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Toasting the Risk-Takers

By Dr. John Hilston

October 2, 2012 - Hail to the entrepreneurs.

Our market economy has created so much for so many. Even the non-business-owning public is much better off due to innovations born out of the desire for profit.

For instance, have you noticed that it’s football season? It doesn’t matter which team you support. Things like footballs, bratwursts and wings unite us. And every one of them started as a product for a small business.

I hear one football team even plays at a place called FedEx Field. FedEx is a great example of a company started and built from nothing.

Legend has it that some business professor gave Fred Smith, the FedEx founder, a “C” on the assignment where he first outlined his plan for the mega-logistics company.

Hey, what do we professors know? It’s clear the market has given FedEx an “A.”

You also might have noticed that it’s political season. Candidates are going to great lengths in their campaigns to get their messages out through marketing.

I happen to think this process is mostly healthy. Still, it’s important to recognize the difference between the market and government.

Like them or not, a company like FedEx can only continue to operate if it persuades you to voluntarily purchase its service. On the other hand, government collects its revenue in a decidedly non-voluntary manner.

So how can these entities — the market and government — successfully coexist? Our nation was founded on the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That last phrase is very important.

There is no guarantee that one will find happiness or success in business, only that one will have the opportunity to pursue happiness. As such, when it comes to entrepreneurship, the main role for government is to get out of the way.

Securing private financing, taking risks and bringing a product or service to market with little public support is the whole idea.

Our Space Coast economy is currently at a crossroads. It would be great if the new rocket entrepreneurs working at Kennedy Space Center would launch us back on a high trajectory for growth.

No matter what happens with human space travel, I remain confident that our talented entrepreneurs and workforce will find new and creative ways of serving others.

After all, that’s the essence of a market economy.

Dr. John Hilston is an associate professor of economics at Brevard Community College.