Envisioning Florida's Future: Amanda Beck, Tampa

"What Should Be Next For Florida?'' Young professional Amanda Beck opines about what she sees on Florida's political horizon. 83 Degrees invites young professionals to submit opinion columns of 600-800 words describing what they would like to see in Florida's future.

These are historical times in America. The culmination of an economic crisis, changing attitudes toward the role of government in our everyday lives and the subsequent emergence of new political movements are painting a picture of a country on the brink – the next few years will determine the identity of America going forward.  

Nowhere else in our country was this demonstrated as clearly as it was in Florida after the November elections, catapulting our state into a position of leadership for the entire country.

Despite the fact that the headlining winners of that election, namely Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, are Republicans in a state with a clear majority of Democrat voters, this was not a partisan victory.

Relative newcomers who did not always have the support of the RPOF (Republican Party of Florida), these leaders were elected because of the ideal that they represent and the priorities of their constituents.  

These ideals – smaller government, greater emphasis on government spending, increased emphasis of the private sector – can be executed in a way that will bring both prosperity and stability to Florida, and lead the way for the rest of the country.  

What Florida needs right now are stronger communities, a strong defense against the federal government's attempt to encroach upon the rights of our state, and the introduction of more businesses and industry.  None of these can be achieved without the other, and it is imperative that we jump into these goals with full force and hold our new leaders accountable for the promises that they have made.

Building stronger communities is imperative on different levels and is in the best interests of every citizen in Florida.  

As the past as shown us, communities are not eradicated of their problems by throwing money at some issues while ignoring others. Stronger communities, in part, are the result of less reliance on the omnipresent government on both an individual and administrative level. This is achieved by a focus of resources on local, private charities and organizations whose focus it is to serve the individuals and small businesses of their neighborhoods.  

These organizations see those in need on a face to face basis, live in the areas they serve and best know what families need in order to grow and prosper, or just make it through a tough time. They are held accountable in a way that the government is not. 

It's Not All About Money

While the government is undeniably astute in how to write a check – what it cannot do is look in the eyes of those who need assistance and provide both temporary help and long-term solutions so that they can rise out of their current situation and become self reliant, rather than spending their lives treading water.  Obviously, entitlement programs have their place in our society and do provide aid to those who need.  What they do not do, however, is promote growth of the individual or hold the individual accountable when needed.  This is not good for our citizens, it is not good for our economy and it is not good for our communities.

Promoting private charities will teach neighbors to work together to solve problems that no amount of money can resolve without the involvement of the individual.  

Florida also needs to start diversifying in terms of the types of businesses and industries that we attract. With an unemployment rate significantly higher than the already abysmal national unemployment rate, the state has for too long relied too heavily upon the tourism/hospitality industry.  

While continuing to develop and back this industry is vital to both our economy and identity, tourism is not stable enough to support our state through tough economic times, as tourism is the first causality when people have to tighten their belts.  

Instead, we need to make sure that our new governor, Rick Scott, uses his experience as a business leader in our state to attract a diverse group of businesses who want to operate in Florida.

Let Business Conduct Business 

Then our local governments need to make sure that over-regulation, permitting and zoning do not place an undue burden on companies and prevent them from being able to set up quickly, efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.  

We also need to further develop the agricultural industry in Florida. With the dollar falling and inflation looming, Florida needs to promote higher production rates from our farmers and reject federal subsidies which inhibit production.  By increasing the amount of food that comes from our state, we will be able to keep costs down for our citizens once inflation does hit, and to turn the inflation into a strong economic move by being able to have more product to sell outside of our state.  

By building up not only our economy, but also our communities and individuals, we will be able to be self reliant as a state and a leader in our country.  Self reliance means that we can reject federal funding which masks political power plays with altruism, regaining control on a state level.  

Why is this important? Because no one knows what Floridians need more than Floridians, and we're a pretty smart group of people.

Amanda Beck is a young professional who began her career in Tampa after graduating from Rollins College in 2007.  She is actively involved in the Tampa community with various nonprofit organizations including the Tampa Bay Young Republicans. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

"What Should Be Next For Florida?'' 83 Degrees invites young professionals to submit opinion columns of 600-800 words describing what they would like to see next in Florida. What do you think?