Over my career I’ve worked for several employers and in each case local, state and federal governments had a say in my wages and my benefits. Eventually most of my employers came to the conclusion I’d be happier working for myself or as Donald Trump would say, “You’re fired!” Since then I’ve started several companies and in each case I was fortunate because the government had no problem with me not getting paid. In fact, in EVERY case I worked for free to get my company started – sometimes for two years. More recently I’ve been hearing more and more rhetoric about how we need to protect ‘workers’ from themselves and that’s got me really concerned for entrepreneurs and small business owners. We need to allow them the chance to fail – just as we need to allow them the chance to succeed.
This week Hillary Clinton railed against the sharing economy and the entrepreneurs and business owners who are taking advantage of the opportunity it provides. Uber has given millions of people across the globe the ability to start their own businesses. They can work when and where they want. They have total freedom. In fact 60% of them work for Uber’s competitors as well. This ‘ride-sharing’ economy that Uber pioneered is become more and more perfect in matching consumers and small business owners, but the biggest concern for politicians like Mrs. Clinton is the fact that these ‘workers’ fall outside of their control. Entrepreneurs and business owners can decide how much to charge and how many hours per day to work. Progressives fought for decades to have the ability to dictate the number of hours a worker could work and how much they could be paid. They will fight hard to preserve this power.
It makes me sick to hear venture capitalists like Fred Wilson (whom I have always had great respect for) take Mrs. Clinton’s side in this debate. What the New York Business Journal failed to mention was that Fred is an investor in two of Uber’s primary competitors. He’s been a longtime critic of Uber suggesting they demonstrated, “ruthless execution combined with total arrogance“. If politicians had their way the only car you could order would be Yellow®. If Uber’s success is any measure both consumers and drivers prefer their cars to be black.
I’m of the view that every American citizen should have the ability to free themselves from the bonds of their employers and their government. If my 13 year old can start his own business, everyone should have that right. I truly believe that. Allowing entrepreneurs the freedom to fail is a TOTAL requirement of entrepreneurship. Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Clinton have forgotten this important concept. If our safety nets are fool proof; if we prevent people from taking the sort of risks that result in failure will anyone have a chance of real success: we’re ALL doomed to fail. Imagine having to pitch your startup idea to your local city counsel for approval. Uber, Lyft, Postmates, TaskRabbit and Instacart are amazing experiments. Some of them will succeed and some will fail, but we should let entrepreneurs and small business owners do business with these companies as they choose. We shouldn’t let the government intervene. We shouldn’t let the Democrats reclassify entrepreneurs, small business owners and contractors as ‘workers’. We ALL work, but the ‘worker’ is a term better associated with Marx and not Reagan.