Any discussion on job creation must start from the premise that politicians don’t create jobs, businesses do. Government should maintain an environment where businesses can grow and thrive. Here is how we can do that in South Carolina.
Let businesses keep more of their own money
It takes revenue to grow and expand a business. Every dollar we take from a business is a dollar that could be used to hire someone. Here are some practical ways to relieve the oppressive financial burden on businesses:
- Reduce or eliminate the property tax, and instead rely on a flat retail sales tax. We might not even have to raise the sales tax rate - 6% is probably enough if we just flatten it out and eliminate all the special exemptions that have been carved into it.
- Cut the income tax, and flatten it rather than rely on antiquated tax brackets that haven’t been adjusted for inflation in decades.
Cut regulations and red tape
It should be simple and easy for businesses to operate. Let’s stop putting the proverbial lemonade stand out of business with excessive DHEC permits and fees.
Where government does have to be involved, it should function in a professional and effective way. There should be clear checks and balances on state agencies, and a clear line of recourse for the business if that agency isn't doing their job or is abusing their power.
Businesses also need the ability to hire new workers without fear of financial consequences coming down from the government in the form of higher unemployment insurance. They should be able to hire and train underprivileged and uneducated people without worrying about what happens if they don’t work out. Self-employed entrepreneurs should be allowed to opt-out of the state unemployment insurance. And we need to quit punishing businesses for firing people they can't use!
Stop making businesses pay for their own competition
Finally, business owners need to know that their tax dollars aren't going to pay for their competition's new factory or their utility bills.
Certainly no relocating business will choose South Carolina’s 10% manufacturing tax rate over Georgia’s 6%, but the problem that our politicians (including our Governor) have so far ignored is that our high tax rates are the problem. South Carolina has the highest manufacturing property tax in the nation. Instead of fixing this, they would rather play investment banker with your money and go after the big companies that make nice headlines, while leaving the little guys out to dry.
Not only are tax incentives unfair, they are unsustainable. Trying to run an economy on tax incentives is like trying to run a car on starter fluid. It may work at first, but it’s going to tear your engine up eventually because it was never designed to be run that way. If we do this long enough, we will become a state where you have to have a politician in your back pocket to get ahead in business.
At the end of the day, government just needs to get out of the way and let the free market do its thing. When the Pilgrims landed, they didn't have government assistance, and yet through hard work, perseverance, and courage, they pressed on and built not just a community, but a nation.
South Carolina is full of those kinds of heroes. All we need is a government that will get out of the way and let us operate.