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A Lost Generation of Entrepreneurs

A Lost Generation of Entrepreneurs

Ron Hart is a syndicated columnist and humorist.

Recently released statistics say that the percentage of adults younger than 30 who own a private business is the lowest in a generation. Today only 3.6% own a stake in a private company, compared to 6.1% in 2010. Even more troubling, this number was 10.6% in 1989.

This trend of a lost generation of entrepreneurs has profound implications for the growth of our economy. John Davis, chair of the Families in Business Program at Harvard Business School, worries that this trend will cause the U.S. economy to be less vibrant. He calls the plunge in business ownership a "worrisome finding."

We have a generation averse to risk and hard work. More of them want a government job or a disability check. Forty years ago we rode dirt bikes and bumper cars, our popular rides of choice, at the county fair. Today, the most popular rides are those motorized carts at Wal-Mart.

It was once a source of Puritan pride to own a business. Now people can collect food stamps, unemployment and disability benefits. If Roman emperors had given their citizens such benefits, there would have been nobody around for Jesus to heal.

Why is the younger generation not starting businesses? The media, colleges, and populist leftist Democrats begrudge and demean those "terrible" free market capitalists. Obama's "You Didn't Build That" speech made palpable his disdain for business owners.

Maybe this generation has been raised as "bubble-wrapped kids." No bike riding (certainly not without a helmet and shin guards), no dodge ball in school, no playing in the neighborhood, no drinking through water hoses, and no talking to strangers. If you skin your knee, you are looking to sue someone. There is this compulsion not to engage in marginally risky childhood fun. We give 9th place ribbons and everyone gets to play. Are we raising a generation of wimps?

If we have something to fear, it is that we fear too much. Risk is good. Risk teaches lessons. Risk provides good things. Failure is necessary; it's a byproduct of risk and is not to be ridiculed. What deserves ridicule is not trying.

The massive student loan debts these kids come out of liberal colleges with might also impede their risk taking. They are told capitalism is evil and that somehow "making a difference in the world" involves a lame government bureaucracy job.

I've got news for you kids: It's hard to "change the world" when you are making $35,000 a year working in a cubicle at the IRS. Go start a business, provide a product people willingly buy, employ lots of people and enhance their lives. Create other millionaires in your wake. Then start a huge foundation that, in retirement, you can really use to change the world. Recycling in your cubicle and telling everyone about it isn't doing the same work as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

We have been importing many entrepreneurs who value the opportunity our country once represented. A comedian said his immigrant father came here to America from India ten years ago with only $35 in his pocket. Then he paused and said, "He had $4.6 million in stocks and bonds, so I guess what I am saying is that he was not big on carrying cash in his pocket."

Yet with the highest corporate tax rate in the world, the U.S. now looks less inviting to the world's risk-taking immigrants. If we lose them, we are really in trouble. It is critically important to our economy that we have people starting new businesses -- not only for employment, taxes and growth, but for the new ideas they generate. Think Apple, Google, oil fracking technologies and drug companies.

Instead of Henry Ford, who mass produced automobiles and whose family ran his company for years, the new American dreamer is a retired (after twenty years) public sector union worker who also gets a full retirement from his inner-city public school teaching job, whose father cashed in on the tobacco class action settlement, whose son faked an injury to qualify for disability, whose uncle got some of that sweet asbestos settlement money, and whose daughter works a cushy Pawnee, Indiana Parks Department job. And she's the go-getter in the family.

By Executive Order Obama legalizes six million illegal aliens, drawing accolades from the left. These illegals can now stay in America and realize the new American dream: getting a lawyer who advertises on the side of a bus to help you qualify for some of that sweet disability money.

Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator. Email Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com

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