As the opening keynote speaker at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2010 Annual Conference in San Diego, Steve Forbes didn’t exactly focus on HR. But his message Sunday was well-received nonetheless: Better times are just around the bend.
Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes Media and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, reassured thousands of attendees that the signs are there for a recovering economy: a growth rate at or above 4 percent, consumers beginning to spend again, Asian economies growing … .
“Employment is the only real continuing disappointment,” said Forbes. “There is great uncertainty out there.” He went on to rehash a little history, reminding his listeners that the economy did its share of ebbing and flowing in the 1970s — “when there was growth, then it hit the wall, then there was growth, then it hit the wall again.”
Whether this recovery can sustain itself, Forbes said, depends on the dollar: “You cannot get sustained recovery while the dollar remains low.” And why is the dollar low? “Because the Federal Reserve has simply been printing too much money,” he said. He likened a society with the perfect amount of money for optimal and sustained growth to a car running on the right amount of gas.
“You have the right amount of fuel, you move ahead,” said Forbes. “You put in too much fuel, you flood the engine. The feds have flooded the engine.”
He then went on to suggest a road map to a sustained recovery, one that would abolish the federal income tax code as we know it “and start all over.” He got a nice round of applause when he called for a flat tax. He got another round when he urged lawmakers to “put in conditions that allow people to get back on their feet, and make it simple to establish new businesses.”
He gave reasons for some of today’s unfolding crises: the BP nightmare in the Gulf, because BP — cited for many safety violations — chose not to “follow the rules” — and the healthcare crisis, because “the consumer is no longer in charge, because everyone is controlled by a third party… .”
His one warning shot to HR practitioners was to “stay on top of the strong head winds coming your way in the form of changing regulations,” because with this current administration and Congress, he said, “they’re coming.”