What if our politicians looked more like entrepreneurs? | Opinion


Politicians struggle fiercely to tackle the kinds of challenges entrepreneurs face every day. As political leaders ignore how entrepreneurs create value for consumers, jobs for employees, and returns for investors, I can’t help but wish for entrepreneurial intervention – and soon.

Having taught thousands of potential entrepreneurs, I can attest to how successful those who succeed prioritize actions, muster limited resources, and craft results that they expect to be held accountable for.

Faced with similar uncertainties and constraints, politicians tend to prioritize their own re-elections. Dividing the body politic at a time when most Americans yearn for unity, they have stoked outrage around divisive narratives. By bringing together coalitions of voters (by race, age, gender and ideology), they seek re-election. And why not? Such a formula is known to keep incumbents in office 95% of the time.

The contrast between entrepreneurs seeking to delight clients and politicians seeking to secure power is too stark to ignore. By simply asking “cui bono”, for example, no entrepreneur would prioritize “funding the police”, “dismantling the nuclear family” or “paying for repairs” for past grievances. Neither would any entrepreneur allow the enrichment of cartels for sex trafficking, importing fentanyl and transporting unaccompanied minors to US cities struggling to recover from a pandemic.

Thus, rather than amplifying grievances, promoting victimization or the division of sows, entrepreneurs would favor actions where the value of the benefits greatly exceeds their cost. Right now, that would lead to four areas of focus, each of which already enjoys significant tailwinds:

  1. Universal school choice: As the most pressing social justice issue of the 21st century, entrepreneurs would get all of our kids back to school, pay our best teachers more, remove our bad ones, eliminate tenure, and facilitate the development of charter schools. Indeed, entrepreneurs would regard as professional misconduct the persistent failure to repair what is so clearly at the heart of social injustice.
  2. Extended Opportunity Zones: With downtown economic growth also being a source of social ills, entrepreneurs would obtain tax-efficient capital for downtown development and provide police protection to poor communities. Although beyond the scope of this editorial, practical entrepreneurs would know that without both, economic development – with all of its social implications – will remain elusive.
  3. Affordable housing: Because housing shortages are largely the result of government interference (see Thomas Sowell’s “The housing boom and collapse”, 2010), smart entrepreneurs would ease rent controls, regulations and restrictions to allow free market efficiency to reassert itself. This would not only increase the stock of available housing; it would also begin to tackle the corruption that plagues poorly managed cities.
  4. Works: Since the “relocation” of manufacturing activity has enormous potential for job creation (as it increases our national security), savvy entrepreneurs would immediately move to repatriate strategic supply chains.

To avoid a repeat of the grandiose and ill-conceived launch of the $ 22 trillion war on poverty in the 1960s, many entrepreneurs would insist on best practice disciplines. Beginning with understanding the mistakes of unsuccessful attempts at social engineering, they would replace the search to remedy any injustice suffered by past generations with an opportunity for their descendants. Thus, they would give priority to schools, disadvantaged neighborhoods, housing and employment.

Setting big goals, however, is just the start. Achieving superior results depends on adhering to proven management disciplines, including:

  1. To treat inflation as an unfair tax on those who are least able to pay it.
  2. Understand that debt is a mortgage on future generations.
  3. Agree that local orientation works better than “central” control.
  4. Demand this results be measured by deliverables on time and within budget.

In other words, entrepreneurs, unlike those politicians who neither paid nor managed a project, would avoid today’s misguided instincts to borrow and spend as if it were an answer. to the problems and opportunities of society.

Sending the entrepreneurial to Congress may be America’s last hope for repairing education, the job market, the economy, and housing. If citizens want a sustainably free, secure and prosperous society as our population grows, diversifies and is increasingly interdependent, identity politics must give way to the practical disciplines of entrepreneurial leadership.

And that can’t come soon enough.

Joel Peterson is the author of “Entrepreneurial Leadership: The Art of Starting New Businesses, Inspiring Others and Running Things”, management professor Robert L. Joss and former president of JetBlue Airways.

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