve the environment? Let’s do it, starting with our
Most of our energy comes from coal, which is both plentiful and inexpensive. But aren’t coal
plants dirty? Yes, the coal-fired energy plants in use today were designed to operate for 25 years
and that time frame ran out long ago. We can and should clean this up by building new coal
plants that are 100 times cleaner that the ones they replace. To do so would require thousands of
workers and enormous amounts of American-made materials. We have hundreds of year’s worth
of coal and power plants will last only a fraction of this time. Imagine the technologies that will
be available by the time these new plants are worn out.
Using American steel to build these new plants will require lots of iron ore. Again, we can put
American resources to work for America by mining the ore right here at home and we can do it
safely, with an eye on the environment. What stops this from happening? Regulation. (Are we
seeing a pattern?) Let’s not forget: These mines will require lots of American labor, too.
You like gas plants because they are cleaner than coal? Good idea, but your light bill will
increase in cost about seven times and the nation’s economic growth will be slowed because of
that extra cost.
Want to really talk green? Let’s talk nuclear energy, the cleanest energy there is. Before we do,
we’ll need to remove the regulations that stand in nuclear energy’s way. Once the way is cleared,
construction of efficient and environmentally-mindful nuclear energy plants will require more
American-made materials and put even more American workers back on the payroll.
Remember, when we build things people have jobs. When people have jobs they buy things.
Maybe it’s a home, a car or other products, but making the things that people buy puts more
people to work and results in more people paying taxes.
ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR BUSINESS GROWTH
How do we put all of this in motion? Remove the regulations that keep banks from loaning
money to entrepreneurs. Let the business man do his job – building business, hiring workers and
moving our economy forward. Once again, government is in the way. The Financial Reform Act
of 2010 shut down all our financial institutions except those needing regulation the most –
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack.
What else can government do to help? Back up our financial institutions by protecting loans
written to business owners who are looking to expand and hire. With access to new capital,
business can finally start up and begin to grow again. Sure some may fail, but maybe it is time
that our political leaders served the folks who elected them rather than the moneyed elite who
bought the election. Rather than sending trillions of dollars to Wall Street, how about we spend it
on Main Street for a change?
Another thing we must address is taxes. This entire concept of making business absorb our tax
burden is absurd and has to end. Remove the repressive tax burden from business, and products
that were once built here in America could be profitably manufactured and sold here once again.
If we want America to succeed and gain back the economic glory we once held, we need to
manufacture products here that can compete on the world’s markets.
If we eliminate business taxes, prices will drop, our nation’s manufacturers can sell more
products both here and abroad, and millions more Americans will be returned to work. Imagine
not having a large enough work force. That problem would be easier to handle than millions of
jobless workers riding unemployment for years at a time.
The intelligent solution is to eliminate income taxes all together, not just for business but for
individuals as well. That’s a scary thought: How do we replace government funding? For one
thing, with government regulation out of the way and agency workforces returned to the private
sector, government would be smaller. To replace the remaining lost revenue, let’s create a broad
consumption tax on all goods sold in this country and let’s limit that tax to 8-percent.
Not enough you say? Think about this: Everything sold in this country would be taxed at point
of sale. Imported products, whose profits return to the overseas manufacturers, would be taxed.
Purchases made by cash businesses or by those skirting the law, whether legitimate businesses or
not, would now be taxed. Products made anywhere in the world and purchased here would be
taxed. Everyone would pay their fair share and the tax burden would be smaller on all of us.
You think folks would rebel if they had to pay a national sales tax? I don’t think so. Not if the
income tax that was once deducted from their paychecks is now in their pocket. That is more
money they would have to spend every week. More products sold means more workers needed
to produce more things.
With a smaller tax burden, the American company can be more competitive in the world
economy and manufacturing can return to this country. The freight cost difference alone would
make American-made goods more competitive in the domestic market.
In the proposals laid out above you’ll notice that government spending does not increase.
Revenue, however, does increase.
With government regulation out of the way, investments made by domestic oil producers will
generate trillions of dollars through oil leases and mineral rights. As revenues from those
ventures spread through the economy and beyond the oil industry, the creation of new jobs will
increase and revenues from taxes will rise.
All that government really need do is to step out of the way of America’s industry and business
and stick to the minimal role it is supposed to play in the lives of American citizens. With less
work on its hands, government will get smaller, with fewer public employees drawing tax
supported salaries and more privately-employed producers contributing to taxes.
WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY, HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION?
Social Security should continue to be funded through payroll taxes. But the federal government
needs to go back, calculate the trillions of dollars it has withdrawn from the Social Security Trust
Funds, and pay this money back with interest. Americans would be shocked at how large this
fund would be. Then consider the impact of 20 million new contributors to Social Security as a
result of economic growth. Congress would not have to pass any new laws or borrow any money
to keep Social Security solvent.
What about health care? First thing, throw out that menagerie of costly payouts passed under the
guise of health care reform. Then do what should have been done in the first place. To fix health
care government did not need to spend one dime and it certainly did not need to take over the
most efficient, though costly, health care system in the world. Instead, to lower health care costs,
congress should have given citizens tort reform, allowed us to shop for insurance across state
lines and enabled people to pool resources to buy insurance at better premiums. Tort reform
alone could have cut the country’s health care costs by 30-percent.
On the education front, there is plenty of savings to be had. Our schools and universities have
grown like government departments, focused on growth through larger appropriations.
Education expenditures no longer reflect the true value of our investments. For the billions of
dollars spent on education, we have failed to teach our youth how to be productive citizens and
instead we’ve taught them to be mere consumers. It is time to re-evaluate that approach. With
the average American tradesman approaching 50-years-old, we need to teach youth once again
that trades can be a noble career. If we want to get our economy rolling, and put American
workers back to work, we need trained laborers who know how to produce and are not afraid of a
hard day’s work.
The United States was built on a strong ethic of hard work, where folks planned for more than
mere survival and proudly labored to improve their station in life. In recent decades, as our
economy eroded and our jobs were sent to foreign shores, we have witnessed a shift in that ethic;
we’ve begun consuming more than we produce, feeding off the labor of the generations that
preceded us and killing ourselves over the crumbs of a once great nation.
We cannot simply fire up 40,000 idle factories and start production, no more than we can build
homes and hope they sell. To begin our nation’s recovery, we must start by producing something
here that is in demand and something that the market can afford. That is energy. Investing in
America’s energy creates jobs here, builds revenue for our nation’s treasury and strengthens our
Unfortunately, the hopes for any dream dims when we look at our current tax structure. To
encourage solid and prolonged economic growth we must move the tax burden from the
production end of the cycle where it stifles development, and place it at the consumption level
where it belongs. When that occurs, investments will again be made in America’s manufacturing
sector where the potential for job growth really lies.
We need our legislators to become a part of the solution, rather than remaining a part of the
problem. It will take leaders who have the courage and personal strength to challenge the
existing political order to fulfill the hopes of the voters who elected them. Through deregulation,
leaner government, expansion of domestic energy sources, real environmentalism, improved
access to capital and intelligent taxation, we can create the 20-million jobs we need and reverse
America’s declining role in the world economy.
I believe we are ALL either part of the problem or part of the solution. I prefer to be part of the
solution, if not for myself, then for my children and grandchildren. I hate to see this fine country
in the condition that we find it today. That is why I deliver this message to anyone and everyone
who wants to be a part of the solution.
As a nation together we need to change the politics-as-usual. We normal citizens do not have the
ability to write laws or repeal legislation, nor do we get to dictate what government agencies do
or how they go about doing it. Only our legislators can do this. We vote for folks each election
in the good faith that they will represent the ideals and values of the citizens back home in their
districts. Still, we are often disappointed when special interests representing the few are able to
distract our elected officials from their honored mission.
This plan, when enacted, WILL produce the 20-MILLION jobs we need! This plan will get the
American economy rolling again. And most of all, this plan will generate trillions of dollars in
royalty revenue through the harvest of oil from federal lands. It is our oil, and the revenue
produced will go to our government. Let’s hope our leaders will put it to good use.
I will be happy to explain further to anyone who desires.– Tim Searfoss
Once was a Great Nation