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Entrepreneurship Will Drive U.S. Into The Future

In another sign of the looming apocalypse, Via Meadia finds itself in strong agreement with Screamin’ Howard Dean, onetime presidential candidate and leader of a grassroots political committee.  There is a lot Dr. Dean gets wrong, but he is right about innovation in the US. Here’s what he said recently in DC, from the Washington Post:

“I think there’s plenty of innovation still going on…The entrepreneurial spirit in America is very much alive especially among young people,” said Dean. “I know a ton of kids who got a couple of jobs, lost them in succession, then started their own Internet companies. And most of them failed. And they make a little money for a while, they learn a lot, and then they turn around and do something else. That’s a very important process. The failure of this country is in the political class, the financial class and the media,” said Dean, “but there’s still enormous dynamism in America, and I absolutely believe that dynamism is going to overcome everything else.”

“We have a long road ahead of us, as a species, but the progress has also been accelerating,” Dean continued. “What excites me is a generation that’s even more fearless than we were. But willing to set aside the kinds of faults that we had.”

Exactly right. Not only is failure an important part of innovation but Dean is also right about our collective future. The pace of change is increasing, and increasing quickly and the dynamism of American society is the key to our future.  That innovative, risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit is a great national asset to be conserved and encouraged.  If this is the message Dr. Dean is taking around the country, more power to him.

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  • gavin

    as governator of vermont sneering howie was pretty good at squelching the entrepreneurial spirit.unfortunately the current governor is even further into goofey.

  • Jordan

    But I wouldn’t classify the current political tone as encouraging the innovative, risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit.

    I would classify it as encouraging some form of anaesthetized existence.

  • Luke Lea

    “The pace of change is increasing, and increasing quickly. . .”

    How do you measure that?

    Compared to the mechanization of agriculture, for instance? When my father was born it was still horse-and-buggy days. By the time he died there was a man on the moon.

    But the larger point is that innovation alone will not solve our problems. From the IBM 360 fifty years ago til now, the IT revolution has been as big as they come. Yet the effect so far, for most ordinary people, has been falling wages and a lot of technological unemployment.

    A hundred years ago we responded to the introduction of new labor-saving innovations with the eight-hour day and the end of child labor. Everybody won.

  • Jeff Weimer

    There’s a difference between those who succeed and and those who fail.

    The successes have failed more.

  • Gene

    Luke Lea: How can you argue that innovation alone will not solve our problems? Unless you can predict the future (in which case you would likely not be hanging around here), you can’t possibly know what innovations haven’t already been created, or their effects on human life.

    Surely “innovation” applies to more than just new technology and other inanimate objects? As a fan of the 8-hour day, wouldn’t you agree that it was an innovation in its own right?

  • Luke Lea

    Entrepreneurship drives economic and technological progress? Yes, I agree. In a market economy anyway. It is at the very least a necessary ingredient.

    Three examples:

    We went from a society in which eighty percent of the population were engaged in growing food to one in which only 2 percent did the same job, a 40-to-1 reduction.

    We went from roughly half the population engaged in manufacturing things in shops and factories to fifteen percent, a 3-to-1 reduction.

    Housewives went from spending sixty or seventy hours a week doing all the necessary shopping, cooking, cleaning, sewing, and washing to about a third of that amount, again a 3-to-1 reduction.

    On the other hand, over the past half century I would estimate the number of manhours spent educating the populace K-1 through 12, plus 2-to-4 years of college, has (at least) doubled or tripled with little to show for it.

    The number of manhours spent policing society has gone up several fold, again with little to show for it. In fact we’ve gone backwards.

    The number of man hours per capita spent keeping us healthy has increased several fold, consuming one out of every seven dollars we earn, again with little to show for it apart from the introduction of antibiotics. Half of those dollars are spent on people in their last year of life, maybe half the remainder in their last ten years.

    The conclusion I draw is that entrepreneurs should concentrate on finding new and more efficient ways to deliver healthcare, police protection, and education.

  • Pete Dellas

    Howard Dean supports the idea of the government taking from those who finally succeed in order to give some of the fruits of that success to those who do not even try to succeed. But it was those failures that kept driving those who eventually succeeded. By enabling those who sit around and live off of their neighbor’s success without materially contributing to it (for example by working for them), you create a class of people who have no incentive to support themselves, preferring rather to let someone else support them. And, to be clear, I am not talking about those who are still in “failure mode”, but are working at succeeding.

    It is practically self-evident that when a portion of a person’s “load” is reliably and consistently being taken up by someone or something, that person will cease to try to take that burden back unless he is forced to. When I was a teenager, I learned this lesson. After driving a car, I ceased riding my bicycle everywhere. Over 30 years later and that hasn’t changed. Ponder that and apply it to the entitlement class.

    Finally, just as a broken clock is right twice a day, so even Howard Dean can stumble across the truth once in awhile. Or, maybe I should hope he’s seen the light?

  • Ann

    As long as it’s as hard as it is to start up new hardware companies (and believe me I know this from experience), there won’t be major leaps and bounds in innovation. We still have VCs under the illusion that there is massive value in things like FaceBook, but are timid to invest in new display technologies or chip designs. Patient money has long disappeared and with regulations such as SOX and Dodd/Frank, investors are even more scarce. It costs 100,000s of dollars just in lawyer fees to comply with all the new regulations, something Apple, Intel, Dell, and IBM didn’t have to deal with – and that’s before file your patents and you make your prototype. Don’t count on “(t)hat innovative, risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit is a great national asset to be conserved and encouraged”, because it is being undermined by government, unless you sell solar panels or windmills.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    1. Small business start ups and expansions are responsible for the vast majority of new jobs during a normal recovery.
    2. A few years ago 60% of American family net wealth was the equity in their home. This percentage rises significantly for middle class families that own less stocks and bonds.
    3. The funding for Small business start ups and expansions mostly comes from home equity loans.
    4. 30% of Americans with mortgages are upside down, owing more than their home is worth.
    5. Since the Democrats took control of the Government they have sucked $6 Trillion out of the financial markets, that is capital that is no longer available for lending.

    So asking from a completely logistical point of view, where is the financing going to come from for all this wonderful Entrepreneurship? Are banks who’s loss mitigation departments are being flooded with defaults and foreclosures going to start giving even riskier small business loans?

    I think our only way out is an export driven recovery, and we better move fast before protectionism can sink it’s teeth. China just announced a tariff on American large cars and SUV’s.

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