The driving force behind this site is promoting a culture of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.
As I like to say: not everyone should be an entrepreneur because not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but a lot more people should be entrepreneurs than are currently entrepreneurs, and I’m here to do a little hand-holding along the way.
On Tuesday night, I was thrilled to see Democrats win back the House of Representatives, and tweeted “If you like your comprehensive affordable health insurance, you can keep your comprehensive affordable health insurance (for 2 more years).” In fact, the title of this blog post was going to be, “you have two more years to start a business and receive affordable, comprehensive health insurance.”
And then I remembered, isn’t there still a Republican lawsuit trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act? There sure is!
Does regulatory uncertainty matter or not, and why?
There has, historically, been a straightforward argument made by business-oriented politicians on both sides of the aisle: private enterprise is discouraged when people are unable to make reliable predictions about the future.
Of course, nothing is entirely predictable (ask the dwindling number of stable owners in New York City), but a steady policy hand is best suited to encourage the private sector to put its capital to work in an inherently risky world, and constant policy gyrations scare off anyone trying to make long-term plans. You can find this argument deployed whenever a city tries to raise the minimum wage, enact fair scheduling laws, or provide paid family leave to employees.
But today, the Republican Party has adopted a completely different view towards business formation. Entrepreneurs are extended health insurance one year at a time and one (shrinking) open enrollment period at a time, while a legal effort is coordinated across the country to make sure that this is the last year they’ll have access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance. Or if not this year, next year. Or if not next year, the following.
How could anyone make plans under these conditions? How could anyone start a business? How could anyone start a family?
We only see the businesses that are created
In the finance industry one of the most important red flags to watch for is “survivorship bias.” In the most flagrant cases, a mutual fund company might only report the 10-year performance of its funds that are still operating after 10 years, concealing the lackluster results of all the funds that have already been closed due to underperformance.
The decade-long sabotage of the Affordable Care Act has left us with a version of the same problem. We see all the businesses that have been created by entrepreneurs who have had the confidence to strike out on their own, knowing they’ll have access to affordable comprehensive health insurance whether they succeed or fail, but we don’t see the businesses that would have been formed if the entire country hadn’t been subjected to the Republican deluge of lawsuits, appeals, and legislative attempts to strip that protection from entrepreneurs.
Even employees should root for entrepreneurs
When I write about this problem there’s always a commenter or two who insists that it’s actually good that only young, healthy single men start businesses, and that the old, the sick, the pregnant, or the female should just keep working at their jobs and forget about entrepreneurship. So let me make a case to the employees, as well.
You don’t have to ever start a business to benefit from other folks starting businesses.
Maybe you’ll be a customer: if one of your coworkers quits to start a secondhand jewelry store, maybe you’ll buy some jewelry from her.
Maybe you’ll be an employee: if the jewelry store gets successful enough, your former coworker might hire you away.
And even if you never see your former coworker again, maybe you’ll be able to extract a raise from your employer sooner if they see your coworkers leaving to strike out on their own.
The media sometimes has a deliberately blinkered view of private enterprise. The so-called “small businesses” you sometimes see interviews with are inevitably Midwestern jet-ski dealerships or insurance salesmen with dozens of employees, while the “entrepreneurs” are Silicon Valley startups with millions in venture capital.
But those cliches are not what entrepreneurship has ever really looked like. Entrepreneurs are mostly just normal people trying to make a little more money than they spend, day in and day out. Some of them succeed spectacularly and some of them fail miserably, but in a world without universal access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance, we’re never going to have the opportunity to find out what we’re missing.