Kathleen McCaffrey, Editor
Ideology: Libertarian | Writing from: Ithaca, NY
For as long as I can remember, I have been an ardent contrarian. It came as no surprise to my parents, then, when I told them I decided to forgo traditional student jobs, and incorporate a political consulting firm with my great friend from high school instead. Rogers & McCaffrey (R&M) Political Group, LLC, has existed in some form or another for the past two years. We specialize in advising strategy for a number of campaigns, both political and socially-oriented, and own The Politicizer.
R&M and The Politicizer will certainly not comprise my career, but they offer services that I know I can deliver right now – expertise on the pulse of the youth, and insights from clever students. To this end, though, I have also developed some skills that I trust will serve me well as I enter the workforce. For instance, juggling schoolwork and “work-work” has forced me to adapt a disciplined set of priorities. While some nights I would love to complete a project for work, I may have to read a few chapters of Plato instead. When those issues arise, I have to rely on my co-workers to get a job done. Having a company has led me to attune myself to other’s strengths and weaknesses, and also helped me explain my ideas so that others can seamlessly pick up a project and contribute when scheduling goes awry. Though the nature of my development has been quite different, I have probably grown just as much through my experiences with entrepreneurship as I have in my college classrooms. I would encourage all my peers to try their hand at something similar before they embark upon “the real world.”
Many universities have whole programs devoted to fostering a sense of entrepreneurship around their campus. Cornell’s own Entrepreneurship@Cornell boasts 150+ courses, an “eLab” business incubator, and over sixty students participating in their internship program. It also hosts networking programs to help ideas come to fruition and foster the spirit of innovation amongst peers. College is a unique opportunity to try a hand at starting a business by virtue of its low risk. After all, boarding is included in tuition and colleges are saturated with experts in any conceivable field.
From a libertarian perspective, there is another potential benefit to an uptick in entrepreneurs. It is my contention that entrepreneurship has the potential to enlighten those who are averse to words like “capitalism.” Experience may be the most convincing testament that voluntary association is the most humane form of interaction. Lately, the financial crisis, as well as the widening gap between worker and executive compensation, have quelled public confidence in capitalism. In a world of insipid Oliver Stone films, the best hope we have to restore this confidence are initiatives like FLOWidealism, founded by Michael Strong and John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods. This project promotes entrepreneurship and the principles of capitalism by supporting “massive entrepreneurial creation through microfinance, De Soto property rights reforms, [and] free enterprise zones around the world.” It also encourages the concept of “conscious capitalism” by endorsing business models with a stakeholder orientation (not “charity”) without sacrificing incentives, as well as implementing ethical objectives behind every business.
Capitalism may seem like a synonym for Hobbesian states of nature, but consider these points about the free market: When measures of both economic freedom and democracy are included in a statistical study, economic freedom is about 50 times more effective than democracy in diminishing violent conflict, and nations with low economic freedom are fourteen times more prone to conflict on average. A peaceful market of supply and production produces cooperation where everyone benefits and standards are raised uniformly. What could be more a more valiant means of self-discovery than to contribute towards that?