WASHINGTON -- As we begin a new year, we look for guideposts to help governments and business improve economic performance. In a world of global competition, the platform provided to firms and individuals is crucial to growth and prosperity. From observations comparing countries that do well with those that are falling behind, here are some suggestions:

Government has few, if any, limits in coming up with new revenue-raising schemes. Such government creativity can be dangerous, become unfair and nontransparent, and go on to shape the outlook of citizens.

Let me provide one example. The state of New Hampshire recently introduced a "view factor" in its property-tax assessments. This view tax assigns a specific value to the ability to see the surrounding sights from one's property, and taxes the resulting benefit.