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Carrie Lukas

There are many causes of poverty, but one main, unnecessary cause is our substandard public school system. Education is critical to ensuring that someone can find a job and support themselves. Too many of our public schools simply don't offer a quality education and lead kids to drop out of school. The United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars on our K-12 public education system, and we simply aren't getting our money's worth. We need serious, comprehensive reform that encourages more competition among schools and greater innovation within the education sector so that all children have the opportunity to climb out of poverty.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas

Carrie Lukas

Economies prosper when innovative thinkers are able to put their ideas to work, creating new advancements in technology and productivity, making it cheaper and easier to create and sell products that we need and want.

It's worthwhile to step back and consider how most people have lived throughout human history. For most of civilization, man had to attempt to secure food for himself and his family, build a shelter, and create clothes. How have we moved so far beyond that now? It's because some bright people figured out better ways to produce things so that we could all start specializing in the duties for which we are best suited. We don't need to grow our own food, because now a few farmers and agriculture companies produce enough to feed everyone at a relatively low cost. That allows the rest of us to spend out times on other activities.

The technological developments that we've witnessed in just this passed generation are the perfect example of what makes an economy prosper: Today it's easier to communicate, work, produce and trade goods with people around the world than at any other time in human history.

Policymakers and the public need to think about how to we create an environment that maximizes the likelihood that someone will develop and bring to fruition the next round of life changing innovations.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas

Carrie Lukas

Minimum wage laws make hiring workers more expensive and price some workers out of employment. People misunderstand the labor market, worry about those who aren't making a living wage and therefore support high minimum wages. But overwhelmingly, those working for minimum wage are teenagers and those just entering the workforce. These first jobs may be low-paying, but they are critical for skill building. Raising the minimum wage makes it less likely that companies are going to hire those who really need that critical first job -- which is one of the reasons our teen unemployment rate is so high today. It's far worse to have no job than to have one that pays relatively little. The inability to get a first job and have that skill building experience will be a drag on the economy for years to come.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas

Carrie Lukas

Government needs to protect property rights and enforce a strong, transparent legal system, but otherwise should have a limited role in our economy and instead allow the free market to work.

Today, the government wants to guide the economy, often choosing which technologies and industries deserve favored status (tax breaks or subsidies), which is an inherently corrupt process and counter-productive to economic growth. It's impossible to imagine that a cadre of politicians or bureaucrats are best suited to decide which businesses and industries deserve resources. We need individuals to make those decisions, since they have an incentive to make sure that money is used wisely. Washington has no such incentive.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas

Carrie Lukas

Workers unions once had an important role in creating needed protections for employees. Large employers that needed lots of largely unskilled labor didn't have a big incentive to create safe work conditions or pay decent wages to any particular employee. When those employees joined together in a union, they were better positioned to negotiate.

Now, however, most of these unions have outlived their usefulness and are often counterproductive for workers, forcing companies to pay exorbitant benefits and creating high labor costs makes the company less competitive—and ultimately can drive them out of business. We've seen this play out in the auto industry. It's hardly good news for workers to have their employers have to shut down.

And today most union workers don't work for businesses, they work for the government. And it's easy to see how the dynamic with government - worker unions are entirely different. They aren't negotiating with a counterpart focused on the bottom-line. They negotiate with politicians -- and often politicians that they help elect. In fact, unions pour millions into electing politicians who in turn give unions (particularly union bosses) sweetheart deals at taxpayer expense. This is terrible for taxpayers and the economy.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas

Carrie Lukas

Many mistakenly assume that taxing the wealthy hurts only the wealthy, but the effects actually ripple throughout the economy. When the rich have less money to spend and invest, that means fewer customers and less capital for businesses, and fewer jobs for the rest of us. And of course, many of those who are demeaned “rich” through the tax code are actually small businesses. When these small businesses are hit with high taxes, they have to cut other costs (for example, by employing fewer people) or raise prices.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas

Carrie Lukas

One of the problems we have in talking about tax reform today is that we start with an enormously complicated, deeply flawed, existing tax structure.

If we were starting from scratch, it would be easy. You would want to keep the tax system as simple and unobtrusive as possible while avoiding the elements which discourage the behaviors that spur growth. Income taxes and taxes on investment, for example, discourage the very behavior -- work and savings -- that are essential to a growing, dynamic economy. Therefore, a consumption tax (a Value-Added Tax or sales tax) would be a better system, and could be designed so that those with lower incomes receive additional support or exemptions from paying those taxes.

However, given what we have today at the federal level--a highly progressive tax system on income, investment, and corporations—we'd be better off focusing on simplifying the code by removing loop holes and then lowering the overall tax rate.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas

Carrie Lukas

I'm sure people have been disagreeing about the proper role of government since the idea of government was first conceived. Many have different values and priorities, and believe that different results flow from sets of policies.

I hope however that we can continue to use research-based analysis and consider how our own decisions are influenced by government policy. I believe that there is often wishful thinking about how government works and human beings act. We've seen throughout history how governments with lots of power tend to be corrupt and often fail the people they are supposed to serve.

Independent Women's Forum director and Goldwater Institute senior fellow, Carrie Lukas