Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 10:56 am | Fair 56º

 
 
 

Tom Donohue: The Right to Risk and Be Rewarded at Heart of Free Enterprise System

What if failure was never an option in our country?

Thomas Edison might not have brought the world-changing advancement of electricity into our lives — he went through 1,000 failed attempts before achieving a successful prototype of the light bulb. Henry Ford might not have pioneered the assembly line and precipitated one of the most significant industrial transformations in history — his first two attempts to establish the Ford Motor Company collapsed under partner dispute and bankruptcy. Bill Gates might have missed out on important lessons, or even thrown in the towel, before founding Microsoft and helping make computing possible for the masses. His first venture was a flop.

Failure can be a critical ingredient of success. We need to preserve a culture that allows people to try, fall on their faces, get back up and try again. And when their risks pay off, that success should be rewarded.

The right to take a risk and to reap its rewards is at the heart of our free enterprise system. It has driven innovation throughout our history and helped build and sustain a competitive, resilient economy. It creates capital for businesses and consumers alike and produces jobs and opportunities for American workers.

But that right is under threat by some leaders — from the left and the right — who discount, disparage or distort the positive role of business in society today. It’s shocking how little many of our political leaders seem to understand the business system of this country, how capital is formed and multiplied, and how jobs are really created and paychecks are expanded.

Some politicians claim that business doesn’t really create jobs or build things. They promote the falsehood that success is a result of stepping on others and that wealth and profits are inherently evil. They wrongly believe that risk can be eliminated from our system without harming innovation, capital and entrepreneurship.

Successful businesses are a good thing. Businesses that do well almost always do good — like giving folks the dignity of a job, bettering their communities or giving to charities.

America needs successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople. It’s what drives stronger economic growth and puts people to work. It’s what keeps the American Dream alive and energizes our free enterprise system. It’s why we remain the envy of the world.

We need to remind ourselves, Congress, the White House and the American people what made this country great. The United States is a land of opportunity, where all individuals can develop an idea, pursue a dream, succeed beyond their wildest expectations and share opportunities with others.

And if at first they don’t succeed, they can try and try again.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >