The False Hope of Government
Last night we launched the Czech edition of Mad Genius. It’s wonderful to be back in Prague and there was a great crowd in the convention hall to discuss some concepts from the book and how they apply to creating wealth in the new economy. I thought you’d find it interesting if I shared some of the discussion with you.
One of the reasons I love working in Czech Republic, Slovakia, and other countries in this part of the world is the passion of the people here. There really is a voracious appetite for success and a desire for learning. That’s the good news.
On the other side, there are two perceptions here – two premises – that end up holding a lot of people back.
The first of these is an over reliance on government…
People here still look to the government to deliver their prosperity and success. That’s a big mistake, and one you also see in the U.K., U.S. and many other places.
The folly of this premise is being demonstrated by the current presidential election back in the States. Take a look at the fierce debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on who would bring back manufacturing, create more jobs, and prevent jobs from leaving. This is nothing more that an exercise in delusion, bad ideas, and asking the wrong questions. The game has changed and both Trump and Clinton are still operating on old paradigms and faulty premises.
Yes it’s true that there are factories in places like Mexico and China that pay workers less and can produce items cheaper than the U.S. And it’s true that some trade agreements have caused some jobs to relocate. But none of that has impacted manufacturing as much as the reality that the entire manufacturing model has changed. Things like 3D printing, automation, and advancing technology have blown up the entire process.
Let me give you an example. I’m working with a biotech company that owns their own factory. They employ 400 workers there. They’ve just completed a new factory that increases their capacity to five times greater than the old factory. Because of automation, the new place needs just 12 employees. (Remember, to produce five times as much.)
No one “stole” those 388 jobs and no one is going to “bring them back.”
They have disappeared because they are simply no longer necessary. (Fortunately this particular company is expanding rapidly, so they were able to shift those employees to other jobs in the organization.)
Attempting to bring back those manufacturing jobs is as futile and misguided as trying to restore all those jobs for printing press typesetters, travel agents, and the guys who used to deliver blocks of ice for your refrigerator. Those jobs are gone forever. Poof.
But this isn’t a popular truth that people want to hear…
Rather than face a difficult reality, many people would rather hear a reassuring falsehood. And nobody sells false hope better than centralized governments.
As I told you in the book, governments cannot create prosperity. At best, they can facilitate an environment that nurtures it. More often, they squander or actually eliminate prosperity through misguided policies and bad ideas. Like trying to recreate jobs the free market economy has proven are no longer viable.
Certainly governments can protect workers from exploitation. They can create incentives that cause companies to locate there. And they can build tax codes that make companies want to stay in their respective countries.
But governments don’t create real jobs in the economy. (Other than when they go to war, and that isn’t the kind we’re looking for.) They don’t even create the economy. And they most certainly don’t provide prosperity for their citizens. Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies offer that opportunity.
What I told the crowd here last night – and I’m telling you now – is stop looking for your government to make you successful. They don’t have the ability to do that. You’re giving away your power and it will keep you broke.
You have to take full and personal responsibility for your own prosperity.
Are you willing to do that?
Next post, we’ll explore the second erroneous premise – one that can keep you from reaching the success you’re seeking.
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