Who will Lead Us?

bevy of swans

Photo: Carl loves Somerset

Laura Hollis offers an important perspective on entrepreneurship in America in a recent column at Townhall.com.  She was reflecting on a show she had watched on the History Channel that chronicled the role in the great entrepreneurial boom that ushered in the economic transformation that shaped the twentieth century:

As I watched, it struck me how painfully long it had been since I had heard the political leadership in this country inspire Americans with reminders of our country’s – and our citizens’ – greatness in the face of difficulty, and the entrepreneurs’ part in that greatness. If the average American’s ignorance about entrepreneurship is troubling, lack of understanding of American entrepreneurship at the political level is potentially catastrophic. Understanding America’s unique ability to start and grow successful businesses, and the vital role those businesses play in our liberty and prosperity, is critical to the development and implementation of public policies that foster rather than thwart entrepreneurship.

An exchange in a debate between candidates for governor in Connecticut captures how far we have moved away from relying on the ingenuity and risk taking of entrepreneurs to lead our economic growth.  You can view the video here

Let me be clear that both parties have come up painfully short when it comes to public policy that can turn entrepreneurs loose to help lead us down the long, hard road to rebuilding American economic prosperity.  When they say the right thing, it is too often simply lip service.  When we look at their actions we see that both parties have adopted an interventionist approach to economic policy. 

Note that I am very careful not to use the term economic recovery.  It is my growing belief that we are long past the point where we can simply hope to recover the prosperity we experienced during the latter part of the last century.

It is time for a fundamental transformation in our economy.  It is time for some old fashioned Schumpeterian creative destruction. 

We must resist the temptation for quick economic fixes that play well in news bites.  Rather than calling for our political leaders to “Do something!”, it is time to ask them to let market forces run their course.  Let failure happen and get out of the way of those who will rebuild the economy out of the ashes of that failure.

(Thanks to Bruce Schierstedt and Ben Cunningham for passing along material used in this post).

Dr. Jeff Cornwall is the inaugural recipient of the Jack C. Massey Chair in Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.  He also serves as the Director of the centre for Entrepreneurship.  He has published six books and numerous articles on entrepreneurship.

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