Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An Essay on the Blessings of Liberty and Giving Everybody a "Fair Shot"

President Obama should just stick with the written script and not stray from the teleprompter when talking about free markets and American entrepreneurialism. Otherwise people may get the wrong impression about what's made America the most prosperous nation in the history of the world.

He obviously doesn't know much about our market based economy or system of freedom based entrepreneurial capitalism, for that matter. We really are the land of "fair shot" equal opportunity in action.

Lest you think I'm just another right wing Obama hater, which I'm not, let's together take a look at the President's ignorance on display--- and in his own words.

Obama Defends Attacks on Romney, Bain Capital summarizes the President's "fair shot" stance as follows:

"President Barack Obama defended his attacks on Republican Mitt Romney‘s career at Bain Capital, saying if the former businessman thinks his private-equity experience translates to running the U.S. economy then he’s “missing what this job is about.”

“When you’re president, as opposed to head of a private-equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits,” Mr. Obama said at a press conference at the conclusion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Chicago. He added: ”Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.”

The Obama campaign has used Mr. Romney’s time at the private-equity firm Bain Capital to try to brand him as a corporate raider, including releasing an ad about a former steel company, GST Steel, that went bankrupt eight years after Bain took it over. The Romney campaign has said the ad is part of the Obama administration’s attack on free enterprise."

Discussion and Analysis

Freedom involves both the freedom to fail and the freedom to succeed. Risk takers seek success and often encounter failure along the way. Success is never final and failure is never fatal to the entrepreneur.

Capital providers share in both the successes and failures of the entrepreneurial risk takers. The entrepreneurs are the ones taking the "fair shots" and who are emboldened with ideas as to how to build a better competitive mousetrap. The capital providers enable the "fair shots" to be taken.

Our firmly entrenched and awe inspiring American free enterprise system is all about the successful "fair shots" of free risk taking individuals. Fundamental to those shots is the necessary capital provided to those risk takers seeking to build a better mouse trap.

Entrepreneurialism starts with an idea and goes from there. Some ventures never get off the ground and some do. And of those that do get off the ground, some succeed while most fail.

And whether a particular idea takes hold or a particular venture succeeds or fails, Americans as a whole are the beneficiaries of this free market competitive process where we all have a "fair shot" at success, however we may choose to define it.

Mitt Romney was an entrepreneur with an idea when he started Bain Capital. As his business venture achieved success, he acquired lots of capital. That capital and his entrepreneurial skills were then employed to support the ideas and dreams of other risk taking entrepreneurs.

Of course, some endeavors failed and some succeeded. As did the accompanying investments of Bain Capital and its investing partners. That's the way the competitive process of free market "fair shots" works.

And without entrepreneurial success, there will be no further capital to invest. In a system of free enterprise, when success occurs, capital follows. When failure happens, capital disappears. Nothing complicated about it.

As a successful private equity company now, Bain Capital supports entrepreneurs with capital supplied by investors as well as the ideas, hard work, oversight and other leadership capabilities of Bain management. We call this free enterprise in a free market capitalistic society.

The Blessings of Liberty

From birth until death, each American is possessed with the rights to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We are born with lots and lots of "fair shots," meaning simply that we're each at liberty to live the individual American dream that we choose to live, however we may choose to define that dream.

In my view, being born a free American is to be given the "fairest free shot" of all.

And we didn't even have to earn it.

That's why President Obama's comments yesterday struck me as either ignorant, mean spirited or both.

Has he forgotten the blessings of liberty that he was given---blessings which underline the very essence of our unique brand of American citizenship?

I haven't and I won't.

Entrepreneurialism and Capitalism

President Obama apparently doesn't understand the simple distinction between entrepreneurialism and capitalism.

Without freedom loving, risk taking, idea generating, business building entrepreneurs, there would be no need for capital providers like Bain Capital. Of course, as free people we do have individual ideas and dreams dealing with what we want to accomplish.

But without capital, entrepreneurs often can't get their ideas off the ground and into action. Then the idea that might have worked won't survive, let alone thrive.

The entrepreneur is the creator, the energetic worker and the one building what he hopes will become a successful enterprise.  Entrepreneurs are supported by the invested capital and management expertise of companies like Bain.

Romney's Path to Capitalist Began as a Successful Entrepreneur

Thus, the "fair shot" opportunity is made possible by capitalists. Mitt Romney served Bain Capital as both an entrepreneur and capital provider. But as is the situation with most people who end up with capital to invest, his path began as a successful entrepreneur.

Same thing for Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Bill Gates and countless others. They started down the "fair shot" path as individuals with ideas and energy. They then built businesses via entrepreneurship and were supported financially by investors who provided the necessary capital in exchange for a piece of the action.

Fair Shots for All Americans

To me that's a fair shot society, and it's available to each of us. Want to start a hot dog stand, a lawn care service, a barbershop, a restaurant, sell insurance or any other business venture?

Or just live a simple life instead?

Or begin a free or not-for profit service to assist your fellow man?

Or anything else that's new, purposeful and interesting to you?

It's your choice.

First, what's the plan behind the venture which will allow it to be successful in the marketplace of ideas, goods and/or services? And when the plan is in place, it's time to get to work.

If money is needed to get the venture started, see the banker, a company like Bain Capital, or perhaps a neighbor or friend who has some capital to invest. Then you're ready, along with your co-investor, to take your best "fair shot" and see what happens.

Finally, Whose Money is at Risk? ... Investors or Taxpayers?

President Obama apparently doesn't like the fact that in some of Bain's unsuccessful private equity investments people lost their jobs.Who does he want to pay the people to keep the loss making operation open? The investors or the taxpayers?

Is it private or taxpayer money at stake? Does President Obama consider himself to be a better investor of OPM than is a private equity investor of MOM? If he does, watch out below!

The Various Constituencies

With any business, there are five important constituencies comprised of  (1) customers, (2) shareholders (3) employees, (4) suppliers and (5) communities. Each would prefer to keep the operation afloat, assuming the entity provides a competitive product or service.

That said, nobody is willing in perpetuity to waste or lose MOM in the process. Of course, customers are listed first among equals for a reason. That's because customers decide who stays in business and who closes its doors.

In a loss making environment, would President Obama prefer to cover the losses by sending the bill to the taxpayer? That's what the government does with respect to the postal service, Solyndra and such other "loss makers."

The purpose of any self sustaining business is to get and keep customers. Profit making or satisfactory mission fulfillment is the cost of staying in business.

The purpose of any investment is to accomplish the mission of that investment, whether that be creating a profit or simply a service that will better serve humanity.

In the private sector, investors are in search of profits.  In the public sector, taxpayers are the investors, even though government leaders don't serve the best interests of those taxpayer investors.

The public sector monopolies waste a great deal of money through inefficient operations. Think public schools, as an example

On top of that, the government monopolies often don't need to be doing what they're doing anyway. Think post office, as an example.

And public sector "investments" often lose lots of taxpayer money. Think Solyndra, as an example.

With government leading the way, taxpayers generally don't  get our money's worth. It's the OPM factor again.

Summing Up

If Bain investors were offered enough money by the government through President Obama to keep people employed, the shareholders would step aside to make way for the government.

That's the essential difference between private (Bain) investors and public (government) "investors."  MOM vs. OPM.

If the public "invests" money to give everybody in the country a fair shot, then the taxpayers will foot the bill.

Sometimes this "kind and caring" government mandated fair shot activity is called stimulus, sometimes fairness, but it's always taxpayer funded.

Think Solyndra, for example. Or the post office. Or ethanol subsidies. Or student loans.  Or cash for clunkers. Or countless other things.

On the other hand, when private investors fund the investment, the taxpayer won't foot the bill in case of failure.

Fair Shots for All

Let's give taxpayers a fair shot and allow entrepreneurs and capital providers to take their fair shots, too.

And let's always remember the difference between private and taxpayer money.

And what made America the greatest nation in the world.

Thanks. Bob.

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