The Power of Incentive

Romney speaks on the importance of the private sector, free enterprise

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Though he made no mention of a potential run for president in 2012, the support for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was palpable when he entered the stage to a standing ovation at the 2010 Restaurant Leadership Conference, presented by CSP. Romney went on to garner one more standing ovation after he spoke about the importance of the private sector to the U.S. culture and economy.

"I have great respect for people in the private sector, and I know how hard it is," the one-time CEO for Bain & Co. told the 1,000-plus, standing-room-only crowd [image-nocss] at the conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Romney expressed deep concern for how he saw the Obama administration treating the business community. "People in the public sector just don't understand the importance of profits," he said.

Too often, a profitable quarter or year is thought to mean fattened wallets for top executives. But what's not realized, he said, is just how much of that money goes back into growth, R&D and more jobs.

But even more, it's the incentive created by profits that makes businessand countriesrun more efficiently and successfully, he said.

To illustrate his point, Romney told a story from his first years as governor of Massachusetts. The state had a large deficit, and one of the causes was a policy that placed homeless people in hotel rooms when shelters were full. The problem was that word would get out when a shelter was full, and more people would show up to get a room. The state was racking up a $25 million annual hotel bill.

So he changed the policy: Once the shelters were full, the people that were there the longest were the ones sent to the hotelinstead of the ones who showed up at the shelter door that night. It worked, and the state went from averaging nearly 700 hotel rooms a night to zero.

Romney went on to express his concern for the degradation of free enterprisewhat he sees as the key to maintaining America's position as global leader in the 21st century and the one thing that those other countries vying for the spot (such as China and Russia, he said) lack. What is happening in Congress, including cap and trade and card-check policies, "is killing that spirit" of the country "where every entrepreneur and pioneer want[s] to be."

Nonetheless, Romney believes Americans are "rising up."

"It is the love of America and the sacrifices made for it that gives me confidence that we will rise again," he said.

Abbie Westra, CSP/Winsight By Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP
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