Obama: Hope and Change or Duck and Cover?
The electorate, in its wisdom, just handed the entire apparatus of federal government over to the control of a single political party. The disaster that ensued when this happened eight years ago - and just about every time before regardless of which party held the whip hand - might lead one to pessimism. But before hunkering down, a brief pause is in order to acknowledge those good things that surely mark Obama's victory.
First and undeniable is the positive impact that this man of mixed ancestry will have on race relations. For those on both the left and right who denigrate the melting pot, here it is writ large for all the world to see. Born of immigrant and native, half black and half white, rising from poverty to prominence punching the ticket of education and pluck, one could hardly ask for a better symbol of what makes this country great. We surely need more Obamas, perhaps ones that choose engineering or medicine over the law and politics, but more nonetheless.
And whatever the Pelosi-Reid juggernaut may do to sell the opportunity society down the river of the nanny state, Obama's victory stands testament to the truth that in America every door is open to anyone who makes good choices in pursuit of a dream. Professional racists from David Duke to Al Sharpton had best find another racket; theirs has run its course.
Perhaps of less importance though meaningful to those who value communications, it will be a relief to have a President who can speak English. We may not always like what he has to say and will often puzzle over his grand vagaries, but at least we won't have to cringe every time he opens his mouth.
But cringe we must as we watch this slow motion train wreck barrel down on the economy. As a person whose job it is to fuel innovation, I can only expect life on the front lines to get harder. The entrepreneurs we back take outsized risks pursuing disproportionate rewards. How is this going to work in a culture that demonizes disproportionate rewards as the government shifts into overdrive to tax them away?
What forces will buffet the limited millions we use to build tomorrow's winners when the printing press floods the market with countless trillions to prop up yesterday's losers?
How much capital will be left for the public to invest in the next Genzyme or Google after it emerges from the VC incubator if all the money is sucked up bailing out dysfunctional banks, bankrupt automotive companies, uneconomic ethanol plants, and reckless consumers?
And by what avenue will our fellow citizens participate in tomorrow's growth opportunities with an IPO market that has been crushed and driven offshore in the name of protecting us from the next Enron?
My constituents, the entrepreneurs who invent and deliver progress, have no lobbyists in Washington. You cannot see the people they hope to employ nor hear their plans for change over the shouts of the entrenched entitled. If we make it a national goal to stamp out income inequality irrespective of its source, what happens when we succeed? No force of nature can make these rare and intrepid individuals quit their day jobs in hopes of striking it rich if you promise them that they can't keep what they win. Just as they abandoned Europe to come here, where will they go next?
My investors can as easily aim their money at new venture creation as seek safety in tax-free municipal bonds. This means that their capital can go to work building transformative jobs that create a surplus to fuel future investment or finance current municipal consumption that will ultimately have to be paid back by future taxpayers. Which will it be in the age of Obama?
Turn away talent at our borders fearing foreigners seeking American jobs, but don't be shocked when those jobs follow them home. Do it long enough and they will eventually stop coming except perhaps as tourists to spend the profits they earned building companies somewhere else.
Pass all the laws you want to punish greedy corporations as you squeeze the wicked five percent, but don't be surprised if the profits you hoped to tax and spread around evaporate or take flight. These people didn't get rich by being stupid. President-elect Obama has eloquently given us ample warning to dodge the bullet of his victory even if we have the magnanimity to celebrate those positive aspects of his success.