Did You Hear the One about the Entrepreneur?


When putting together a chapter on entrepreneurship and regulation for the Fraser Institute’s new book “Demographics and Entrepreneurship: Mitigating the Effects of an Aging Population,” one of the things that struck me was noticing again how entrepreneurial creative destruction needs less than a generation to execute a high-profile rise and fall. I came across a documentary on Netflix called “All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records” that took me back to the days of combing for Rush albums in vinyl long before I’d ever heard of Joseph Schumpeter, and before the world had heard of Napster—now itself one of the “things passed.”

Another thing that struck me was the was an uproarious anonymous-by-request message a friend sent when I issued a query to professors and the policy community about their research on regulations and their negative effects on entrepreneurship. “Wayne,” my correspondent said:

You have identified a great topic! Entrepreneurship is, indeed, the greatest danger to economic security, jobs, property and social stability. Regulation of entrepreneurial behavior is essential for protecting American workers and investors from the menace of new ideas and the changes that ensue. Every year we see entrepreneurs invading perfectly fine, well established markets to disrupt existing customer networks, production practices and supply chains.  Entrepreneurs claim to create jobs, but that is fake news. The reality is thousands of good, comfortable, and predictable jobs destroyed every year by reckless innovation and change.

Millions of farm workers (and countless mules) lost regular dependable jobs because of greedy entrepreneurs and inventors like Cyrus Field and John Deere. And how about the economic carnage brought about by that upstart Henry Ford? Skilled blacksmiths and harness makers earned good middle class incomes and could count on handing down their trades to their children and grand-children without worry about the future, but that opportunist Ford turned their world upside down.  And investors are at risk too. Think of the thousands of stockholders in solid, dependable companies like American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker Motors, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics, Gimbel’s Department Stores, National Sugar Refining, Underwood Typewriters, Bethlehem Steel, and Philco Appliances who saw their investments evaporate because of entrepreneurial interlopers! Despite our best regulation efforts, these insidious economic changes continue. Clearly better regulation is needed to stamp out the entrepreneurial spirit that infects our economy. 

See CEI’s press release on “Demographics and Entrepreneurship” here.