The Pursuit of Happiness with Jimmy Kemp and Ralph Benko

Bill WaltonCulture, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Policy, Politics

What are we here for? What do we want from this great national discussion we call politics?

Politics has devolved into a fight over property and what constitutes justice, and on most days, is an exercise in misery. What it should and could be is a discussion about our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And, as I discussed on “The Bill Walton Show” recently with Ralph Benko and Jimmy Kemp, son of the late, great Jack Kemp, we don’t talk enough about the pursuit of happiness. When we do talk about happiness, we talk in terms of pleasant, positive emotions and having needs satisfied. When the founders were using the phrase in 1776, they meant prosperity, thriving, wellbeing.

And that is where the conversation should turn today. How do we make it so more can prosper and thrive as opposed to simply existing? How do we get well as a nation? Ralph has been thinking and writing about this, and Jimmy, of course, lived it from his youngest days.

The solutions seem so practical – a simplified tax code that treats everyone equally and what Ralph calls a “high-quality, high-integrity monetary policy.” But thousands of Washington lobbyists make billions of dollars per year protecting the complexity of the tax code, and, despite the enormous economic growth potential of a strong dollar, it remains an orphan issue.

Who among us doesn’t believe there is nothing wrong with our most impoverished cities that could not be cured by radical education reform and investment incentives that can lead to decent-paying jobs? If a strong dollar indeed brought 4 percent annual growth, as experts believe it would, households would double their net worth every 15 years, as opposed to every 75 years under current conditions.

That kind of economic growth can buy a lot more prosperity, thriving and well-being.