In general, I accept the notion that a country needs to have a structure of taxes and incentives that reward growth. But what, specifically, would help? U.S. tax rates are relatively low, compared with what they were in the past or with those of other rich countries. Regulations haven't changed much in the past few years, so that can't explain the current slowdown. The crucial question is, rhetoric aside, What specific changes on the supply side would make a difference?
One of America's best businessmen has an answer. Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, argues that the key to job growth is stimulating private spending on capital goods and services. "There is only one statistic that is almost 100% correlated with job creation," he says, "and it is private investment in equipment and software." But what makes companies spend on equipment and software? More orders from customers or a better climate for business? The two are related. Sometimes businesses will simply create products, which then creates demand. Nobody asked for the iPad; Apple just created it. But most of the time, businesses hire workers once they see that customers are ordering their products again.