Two things hit home in particular this week, even more so than the stock market volatility.
First, reading through the nearly 5,000 employee responses to our Best Places to Work nominee surveys -- the winners will be publicly announced next week -- it was clear people loved their workplaces but were nonetheless crying out for a better economy and the things that come with it such as better pay and the opportunity to advance their careers. This wasn't whining. It was a desire to improve, to return to the kind of economic growth that has been the hallmark of the U.S.
Secondly, reading through the profiles of the Business Journal's inaugural CFO Recognition Awards winners, over and over these financial leaders mentioned the importance of retaining capital during these highly uncertain times. Indeed, companies across the U.S. are keeping their cash as a safety net because few of us can see what might be coming next or to be positioned to acquire strategic assets. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that cash on hand at non-financial companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index increased by 59 percent since 2008 to $1.12 trillion. Who can blame them. It's smart business.
Reflecting on these two items and the state of the economy and political rhetoric, here is a speech that I'd like to hear:
"Dear fellow Americans. The world knows in its heart -- even if there are doubters out there today -- that American workers and companies are the best in the world. You out-produce, out-compete and out-innovate anyone on the planet and take pride in doing so.
"And it's high time to unleash you to work your magic before it is too late to crawl out of this economic downdraft.
"Starting today, we will begin to scale back the onslaught of new government regulatory powers unleashed in the past few years. The flood of new rules and threats of new rules coming from Washington and Sacramento have created a air of uncertainty over broad sectors of our economy from banking to education. Everyone wants smart oversight, but not overbearing, job-killing oversight.
"We will focus immediately on job creation. And to to that, we must stop bashing the successful business owners and entrepreneurs -- you know, the 'millionaires and billionaires' -- who fund companies and people with dreams and ideas and create jobs. Until we do this, small businesses that create the majority of jobs will remain hunkered down.
"We will immediately approve trade liberalization pacts with South America that have been unnecessarily delayed for more than two years running.
"We will invest in education that is results oriented.
"We will move away from the European model of heavily subsidizing certain types of alternative energy and unbridle the private sector to develop new technologies and approaches.
"We will reform our tax system so it is simpler and makes our corporations more competitive. That, too, will help companies create jobs in the U.S.
"This is only a start.
"But start we must."
•••Brad Bollinger is the Business Journal's editor in chief and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.