America was built upon a culture of competition that has helped create a nation of innovators, entrepreneurs and bold leaders, not to mention a standard for success that is the envy of the world.
Competition challenges us, inspires us, and provides constant, effective feedback on what might be working and what might not be.
While Washington seems to be breeding a culture that considers competition and success flawed, it’s important that we celebrate and emulate the talent and hard work it takes to come in first.
That spirit is powering an ongoing and friendly rivalry between Texas and Florida. It’s a rivalry that promises to boost the profiles and economies of both states.
This rivalry brought us together in Florida this week to talk economic development and tourism, among other things, during a fishing challenge in Destin with veterans that have served our nation proudly. We’re looking forward to continuing this conversation and competition soon on Texas soil.
Texas currently has the nation’s best climate for business, according to outlets like CNBC and a survey of CEOs conducted by Chief Executive Magazine. The latter is a title Texas has enjoyed for eight straight years. Over the past decade, Texas has been home to a national-best 1.2 million new jobs, has enjoyed an unemployment rate below the national rate for 66 straight months and is seeing a surge in a variety of sectors, from energy to communications to biotech.
From Florida’s perspective, things are definitely moving in the right direction. Unemployment has declined over the past 19 months. In 2011 alone, Florida businesses created roughly 122,000 private-sector jobs.
Many of the steps taken to make Florida more jobs-friendly are steps that have been taken in the Lone Star State.
Texas has long been committed to promoting a combination of low taxes, fair courts, reasonable regulations and a top-notch workforce. Check with business leaders from across the country, and around the world, and they’ll agree that’s a formula that’s hard to beat.
Florida, however, will give it its best shot, and is already hot on Texas’ heels.
Both of us want our states to hold the distinction of being the No. 1 place to start, grow and bring a business, and — frankly — we’re willing to fight for it.
That’s exactly the way it’s meant to be.
Florida gets a benchmark to measure itself against in an effort to make the state a more attractive destination for employers seeking to expand or relocate. Texas gets the additional pressure of a determined competitor, which only makes the state work that much harder to retain the crown earned over the past decade.
The moment we become complacent is the moment we begin to lose our edge.
Our current leadership in Washington seems incapable of thinking in any capacity outside of promoting centralized power and one-size-fits-all policies that rarely work as effectively in one part of the country as another. In many cases, they’ll go so far as to penalize states that dare think outside the box.
That centralized approach fails to provide states much wiggle room to deal with the specific, individual challenges each state faces. Even worse, it deprives the entire nation of 50 individual laboratories of innovation, any one of which might hit upon a formula that — perhaps tweaked slightly — will help meet challenges in any other state.
Again, that’s part of the wrong idea that competition is somehow part of the problem and not the source of solutions it really is.
In spite of Washington’s resistance, competition has helped Texas remain the nation’s economic powerhouse, and allowed Florida to take positive strides in that direction. That’s because we, as governors, believe in the principles of limited government and power of the individual.
Instead, we have a culture that forces employers to overcome obstacle after obstacle, and then, when they do succeed, they get told by our president that they didn’t really build anything. Think of what all they could accomplish if Washington would simply get out of the way.
Texas has challenged the nation, and Florida has taken them up on it.
What we need are more leaders who accept the challenge of making job creation a mission, and are willing to dig into the trenches and fight for better jobs climates in their own states.
Competition has made America great, and the philosophical rejection of competition under our current leadership has put our nation on a path to failure.
It’s not too late to return to our roots and build a stronger country.
Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Republican, is a former 2012 GOP presidential candidate. Gov. Rick Scott is a Florida Republican.
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