Trump Awakens the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Stephen Michael MacLean endorses The Donald
Businessmen don’t understand politics. Success in the marketplace doesn’t necessarily follow in the political arena. Early criticism of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were variations on this theme, from the first day he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy. How that tune has changed. Trump’s business acumen may prove his greatest political asset to an America that elects him president.
He may be learning on the fly the science of politics, but Trump instinctively comprehends the craft of intuiting the people’s discontent and offering them an alternative to the Capitol Hill duopoly. Whether on illegal immigration, terrorist threats, endless wars, or disappearing jobs, Trump reads the American mood like the practised pols of old. What he lacks in sophistication he more than compensates with gut instinct.
His outsider status is Trump’s self-proclaimed ace card — he’s not a politician but he understands how they operate, since he’s been negotiating with them all his life as a mega-developer. It’s these transformative skills that he exploits in his White House bid. ‘I’ve been very lucky. I’ve led a great life,’ he told an audience Sunday in Greeley, Colorado. ‘Now I want to give back to the country which has been so good to me.’
The author of The Art of the Deal is boosting his message of ‘make America great again’ out on the stump. ‘I’ve spent a career finding the untapped potential in projects and in people,’ he advertises. ‘Everywhere I look in this country all I see is untapped potential, waiting to be set free.’
Trump is blessed with the entrepreneurial eye. Such perspicacity is sorely needed when myopia restricts the economic vision of professional politicians to high taxes, onerous regulation, and wealth transfers. Small wonder GDP growth is stunted at no more than 2 per cent and workforce participation at a record low.
What America needs is an entrepreneur in the White House. For the ills facing the nation, the best antidote is a strong economy. No entrepreneurs, no marketplace, in NYU economist Israel Kirzner’s estimation; it is ‘how markets work’.
‘It is only when entrepreneurship is introduced that we begin to appreciate how and why markets work,’ Kirzner explains. ‘Without the possibility of entrepreneurship, no genuine explanation for market co-ordination is possible.’ Politicians, by nature, aren’t risk-takers: they’re bureaucrats. Competition, price signals, marshalling scarce resources for optimal benefit, consumer satisfaction — totems in the business world — have no meaning for them. The administrative state and its abysmal failure of central planning accounts for the sorry record of global economics.
Trump the political outsider kens the inside score. ‘I’m tired of politicians telling Americans to defer their dreams to another day when they really mean to another decade.’ He grasps that this is the crucial make-or-break time. ‘America is tired of waiting. The moment is now; it’s not going to happen again.’ And while Trump may not have been schooled in Public Choice, he is no stranger to the tenet that elected officials’ private goals are often at odds with the public good. ‘All we have to do is stop believing in our failed politicians and start believing in each other and in our country.’
In essence, change, a Washington invariable that politicians don’t produce as they redistribute the wealth of others. For Kirzner, the innovator who escapes the status quo is key to economic growth. ‘When he acts to seize an opportunity, he is not seizing a “given” opportunity; he is, at that moment, declaring that opportunity to exist.’
Trump’s entire campaign is founded on seeing this opportunity for renewal — for revolution — that politicians in both parties ignored. Arguably, it is when Trump acts the politician that he loses his touch. Protectionism, for all its emotive appeal, is the classic populist ploy. But sound economics teaches that barriers to trade, in the long run, benefit producers at the expense of consumers. When enacted across the board, everyone suffers from the lack of competition affecting price, quality, and choice. We are all, in the end, consumers.
And while Trump hasn’t abandoned his corporate challenge of 35 per cent tariffs on offshored goods and services, he has introduced more viable economic incentives to entice both domestic and foreign investment, such as lower corporate taxes, regulatory repeal, and rooting out currency manipulation, whether it be China or the Federal Reserve. All needful reforms, but they only clear the way for the entrepreneur, the true engineer of economic growth.
Trump the salesman knows his product and the craft of the staged roll-out. Today he is selling the American entrepreneur. He established rapport by touting his personal experience as a Manhattan developer. Then he called upon the States to ditch policies hostile to growth and compete amongst themselves for the business opportunities fleeing abroad.
Now he encourages the American people to unleash their own entrepreneurial instincts. ‘There is no challenge too great, no dream outside of our reach,’ Trump assured his Greeley audience. ‘Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. It can.’
Stephen Michael MacLean is a freelance researcher, residing in Canada. He blogs as The Organic Tory at the Disraeli-Macdonald Institute
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I was most impressed by Trump’s suggestion for a programme of infrastructural renewal across America. All businessmen know that one must speculate to accumulate, and by spending (initially) on an army of workers to repair the railways and roads, you will – in the long run – garner huge rewards, both for business and the public purse. This is not Left-wing at all: it is profoundly Right-wing. It is communitarian, in that everyone wants to get from A to B on clean trains, smooth roads, and bridges that stand up; and self-interested, in that it will enable the highways to carry America’s trade more effectively – and Britain’s exports to the American market, post-Brexit.
Secondly, full marks to the remarkable Ann Coulter for her squaring up to the news media on U.S. election night – taking on various media operatives, including ITV’s (very nice – and much nicer than the rest of the media) Julie Etchingham; Ann Coulter, in black gloves, hands on hips, pitching and punching out the Trump message. ITV’s Julie seemed a bit shocked by this approach, and replied: “You’re making me put my hands on my hips, too!”
It was also interesting to hear the views of an African-American Pastor, Pastor Davies. Speaking from New York, the Pastor – smiling, diplomatic, engaging – rather confounded the media view that the whole election was a rustbelt revolution, mobilising “nationalistic whites, rural and religious people”. Instead, he informed us that he and his followers had been with Trump from the very beginning. Perhaps the Pastor did not like the prospect of more liberal nihilism and the continuing decay of urban American life? Perhaps people of all races and backgrounds saw in Donald J. Trump the idea of “the strong man” – a Citizen Kane, a Ronald Reagan? If it was a Democrat debacle, the Democratic Party only has itself to blame: by wheeling out Hillary, they offered nothing but a re-run of old, tired ideas – a scenario which could be likened to the British Labour Party bringing back the Blairs and hoping to win a modern election.
Finally, why this absurd “how-could-it-have-happened” soul-searching from the pundits and papers? If the media (positively funereal in their tone since the election) had bothered to go out and ask people, or spend some time in the towns and suburbs, rather than in the media bubble, they might have seen the mood shifting over the last few months. At present, they are (still) pulling Trump to pieces, mulling over and endlessly dissecting what he is going to do/what he has said etc. My advice is: hold on… late him take office first, and that won’t be until next year. Why not sit back, pour yourself a Harvey Wallbanger; put on a CD of some soothing Samuel Barber (a great American composer) and – in the words, no doubt, of the typical U.S. Republican: Take a reality check!