I am often asked by people in the community, "What's happening in America? Why is the economy in turmoil? What needs to be done to fix the problem?" I see two actionable solutions: We elect the right political leaders and we increase our purchases of products and services from American businesses.
From a national perspective, our economic woes don't seem to be solved at the government level. Congress and the president are locked in an ideological battle. They fight among themselves to make their respective plans the right solution.
Sadly, the lack of real progress and change in Washington continues unabated, affecting us all. It's hard for me to believe that the bipartisan super committee, charged to lower the massive deficit, was unable to find the cuts and revenues to solve an impending national crisis.
What were they thinking? Is not the nation hanging by a thin and frayed economic thread?
I might be naive, but I believe a few smart and experienced businessmen and women from Ogden, Utah, working together, could have developed a terrific economic recovery plan in a few weeks, one that was objective, viable, actionable and imbued confidence in government. Of course this did not happen and the country continues down a path of self-destruction.
What can be done to fix the mess? What can we personally do?
First, elect responsible legislators, national political leaders who will go to Washington and vote for what's right, not for what's expedient.
We need leaders who will be ethical, show courage, be selfless and avoid the pressures of lobbyists and the bullies in Congress with personal motives.
We need leaders who will strengthen our economy and eliminate the barriers to growth and prosperity.
We also need to voice our concerns.
Our federal representatives need to know how we feel, not just a few of us but all of us. Remember it's a government of (all) the people, by the people and for the people.
Once our legislators are in office, we need to hold them accountable for their votes. We need to see a regular score card on how they voted on each topic and why.
May I suggest the Standard-Examiner publish, on a regular basis, bills before Congress and the actions taken by our elected officials? Furthermore, I suggest we communicate directly to our leaders via email on how we feel about certain issues. We cannot sit on the sideline. We all need to get in the game.
Second, support local merchants by spending more money at their businesses.
Our duty and responsibility, locally and nationally, is to support our risk-taking business owners by buying their products and services and encouraging our family and friends to do the same.
We all need to responsibly increase our spending levels with more purchases to move the economy forward and upward. Even an increase of 10 percent would represent a profoundly positive change in America's economy.
More revenue, from our purchases, means more cash and profits for a company and that facilitates the hiring of more employees at a higher wage. In the end, the number of unemployed and underemployed Americans drops, workers will have more to spend, new homes will be built, mortgages will be paid and new cars will be purchased.
Keep in mind I am speaking in general and in collective terms. There are citizens who should obviously get out of debt, destroy their credit cards and live within their means. These individuals and families should not follow my recommendations to spend more.
The best thing we can do for ourselves is to make sure American companies are profitable and growing. In a back-handed way, we, as consumers, are investing in America's economy. I believe we are better equipped to do this than government.
If this were to happen across the United States, we would see the stock market and Gross National Product index rise to new heights with consumer confidence and prosperity increasing dramatically.
Let's agree it will take faith, patience and trust in our free enterprise system for this to occur. But, once we proceed, we will see that it works, as planned. I believe it's time we give it a try.
How do we fix America's economy? We do it by electing selfless political leaders with a clear vision and a thoughtful economic action plan, one that restores our confidence in government. We personally fix the economy by spending (investing) at higher levels of consumption.
In short, we are the catalyst of change to build a robust economy. It's in our hands, which is where it should be.
Alan Hall is founder and chairman of Grow Utah, a not-for-profit entity with a mission of stimulating economic development through entrepreneurship.