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The Lobbyist and the Entrepreneur

Last week, Glenn Reynolds (the great Instapundit) remarked that “when lobbying pays better than any other investment” you end up with a decline in entrepreneurship. 

Indeed, recent data shows that start-up businesses are on the decline.  The Daily Signal recently reported, “During the Carter administration, 14 percent of U.S. companies were start-ups. That rate declined by one percentage point during the Reagan years, two points during the recession of the George H.W. Bush presidency, held steady under Bill Clinton, dropped a percentage point under George W. Bush, and then dropped two full points during the first term of President Obama.”

As Reynolds suggests, it’s not just the corporate environment that becomes a safe bet, but its marriage with government.  Not only does lobbying become a better investment, but risk-takers and entrepreneurs are harshly judged and punished. 

One example of this new value system is seen in the Arizona governor’s race.  Long-time lobbyist Fred DuVal (Democrat) and Cold Stone Creamery partner and CEO Doug Ducey (Republican) are in a close race.  Other than party affiliation, there’s a clear-cut difference between DuVal, who chose wealth via the government teat and Ducey who chose the path of entrepreneurship.  When Republicans in the primary started attacking Ducey for the unpredictable nature of franchise businesses I realized just how bad America has fallen from its founding. 

Last year, investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel taught a course at Stanford.  Many of the ideas he discussed are in his new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.  During one class, Thiel made an excellent point on the importance of risk-takers in America’s history:

Doing startups for the money is not a great idea. Perhaps doing startups to be remembered or become famous is a better motive. Perhaps not. A better motive still would be a desire to change the world. The U.S. in 1776-79 was a startup of sorts. What were the Founders motivations? There is a large cultural component to the motivation question, too. In Japan, entrepreneurs are seen as reckless risk-takers. The respectable thing to do is become a lifelong employee somewhere. The literary version of this sentiment is “behind every fortune lies a great crime.” Were the Founding Fathers criminals? Are all founders criminals of one sort or another?

As Thiel suggests as the new “respectable” profession, Fred DuVal has boomeranged between lobbying and government for over 30 years, parlaying one job into another.  Meanwhile, Democrats continue the ludicrous anti-free market narrative against Ducey.  Bret Baier of Fox News recently called attention to the lengths Democrats will go to push this silly narrative.

Negative political ads are everywhere these days but now one PAC has been called out for attacking a Republican candidate for governor in Arizona.

The ad accuses Doug Ducey former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery of using quote — “dishonest business practices” that caused franchise owners to lose everything.

But these sad folks seen in the ad have never run an ice cream shop.

They are, in fact, actors posing for stock photos.

As the Washington Free Beacon first reported, the two women seen in the ad come up in a search of “sad woman” on Getty Images a photo subscription site.

One gentleman can be found by searching “mature man.”

The Democratic Governor’s Association provided funding for that ad.

So, does the future belong to the rule-makers and lobbyists like DuVal rather than the risk-takers like Ducey?  Again, I turn to Peter Thiel.  In his 2011 National Review piece, he wrote,

I wonder whether the endless fake cultural wars around identity politics are the main reason we have been able to ignore the tech slowdown for so long. However that may be, after 40 years of wandering, it is not easy to find a path back to the future. If there is to be a future, we would do well to reflect about it more. The first and the hardest step is to see that we now find ourselves in a desert, and not in an enchanted forest.

I suspect that the Left wants Americans to remain in the desert.  They long for a society that not only punishes the risk-takers to the point of despair, but one where every person’s livelihood is dependent on the government – and lobbyists – to pick winners and losers.  It’s almost poetic that the story of the lobbyist and the entrepreneur is playing out in the Arizona desert.

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