The guest speaker at the October 30, 2013 meeting of the Republican Club of the Pam Beaches was the Hon. Will Weatherford, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
Speaker Weatherford started his remarks by noting that we are all less free today as individuals than we were four years ago, and in four years from now we will be even less free than we are today. He saw Florida as a pocket of economic freedom and prosperity that will draw more people to move here in the future. Along with Texas, Florida is coming back faster than the rest of the nation with unemployment coming down. Another good sign is that the graduation rate from Florida high schools has increased and in 2013 it is estimated that 360,000 people will be moving to Florida and forbes rated it as one of the best places to do business. This is not an accident. Instead reflects that the decisions we are making and policies we adopt do matter.
Challenges we face include the following:
1. Education. We must continue to raise the bar and create choice and opportunity for kids to be the drivers of the economy in Florida. There will be a bill in the next legislative session that will make sure that Florida is not part of a national curriculum.
2. Health Care. Some think expanding Medicaid is the answer, but that is a broken system and creates two classes of people. Under Obamacare,if you make over a certain threshold you get coverage from an exchange, but if you are really poor your only option is Medicaid. Florida will be offering a free market alternative.
3. Water. We need to protect our natural resources and be concerned about the quality, consumption and infrastructure of our springs and rivers.
4. Unemployment for our youth. If you are under 30 today, unemployment is almost double what it is for other age groups. If you are African-American and under 30, unemployment is 23%. This exists in part because of the disconnect between the education being provided and what the business community wants. He worries because we are leaving that generation with a $17 Trillion deficit. These young people are forced to sacrifice like earlier generations to make more opportunities for the next generation while bailing out the generation that came before them. We have a moral obligation to talk about what to do for the future of our kids.
5. Lack of upward mobility today. If someone today is in the bottom quartile, they have almost no change of moving up. Government has created haves and have-nots, keeping people down and in poverty. Government has created generational poverty by providing more entitlements and giving more things. Redistribution of wealth is not the answer. We need to provide knowledge and opportunity. A vibrant educational system that gives parents a choice is necessary. If you can’t read by the 3rd grade, you will fail in like. This is a human and civil right. We need to stop attaching free enterprise and instead embrace it. Around the world since 1990, one billion people have come out of poverty. Since 1970 80% of the poverty in the world has been eliminated. The number one cause of this has been the free enterprise system.
If you want to see the difference between a government centric society and a free enterprise society, look at the nighttime pictures of the Korean peninsula. Above the 45th parallel it is darkness and below it is filled with light. We need to believe in our cause.