Saturday, June 4, 2011

Uncertainty and economic recovery: Partisan animal spirits | The Economist

Something to consider: the entrepreneurs essential to the United States are increasingly concentrated in one political party. This plays into the narratives of both left and right. The left can argue that this trend proves the evil GOP is merely a tool of the business class. The right can argue that business is being vilified by the left, even though businesses and business owners pay the taxes necessary for our government to exist.

W.W. writing "Democracy in America" at The Economist's website has the following entry, discussing the steady shift of both management and business owners towards the Republican party, while "routine" white-collar workers have shifted to the Democratic party:
Uncertainty and economic recovery: Partisan animal spirits | The Economist

Of course, whether entrepreneurs and small-business types see Washington as an adversary or partner is not entirely a matter of in-the-trenches business experience. It is at least partly a matter of political identity. This thought put me in mind of a set of graphs in Andrew Gelman and friends' excellent book "Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State":


What you see here is that "managers and administrators" as well as "owners and proprietors", the groups that do most of the hiring, are significantly and increasingly more likely than average to vote Republican. This raises a fascinating possibility: that Republican-leaning businesspeople freak out when Democrats are in power. Let's call this "partisan regime uncertainty". Now, maybe there is a good reason Democrats in power make Republican businessfolk afraid to make a move, which would help explain the relatively dramatic flight of owners and proprietors away from the Democrats. Or maybe individuals most likely to run a business are also most likely to fall for empty, right-wing free-market rhetoric, and this has made them increasingly likely to see Democrats as forces of socialising chaos. I don't know. In either case, we get partisan regime uncertainty.
It is not healthy for the United States' political system to be so clearly defined by whether or not one is an entrepreneur in private industry. I can attest that there is nothing so despised in some corners of academia as an entrepreneur, even though business owners built our university system. There is an "us vs. them" attitude that does feel like an all-out assault on creators, innovators, and others willing to risk everything to start businesses.

Maybe we can overcome this, but I'm not certain how. Increasingly, the Democratic party does feel "anti-business" and that is going to create a mess. Many great Democrats have been business owners. The entrepreneurial class had representatives in both political parties. Now? Are those of us with a passion for business being driven to one political party? And what of those of us unable to feel at home in the Republican party?

There was a time someone like myself might be comfortable with moderates from either major political party. Now? I trust neither party, but I trust one less than the other. That's not good. I increasingly feel my choices are to vote Republican or to skip voting. Since I'm not a social conservative, there are too many GOP candidates I cannot, and will not, support.

I merely want to be allowed to develop my ideas and market them for a fair price. I want to create and innovate. I do not want to be called evil because I believe hard work should be rewarded. Too many of my colleagues imagine success is only a matter of birth or luck — ignoring the importance of hard work, including the numerous failures many entrepreneurs endure. Yes, I've failed. I've had complete and total disasters in business. But those failures didn't stop my desire to try again, to keep aiming for that idea that leads to success.

Democrats keep saying they aren't anti-business. It doesn't feel that way. Apparently, I'm not the only person repelled by the Democrats. I'm not rushing to be a Republican, either, though.

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