Entrepreneurs: Leading the Way Out

Leading the Way Out

An Op/Ed By Greg Pesci

Entrepreneurs, free to pursue their economic dreams, built America! They are, and always have been, its creators of jobs, growth, and wealth.

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America:

"It may be said that, in the United States, there is no limit to the inventiveness of man to discover the ways of increasing wealth and to satisfy the public’s needs." He continued, "the primary reason for [America’s] rapid progress, their strength and greatness is their bold approach to industrial undertakings." What impressed De Tocqueville most about business in America was "not so much the marvelous grandeur of some undertaking as the innumerable multitude of small ones."

Data from the Census Bureau (Business Dynamics Statistics) demonstrate that since 1977 American entrepreneurs in firms less than five years old have been responsible for literally all the net job creation in this country. For more than 30 years, new companies have led job creation in America. Recently, Carl J. Schramm of the Kauffman Foundation stated, "new and young companies and the entrepreneurs that create them are the engines of job creation and eventual recovery." With 9.8 percent unemployment, if we want to create jobs in America we need to free up entrepreneurs and not burden them with increased taxes or regulation.

Especially encouraging during these hard times is evidence that past recessions have not prevented entrepreneurs from founding companies and creating jobs. Since 1977, America has averaged roughly 600,000 new firms formed each year. Through good times and bad, that number has remained fairly constant. Even more encouraging for today’s entrepreneurs is the fact that half of today’s Fortune 500 companies were founded in a recession or bear market.

In the 1970s, conventional wisdom said that America’s time as a vibrant, innovative economy had passed. We experienced Vietnam, Watergate, high interest rates, high unemployment, and double-digit inflation. We were told ours was a future of scarcity and sacrifice, and that what we really needed was increased government control and higher taxes (sound familiar?). President Carter presided over a period of general "malaise."

Yet, in the midst of this "malaise," a different future was being created. Entrepreneurs in the private sector were busy founding new companies and innovating. These entrepreneurs had the faith and guts to take action and pursue their dreams. Their innovations were a powerful force for leading America out of the malaise and into economic growth. Maybe you have heard of a few of the companies founded during this period when supposedly America’s best days had passed: Apple; FedEx; Microsoft; and Southwest Airlines. The efforts of these entrepreneurs have stood the test of time. All four of these companies were listed on Fortune’s 2009 List of the 10 Most Admired Companies in the world.

The efforts of today’s entrepreneurs hold the same promise for America’s future. They are not looking to the government to create jobs or waiting for others to do so. They are out there, by the hundreds of thousands, creating jobs for themselves and others. These Americans are generating the innovations that will refresh and renew our economy. A future "Google" is being created right now.

Following are just two of the reasons I believe this to be true. First, entrepreneurship is not just for the young. This is an important fact for an aging America. A Kauffman Foundation report states that the average age of U.S.-born tech company founders is 39 years old. More than twice as many founders were older than fifty than were younger than twenty-five. Between 1996 and 2008, more people between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-four started businesses than did people between the ages of twenty and thirty-four. These "seasoned" entrepreneurs bring considerable life experience and wisdom to the tasks of innovating and starting new businesses that create jobs.

Second, despite the sometimes politically charged discussions surrounding it today, history demonstrates that immigration has fostered entrepreneurship in America. If we can settle on a reasonable and enforceable immigration policy, it can continue to do so into the future. Many of the world’s best and brightest still want to come here and we should welcome them. Immigrants are much more likely to work as entrepreneurs, creating small businesses and associated jobs. In every census from 1880 to 1990, immigrants were more likely to be self-employed than natives. And they are starting a disproportionate number of high tech, science-driven companies. A recent study from Duke and UC Berkeley found that 52% of engineering and technology startup companies founded from 1995 to 2005 in Silicon Valley had one or more immigrants as a key founder. These new immigrants remind us of what is so great about this country, and why our ancestors came here.

Perhaps President Reagan best described how entrepreneurs can lead this country to a better day:

Entrepreneurs have always been leaders in America. They led the rebellion against excessive taxation and regulation. They and their offspring pushed back the frontier, transforming the wilderness into a land of plenty. Their knowledge and contributions have sustained us in wartime, [and] brought us out of recessions... Governments reduce deficits by controlling spending and stimulating new wealth, wealth from investments of brave people with hope for the future, trust in their fellow man, and faith in God.

Entrepreneurs will lead the way out. Bring on the entrepreneurs!

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

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The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!