The Decline of the Entrepreneur
Just finished reading James Pethokoukis’ article: Where Are All the Startups? More in America’s Economic Calcification which followed this years much reported (left-leaning) Brookings Inst. study showing American Start-Ups rates are Declining.
As a small business advocate and trainer of new Entrepreneurs and the son of an Entrepreneur who moved his family from 1970’s business unfriendly England to the U.S., I believe the attrition rate of small business is a deeply troubling trend that if not reversed, can shift geopolitical economic power balances.
While many regulatory and tax issues can be attributed to the decline, I see a more unsettling macro reason for it: The ‘Entrepreneur’ represents capitalism in it’s most pure form… and ‘capitalism’ has become a pejorative.
From grade school through graduate school, we have loud and pervasive voices questioning the intentions and results of capitalism. The idea of free-enterprise, business formation, ownership and ultimately, achieving success has become a representation of all that is dystopian in society.
However, I am also somewhat optimistic.
The last 15 years have shown that government interference and political cronyism have only helped the richest and most powerful. From the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall leading to the real estate bubble and 2008 financial collapse, to the Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policies & Quantitative Easing creating artificial bubbles and ‘too big to save’ banks, to the bank authored Dodd-Frank act protecting those banks.
The debt laden ‘Millenials’ who graduated with degrees from the ‘Elizabeth Warren School of Fair-Shareness’ hit the reality of job interviews, necessary work ethic and competition.
They are realizing that the expensive echo chamber hyperbole they received from left-leaning media and schools has not prepared them for what we all know is reality: The need to take care of themselves and their families.
As the 25-35 year olds start to become more intellectually curious and honest about the one sided Keynesian philosophy they are still paying off, they wonder if public sector policy dictates actually cause more damage than it helps.
Generation X and Millennial business rock stars now loudly espouse the benefits of hard work and entrepreneurship. GoPro’s billionaire Nicholas Woodman, or Tesla/Space X owner Elon Musk can be the best teachers of capitalism and Entrepreneurship. (Opposed to the ivory tower tenured philosophy professors and that whole ‘hopey changey’ political thing they were once so excited about.)
We are now starting to see this percolate even in corners of our pop culture. With entertaining and educational television shows like “Shark Tank” and “The Profit”, children and adults alike are learning that not only is it OK to want to succeed (by hard work and creativity), but it is actually kinda cool!
We can only hope that as the lessons of failed centralized government policies hit the pocket book of younger generations, we will see a reversal in the downward trend of Entrepreneurship.
The only true Recovery is one where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, not just the fat cats on Wall Street or their minions in Washington. Free enterprise provides that opportunity.