Amy wants to open a flower shop in San Francisco when she grows up. She’s twelve years old and incredibly ambitious. As I sat listening to this young girl explain the design of her future store–high ceilings, yellow shutters, ornate pots, and a garden out back–I was beyond impressed. At a very young age, Amy had discovered something she loved. And not only that, but she had begun to figure out how to turn it into a job she would be happy to work hard at every day. She would toss her allowance into a small piggy bank next to her bed every week. On the bank’s side was written “Amy’s Flower Shop Savings.” At the end of each month, she would empty the money into a large plastic bag and take it to the bank to deposit with her dad.
In her spare time, Amy draws pictures of the store she imagines. She spends hours looking at different kinds of flowers, deciding what does and doesn’t look good together. She studies vases and ponders which ones would make perfect homes for which flowers. At twelve years old, she has found a passion for something, the kind of passion some people spend their whole lives hoping to discover.
Amy’s dream is the American dream. She wants success. She wants to spend her days immersed in something she loves, to go home every night feeling like she has accomplished something of value. She wants to work hard, to grow a business she can be proud of, and to produce something that makes people smile and brightens their days.
These are the dreams that build a great nation.
When I step onto television sets to talk about the challenges that face small businesses, I think of young people like Amy. I think of their passion, their drive, and their optimism. Taxes, overregulation, Obamacare, bureaucratic burdens–these things certainly won’t make Amy’s job any easier. These burdens discourage many, bankrupt some, and cause others to pick up and move to cities and states less likely to cripple their ability to grow and thrive. The paths for small business owners is a hard one, and in many parts of the country, it gets harder and harder each day.
What would our country look like if the tax and regulatory burdens everywhere became so high that future generations couldn’t contemplate the flower shop or pizzeria or barber shop they dream about running? What would we stand for, as a nation? What would we inspire?
I often think of my great grandparents and the way they spoke about America, this place where big dreams were possible no matter how much money you had in your pockets to start with. They loved this country because it gave them a shot to be the best they could be. My grandpa used to say, “Figure out what you want to do with your life and get to it. You’re in the best place in the world to make it happen.”
If future generations can’t say the same, we will have lost ourselves. We will have lost what makes this country great. We will have lost the reason so many flocked here with hopes to build something they could call their own. For the sake of kids everywhere, and their big dreams, we must make sure that doesn’t happen.
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