Friday, April 14, 2006

A Nation Of Entrepreneurs

A Nation Of Entrepreneurs

America is a nation of entrepreneurs, as a new Harris Interactive survey of over 2,000 adults reveals:
  • 66% of American adults have considered starting a business.
  • 55% see owning a business as the work they'd prefer to do late in life (vs. 42% for public service).
  • 72% of those 55 and up say you're never too old to start a business
  • The main reason cited for started a business is doing what you love (31%), followed by being your own boss (22%), both of which significantly exceed making money (17%)
For hundreds of years, America has attracted entrepreneurs, and we need to keep doing so to succeed in today's global economy. While there are a lot of strong economic reasons for coming to America to pursue your dreams, I think that one of the most important is the fact that entrepreneurship *is* the American dream, and is part of the collective psyche.

Far from the money-grubbing robber barons written of by their critics, Americans are following their passion and their desire for freedom and independence, and that's something we should be proud of.

P.S. How would the poll results differ if you conducted them in France? Or China? Or India? Discuss.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Republican Bogeyman

The Republican Bogeyman
My disgust with the Democrats' complete lack of political sense is well-known. Here's yet another egregious example.

I happened to peruse the MyDD.com site (it was mentioned in an Economist article), and I happened to run across this little gem on "New" African-American leadership.

The essential claim of the piece is that stories about black Republicans and centrist democrats should be viewed with great skepticism. The author, pollster Tom Grayman, uses as his example Cory Booker, the leading candidate for mayor of Newark (though of course he misspells his first name as "Corey," a mistake that 5 seconds of fact-checking would have uncovered!) .

Full disclosure: Cory and I were at Stanford as undergrads at the same time. I didn't know Cory well, but I met him a number of times, and a number of my good friends know him very well and think highly of him.

Grayman sneers, "When you read any profile of Booker, however, or hear him speak, it becomes clear that there is not that much which is new about his perspective on government's role in the lives of black Americans -- or all Americans. What all the hoopla seems to come down to is that he supports educational vouchers for private schools (a topic I'll address in a later post). That's pretty much it."

Well let's see...Cory actually supports a policy innovation that over 60% of black voters agree with...but is opposed by the Congressional Black Caucus like the Republicans would oppose a law allowing gays to get married while burning Bibles wrapped in American flags. To me, having the courage to go against the establishment to help the people seems like a new perspective.

Grayman continues: "What's really "new" about Booker with respect to other black politicians are his marketing skills. First, upon returning from Yale Law School, Booker, who grew up in an all-white suburban neighborhood, moved into one of the city's worst housing projects."

Maybe it's just me, but isn't marketing part of politics? This contempt for marketing and other such trappings of the evil world of business seems horrifically misguided and self-defeating. If marketing is bad, why even bother with television commercials and rallys? Just write a good campaign platform for the ballot, and count on the voters to read the literature and make the right choice.

From there, it seems even crazier to criticize Booker for growing up in an all-white suburban neighborhood. I'll ignore the fact that any neighborhood that a black kid grows up in cannot, by definition, be "all-white." Criticizing a candidate for something that he can't control (he didn't grow up in the inner city!) makes about as much sense as criticizing a candidate for his hair color.

Next, Grayman turns to his smoking gun: "Second, for his fudraising activities he courted not the money men of Newark (there are almost none), nor of the (very) wealthy nearby suburbs in New Jersey. No, instead, Booker has has been raking it in from the stock brokers of Wall Street and the professional class of Manhattan."

God forbid that a Democrat raise money from the people who have it. Why is union money (taken from the pockets of the worker) better than contributions from professionals? Shouldn't the Democrats try to broaden their appeal?

Now he comes to his grand finale: "From Wall Street power brokers to conservative think tanks to the mainstream (as in non-African-American) media, Booker's biggest boosters do not seem to have any roots in the black community, or even the local New Jersey community, despite the fact that he is looking to govern a city that is almost 60% black.

This makes more than a few of us uncomfortable. Perhaps this is a lot of worrying over nothing. Perhaps Booker will prove to do the right thing by his constituents once in office. But blacks, particularly in Newark, are right to wonder about this latest example of the alleged "new" wave of black leaders. Where exactly do they want to lead us?"

In essence, Grayman argues that outsiders are dangerous, and that black candidates who are supported by the mainstream media (that vast Republican outpost!) or people with money cannot be trusted.

Lest we forget, in the previous two decades, Newark was run by "insider" Sharpe James (born in Jacksonville, Florida):

As the Wikipedia states: "James, however, is a very controversial figure. In 2002 he made, as mayor of a medium sized city, $213,000 a year, a salary higher than any governor in the nation. (This figure does not include his $49,000 salary as State Senator.)

James also presides over a government that collects less than 85 percent of the tax money owed it, and a city that has higher crime and infant mortality rates than other similar cities in New Jersey. In the 1990s, a good decade for American cities, Newark still lost 20 percent of its tax base."

I'm not sure that business as usual is the right approach when the mayor you've had for almost 20 years has presided over a continuous decline.

This closed-mindedness and unwillingness to listen to new ideas is the Achilles heel of the current generation of Democratic leaders. It's as if they're obsessed with ideological purity ("keeping it real"?) at the expense of pragmatism. There are certain values that are important and worth fighting for. Requiring candidates to have been born poor and black (shades of Steve Martin) is not one of them.

And the fear of the Republican bogeyman is absurdly unwarranted in Cory's case. I know Republicans. I work with Republicans. I can assure you that Cory is not a Republican, though he is wise enough to be willing to accept "Republican" ideas like school vouchers that he thinks will actually help the community.

The Democratic leadership needs to focus on winning. If they don't, they might as well be like my left-wing friend Thomas, who doesn't bother to vote Democrat because, "There's no difference between the parties, and the more the Democrats lose, the closer we'll be to the day when they actually recognize the need for change."

Britney Baby Brouhaha

Britney Baby Brouhaha
The best follow-up on yesterday's post on Britney's baby's fractured skull came from my wife, after I told her what happened:

Me: Wouldn't you notice the fractured skull when the kid cried every time you picked him up?

My wife: Maybe the baby always cries every time she picks him up.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If You Don't Want To Be A Parent, Don't Have Kids!

If You Don't Want To Be A Parent, Don't Have Kids!
There are a lot of reasons to dislike Britney Spears. The crappy songs. The crappier television appearances. The amazingly crappy husband.

But this takes the cake. Apparently Ms. Spears is under investigation by child welfare officials after a hospital found that her son, Sean Preston, had fractured his skull in an accident.

No parent is perfect. Lord knows, I'm not. But here are the details:
  • Seven-month-old Sean Preston reportedly suffered a hairline fracture of the skull after falling from a baby chair on March 31
  • He was in the care of his nanny. Spears and Federline were in Dallas at the time.
  • Sean appeared unharmed but Spears took him to hospital a week later, saying he seemed to be sleeping longer than usual.
  • A CAT scan revealed Sean had suffered a "minor skull fracture and a blood clot"
First of all, what kind of parent leaves their 7-month old to jaunt off to the big D?

Second, what kind of parent, after hearing that their baby had fallen out of a chair and hit his head on the ground, fails to take him to the doctor UNTIL A WEEK LATER?

Christ, people, I know that a kid is a big inconvenience. But so does everyone else. If you don't want to make the sacrifices to be a mom and dad, JUST DON'T DO IT!

Maybe it was an honest mistake, but given her last stunt, where Britney drove off with her baby in her lap, rather than in his car seat, AND GOT CAUGHT ON CAMERA, I'm not inclined to give this stale pop tart the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Explore. Dream. Discover."

--Mark Twain