Back in the day when you fumbled your way to turn off the alarm clock, or took your Walkman to the gym, or mapped out a particular destination, did you ever think to yourself “man it’d be great if I could access all my stuff at once in the palm of my hand?” If you did, did you go around waving money hoping someone would concoct and sell such a device to you? Doubtful.
Make no mistake; for all but the most basic goods, supply creates demand.
Many of us have had an idea(s) that we thought could possibly be turned into a worthwhile commercial venture, but how many could actually do something about it?
While we’re partying, playing ball or otherwise maximizing our leisure time, folks like computer programming pioneer Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, or Tony Fadell, co-inventor of the Nest Thermostat, are trying to figure out a way to make life better, easier. Whereas we’re busy adding bells and whistles to our resume, these visionaries we’ll end up working for are singularly focused and determined to make their vision a reality.
“Entrepreneurial spirit” is a personality trait that can’t be taught. Without its creative spark, much land, labor and capital would lay idle; some of the latter two might not even exist. There would be notably less progress without that applied imagination.
While untold numbers of these dreams are never realized, some are: the tastiest recipe comes together, biology and chemistry are merged perfectly into a life-saving medicine, etc. At that point a vital characteristic kicks in; intestinal fortitude.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, and you can start to understand why a high school classmate recently told me he’s “gone crazy and started a second business”; many times they are trading a regular paycheck for a world of uncertainty.
These producers deserve the utmost respect and admiration for taking the dive. Unfortunately, too many people don’t get it. “You chose to do that, so deal with the taxes and regulations” someone once told a friend of mine who co-owns not one, but two businesses.
These are probably the same type of folks behind some of the more misguided, domineering initiatives to have sprung up across the country in recent years.
In May, in an effort to deal with a growing homelessness problem, the Seattle city council unanimously passed a so-called head-tax of $275 on every employee of local businesses that earned at least $20 million annually. They wanted $500, but the mayor threatened a veto because apparently that was too high.
Seattle-based Amazon issued a veto threat of its own, implying that a second headquarters might not be the only company growth that happens outside the city due to its “hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses.”
A month later, the city repealed the measure.
A few years prior, the Emerald City boosting the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Even as this particular policy slips further into obsolescence due to automation and the fact that very few people support a family on such earnings, how insolent of a public body to commandeer the resources of those who risked their livelihood and financial solvency to get a new venture off the ground.
In addition to having their own elevated minimum wage, the D.C. city council recently raised by fivefold the revenue tax on Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing companies in order to provide funding for the government-run Metro transit system.
What type of reasoning concludes that one way to fix homelessness is to tax employment, the very activity that produces the income needed to obtain shelter? What kind of imperious mentality endorses taking from successful companies to give to a failing entity?
The irony with these ordinances is that the homelessness is exacerbated by restrictive zoning and a building code that is more than twice the size of Portland and Austin combined, and the overcharged Metro patronage is slipping in part because of safety and maintenance concerns.
This kind of foolish, authoritarian approach has infected other parts of the country as well.
In the Big Apple, Mayor Bill De Blasio and the city council are going another round with those same ride-sharers by capping new vehicle licenses and imposing upon them an industry-specific minimum wage. Even here in the Alamo City an ordinance was recently passed to coerce businesses to pay for employee sick days.
If politicians as high up as Sens. Cory Booker (D – N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) are so confident in their business ability that they’ll propose a jobs guarantee, why not strike out on their own, without the cushion of a taxpayer-supported slush fund?
Because just like many other officials and activists, they have scant, if any experience owning/running a business. It begs the question; where does all this misplaced overconfidence come from?
Innovators and producers don’t ask for our gratitude, but nor do they welcome such arrogant policy supported and enacted by those with only a fraction of their cojones. If these kinds of regulations continue to proliferate, the next big gadget or service could very well disappear from the future just like Marty McFly before his parents kissed.
Perhaps these bureaucrats and advocates could instead become productive members of society and put their money where their mouth is, like the investors in the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment did a couple years ago.
Led by former executive director Sister Patricia Daly, they spearheaded a shareholder drive to compel ExxonMobil to factor the “realities of climate change” into their policies. Sister Daly is currently on the advisory board of Jana Impact Capital fund, which along with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, is pushing Apple to “offer parents more tools” to help them monitor their kids’ activities on their products.
Or, they could follow Howard Schultz’ example.
Under his leadership, in an effort to “build the kind of company that … not only cares for its people but gives them opportunities to be their best,” Starbucks recently gave a healthy bump in pay to its employees, extended to most of them tuition reimbursement for an entire bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, and expanded parental and sick leave benefits.
If those avenues seem too daunting, they could open a lemonade stand and experience the wet blanket their ilk have thrown on pre-teen entrepreneurs.
Fans of “The Walking Dead” will recall the first things the survivors did after escaping the “biters”: gather food, set up shelter and scavenge fuel. For the sake of survival, we’ll always seek out these basic necessities before they’re presented to us. However, even the supply of these items has reached vast abundance and variety due to pioneering minds.
One friend of mine was recently called up by the ABC show “Shark Tank” to pitch his vision of “revolutionizing urban agriculture” by employing underutilized spaces like city-owned vacant lots and drainage areas, while my aforementioned classmate tells me he will soon be machining new cost-saving equipment that will “revolutionize” the energy industry.
We hear about heroes all the time: medics, teachers, first-responders, et al. These risk-taking creators of the future belong in the same conversation. Only they know the answer to the question with which Stossel ended his show: “who knows what’s coming next that I can’t even imagine?”