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Give Credit to Entrepreneurs

Economic prosperity begins with these risk-takers.

Looking back at the past eight years of American economic prosperity, I feel bilked, bothered, and bewildered. I read and hear about all sorts of "heroes" taking credit for our happy circumstance. I find their reasons as suspect and self-serving as ancient mythologies. But unlike the mythologies of old that have a familiar pattern, the economic myths of today are diverse and run the gamut from the "Reagan Revolution" to the "Clinton Boom"--which reinforces my belief that to most people, a lie is the last resort. With politicians, it's first aid. Myths are the dreams of mankind. They are utterly strange and hauntingly familiar. The aboriginal people of Australia, for whom myths are today's reality, call the time they spend inventing explanations of their existence the dream time. Today, a legion of hired spin artists are dreaming up all kinds of theories to explain our unprecedented period of economic growth. President Clinton takes full credit. His Democratic partisan supporters are declaring this the Clinton Boom. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, not to be outdone, points to the influence of the Republican Congress and suggests that we are merely living an extension of the supply-side miracle of the Reagan Revolution. These simplistic ego-economics remind me of Sandy MacTavish's father. "Father! Father!" Sandy shouted on returning home from school. "I ran home behind the streetcar today and saved fifty cents in carfare." Whereupon the exasperated father slapped his son's cheek and shouted, "Spendthrift! Why didn't you run home behind a taxicab and save five bucks?" The economic success of the past eight years has little to do with politics. Sure, Alan Greenspan, Fed chairman, and his anti-inflation crusade played a part in our current business boom. It stabilized the currency. The real credit for our current prosperity, however, belongs to you, the leaders of American industry. It belongs to those of you who supplied entrepreneurial leadership. It belongs to those of you who believe and practice the Entrepreneur's Credo of the American Entrepreneurs Association that says: "I do not choose to be a common person. It is my right to be uncommon--if I can. I seek opportunity--not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole; I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of Utopia. I will not trade my freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid; to think and act for myself; to enjoy the benefit of my creations; and to face the world boldly and say: 'This, with God's help, I have done.' All this is what it means to be an entrepreneur." And while we're in a thankful mood, let's thank Microsoft's Bill Gates, and Next Computer Inc.'s Steve Jobs, and Oracle's Larry Ellison, and EDS' Ross Perot, and Lotus' Mitch Kapor, and Discovery Toys' Lane Nemeth, and Esprit's Doug Tompkins, and American Express' Fred Smith, and all the other entrepreneurially motivated manufacturing leaders who have blessed us with new, highly creative products; new, stimulating ideas; new, improved technologies; and, best of all, new and unlimited hope for the future. I salute those who dare to dream! I admire those who allow their minds to soar while their feet remain planted on firm ground. I envy those with the guts to go where man has never set foot before. I respect leaders who are tough-minded but fair, and self-inspired but evangelical in sharing their ideas. I thank those who put integrity before self interest. I applaud those who lead by example and who manage with their hearts as well as their heads. The United States of America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is also the cradle of Yankee ingenuity and entrepreneurial excellence. Harold Geneen, former chairman of ITT, explained the phenomenon this way: "The wave of the future in American business, it seems to me, is with the entrepreneurs! The day of the true entrepreneur seems to have arrived."

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