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Utah's Economic Success Depends on Social Framework

The Washington County Commission has published a Strategic Economic Development Plan for 2018 to 2028. This plan places a primary emphasis on STEM education, technology entrepreneurship, affordable housing and inter-generational poverty. The social goals are necessarily interconnected with the economic goals.

Utah companies are burdened with providing employee health-care benefits and educational benefits. The cost of this administrative burden has an impact on profitability. Utah's economy depends on a healthy and educated workforce. In order to attract businesses to Utah and to relieve our companies from this costly overhead of benefit administration, we need a social framework to support all citizens.

In our democracy, people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our Constitution provides for the right to a free public education for everyone. If we considered health care as a right to life, then universal health care would be available for everyone. Can you imagine the business community's prosperity if every employee had free education and free health-care benefits?

Let's go ahead and address the most misunderstood word in the English language "socialism." The definition of socialism is quite varied but always includes this central tenet: The state owns the means of production. The countries who have tried this approach, the USSR and Cuba, have failed miserably. The Fifth Amendment to our Constitution with its Just Compensation Clause protects private property rights and would never allow socialism to be practiced in America. The state government could not own the means of manufacturing or production. One of the varied items in the definition of socialism includes providing for the social welfare of all citizens. In our Preamble, this is referred to as the "Common Good" or the "General Welfare."

Some governments do practice a combination of capitalism and social welfare. China embeds capitalism inside a communist system. The Nordic countries — Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway — have the most successful economies because they embrace free-market capitalism within a comprehensive social welfare framework. They have a higher tax rate but no higher than our administrative fees on top of high taxes. Their national debt averages half of their GDP ($158 billion), not 10 times like ours does ($21.5 trillion).

What if every American was guaranteed higher education, comprehensive health care and prescriptions, affordable housing, affordable child care, adequate food and an income? This is the kind of social framework that would let business take care of business. We could thrive in the world economy. A social framework like this has been shown to decrease the soaring health-care costs, emergency room visits, bankruptcies, suicides and addictions.

Implementing such a strong social framework addresses both our economic prosperity and our social quality-of-life goals. We could receive a great ROI from investing in such a social framework. Utah's future business success might just depend on it.

Congratulations to the County Commission for recognizing this. Now let's implement it.

Chuck Goode is the chair of the Washington County Democratic Party of Utah. His email address is

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