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Failure-The Path To Success


By Marilyn Snyder

Free market principles—free to succeed and free to fail. 

Been there. Done that.

And I can guarantee that the failing part wasn’t fun. My husband and I made the choice to start a business with what turned out to be a “shady” partner, investing everything we had, including putting up our house as collateral.

Well, everyone is young and stupid, sometimes at the same time.

We might have ended up millionaires, or at least “thousand-aires,” and we determined to try it for ourselves. Risk it all. Go for broke. We succeeded. 

And, despite the hazards, we weren’t alone in our desire to be self-employed, to take advantage of the American free market. CNN Money said in 2011 that the startup rate was the highest in 15 years—558,000 per month. More than one in 10 Americans were developing their own business in 2012, according to the U.S. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

It’s an American tradition. Immigrants and residents alike who are innovators and risk-takers decide to sacrifice their present circumstances for the possibilities of new wealth, greater freedom, and a better life-style. Bill Gates succeeded beyond his wildest dreams as have my husband and I and millions of other Americans.  And if we didn’t achieve Bill Gates’ level of financial success, well, maybe we had different ideas about what success meant. But we all had the opportunity to try because of our capitalist economic system.

Individual Americans want to pave their own path, to have control of their own income and working hours. Of course that also means the freedom to work seven days a week, into the wee hours, and without a break for holidays, in order to meet customer demands. And face potential failure, loss of income, and rough patches. Yet the risk of failure seems less important than the chance to do things “my way.” It’s called personal liberty and that’s the way these brave and gutsy entrepreneurs choose to go.

What gave us the freedom to be self-employed is the American free market system. According to the Tea Party Patriots, “A free market is the economic consequence of personal liberty. The founders believed that personal and economic freedom were indivisible….” You could say these freedoms create an opportunity society.

Go down to State Street any Thursday Market Night and witness for yourself the wonder of America’s free market. All those “Mom and Pop” vendors are part of the American capitalist system. Want to bet that nearly every one of them wishes they didn’t have to pay so many taxes, fill out so many government forms, or jump through so many governmental hoops?

Besides the personal rewards gained by these innovative individuals, our economy benefits greatly from the free market. “…small and midsize companies have been producing more jobs than their larger counterparts and creating them at a faster pace …,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek in April 2012.

Most of us have benefited from the free market economics that made our country an economic superpower.

It’s a generational improvement. My grandfather was an immigrant with little education—none in English—who started a small business. My father almost graduated from the seventh grade and ended up a self-employed bricklayer, advancing to master stonemason. I and three of my four siblings graduated from college and each of us has benefited financially from our forays into the world of self-employment. Most of our good fortune resulted from individual and economic liberty. 

Sadly, our capitalist system is under attack in multitudes of ways and those who favor socialism speak out boldly of its questionable advantages over our two centuries of proven financial success under capitalism.  John F. Kennedy said, “I believe in an America where the free enterprise system flourishes for all other systems to see and admire – where no businessman lacks either competition or credit – and where…no government bureaucracy can put him out of business that he built up with his own initiative.” 

But when it comes to a comparison of the two systems, I think Margaret Thatcher said it best: “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.”

Marilyn Snyder

Redlands Tea Party Cabinet Member

August 6, 2013