There's a lot of buzz about entrepreneurship right now. This is especially obvious if you hang out on LinkedIn, Twitter, or cruise the Ning social networks. It is not surprising, given the amount of people looking for jobs due to cutbacks and restructuring and a few bankruptcies thrown in for good measure. So far, the government plans to promote economic growth have tried to stimulate a lot of things, but stimulating entrepreneurs doesn't seem to be one of them. It's important to encourage entrepreneurship and not just for economic reasons. Entrepreneurship is the ultimate exercise in developing the attributes that we know from positive psychology to be essential to having a good life: self-competence, optimism, engagement, and resilience.
I'm against government stimulus the way it's usually done for the same reasons that I'm for entrepreneurship. Sending people checks in the mail may give them money to spend--and I'm not saying that's not fun--but they might as well print a card to stick in the envelope with the check that says: "You can't do it yourself, so we have to help you." There is no indication that anyone in government from either side of the aisle thinks we can take care of ourselves. There is no encouragement to start a business or suggestions about how do it with or without the stimulus checks. There are no messages about how starting a business is way to turn one dollar into two. Or even how important it is for everybody's morale if you just get busy and make or do something. We don't even teach it in schools unless you make it all the way to an MBA. For a country founded on initiative and pioneer spirit, this seems totally out of character. The stimulus program is a message about powerlessness and consumption. And worse, this type of stimulus is promoting consumption without any ties to an individual's effort. Every parent knows that's a recipe for disaster. Aside from what that kind of incentive does to someone's work ethic, it is even worse psychologically because it undermines people's belief in themselves.
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