I recently read an old Seth Godin post in which he made a distinction between capitalists and industrialists.
Among other things, he said “Industrialists are not capitalists. Capitalists take risks. They see an opportunity, an unmet need, and then they bring resources to bear to solve the problem and make a profit. Industrialists seek stability instead. Industrialists work to take working systems and polish them, insulate them from risk, maximize productivity and extract the maximum amount of profit.”
He went on to say “Industrialists don’t mind government regulations if they write them, don’t particularly like competition or creativity or change. They are maximizers of the existing status quo.“
And the final quote of relevance… “Today’s industrialists define our economy, but they offer very little promise for tomorrow.”
He was calling them capitalists and industrialists, but he may as well have called them conservatives and liberals.
Conservatives often get accused of supporting only big business, but this is actually the opposite of the truth. Conservatives, like capitalists, know that innovation comes from competition, and they’re constantly attempting to level the playing field and create an environment friendly to start-ups.
When businesses become big and secure enough to be labeled “big business,” they tend to be more interested in maintaining and controlling the environment. They’re large enough that they think they can control the field, and they start building relationships with those in government so they can help write the laws and regulations – which inevitably help businesses and practices that are versus those that do not yet exist and are unknown.
This is how one can account for so many prominent business leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos (to name just a few) who support Democrats who, in rhetoric, are seeking to make life more difficult for those very people.
But these leaders know that their relationships with elected Democrats enable them to write laws and regulations that, on their face, make things possibly more difficult for big business, but more importantly, make it impossible for small businesses and start-ups to come in, innovate and compete with the big players.
It’s absolutely true that conservatives want less government and fewer regulations and restrictions, but it’s because they know that with fewer rules, creativity and innovation will reign.
Like Gates started in his own garage, who knows what business idea is percolating in a garage somewhere out there that will change the way we do everything – just like Gates and Jobs did before them.
Our government is writing new regulations by the minute. In fact, I’m quite sure none of us makes it through any day without breaking some law somewhere that we’re not even aware exists. How could we not with so many rules?
The key is not to try and control and manage the economy but free it and let it determine its own direction. When that happens, we all benefit with more jobs and better products.
It makes some uncomfortable, but the fact is that our economy is at it’s best when we can’t predict where it’s going to take us.