Im going to say something that will probably sound heretical to many in the metals sector: When it is functional, government provides certainty in an otherwise uncertain environment.
I mention this because AMMs annual survey of metal company executives reveals yet again that uncertainty is a major concern among industry leaders. In fact, 59 percent of survey respondents said that President Obamas re-election will make the business climate less certain in 2013.
But its in the interest of businesses of all stripes to pressure the government to do what its supposed to do, which is to communicate to the entire country a vision and a means to achieve it. No individual, no single business, no particular industry and no general economy succeeds in a vacuum. The market requires investment and workers and resources and clients and credit and a legal system and diplomacy and, yes, even safeguards.
Only the government can reach across that wide spectrum of realities and competing interests and create a structure. That is the very essence of its existence; it represents the ideal of being able to forge an eventual consensus and a common path forward for everyone. In other words, the government provides general and overall certainty.
Over the next two years, and very likely over the next four, it is going to be difficult because of the partisan bickering and gamesmanship that has infected Washington. As a counterweight to that, everyone in the metals sector should reach out to the White House, to Congress, and to state and local officials and let your voice be heard. Tell them to get to work, to get the job done, to tie up the loose ends and to make the business environment more certain.
That message should be driven not by ideology, but by what is good for business. And if youre worried that passage of legislation you disagree with is untenable, just remember that history is littered with examples of people, businesses and institutions once convinced that legislation from one side of the fence or the other was going to doom us, only to find that the courageous political leaders they were demonizing were really doing what was good for us after all. That much is certain.