Good Values at the Root of Utah’s Success

By Paolo von Schirach

WASHINGTON – A recent article pointed out how, year after year, Utah is on top of the national list of the best states to do business in America, not to mention that the state gets very high marks on good governance; while in Utah there is very low unemployment, lower than the historically low national average of 3.5%. And in Utah kids attending public schools on average do rather well compared to the rest of the U.S., notwithstanding the fact that in Utah spending per pupil is quite below the national average. Well, what is the secret of this success?

Nothing special about Utah

There is absolutely nothing special about this Western landlocked state. Sure, there are mountains, and parks and a great deal of pristine nature. But this natural beauty is not at the foundation of Utah’s growth, and therefore it cannot explain sustained prosperity. And yet, year after year, Utah stays on top of many significant national rankings dealing with easiness to do business, governance, quality of life, and more.

The secret is the people and their values

Well, here is the reason: the people of Utah. Yes, the people of Utah and their values. We know that most people in Utah are Mormons, (62%). Whatever your opinion about this rather mysterious religion, we know that this faith strongly promotes values of thrift, frugality, sobriety, honesty and charitable giving. Could this –deeply held values that promote best practices in education, business and government– be the ingredients of Utah’s secret sauce? I think so. The spiritual values held by many Utah’s citizens do indeed have a beneficial impact on the society they built.

So, there you have it. Sustained economic growth and good governance reinforce each other, and both of them are the byproduct of good values sincerely embraced by the people.

No proprietary economic development strategies

Utah’s, “economic miracle” is not the outcome of following sophisticated, complex investment and economic development strategies, or proprietary computer generated models developed by a team of management super gurus.

The truth is disarmingly simple. Values that hold in high regard a good education, entrepreneurship, honesty, hard work, frugality and lean but effective government inspire productive, honest behavior and good public administration. And all this eventually translates into prosperity.

“You mean, that’s it?”

Yes, that’s it.

Obama Proposes Hiring More Civil Servants To Lower Unemployment – At A “Jobs Event” Governors And Mayors Talked About Attracting The Private Sector – Not Even One Word About Obama’s Plan

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By Paolo von Schirach

June 13, 2012

WASHINGTON – Watching a major June 13 event on jobs creation sponsored in Washington, DC by the US Chamber of Commerce, one thing was clear: not even one of the Governors, Mayors and County Executives who spoke said one word about the need to hire more civil servants as a way to solve or alleviate their employment issues. Not even one. And yet, if you listen to President Obama, hiring more teachers, policemen and firefighters –with funding from Washington coming from more borrowing, as there is no cash left– is the best strategy to put people to work and jump start the US economy.

Not one word about Obama’s plan

So, here we have an interesting discrepancy. The President has this great economic growth therapy based on more public spending (which means higher debt) to hire more public servants. The states and municipalities, that is the recipients of all this Washington largess, do not even mention any of this at an event in which they showcase their indigenous ability to attract business as the best way to create employment.

Governors’ message: we want the private sector

In fact, these Governors (Utah, Nebraska, Delaware and Wisconsin), plus the Mayor of Denver and the Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) Executive, talked exclusively about their relentless efforts to improve their respective business environments, so that they will be able to attract more private sector investments.

Their message was forceful and clear. They want your business, anybody’s business: domestic and foreign investors, all welcome. And they made their case as to why they deserve these investments. They discussed at length their states’ tax system, their modernized infrastructure, their universities, their schools, their public amenities, their deregulation policies.

But not one word was uttered about being hampered in their investment promotion efforts by an inadequate number of civil servants. Not even one word. In fact, one of the speakers, Dave Heineman, the Governor of Nebraska, proudly stated how the massive adoption of IT systems allowed him to do away with hundreds of state employees, without undermining services.

Campaign rhetoric does not address real needs

So, the hard evidence shows how presidential campaign rhetoric may sound nice; but it is irrelevant. The ”solutions” proposed by Obama trying to get re-elected are not what the people directly affected are looking for. What Obama would like to offer are a few subsidized jobs. But these elected officials (Republicans and Democrats) know that its is the private sector that brings real prosperity.