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  • Upstart CEO: “Small Government” Until You Need “Big Government”

    This is equivalent to the patient not seeking the doctor’s help in the emergency room, but seeking solution from the other patient sitting next to him in the waiting room – the patient in worse shape than he is.

    Upstart: Gamechangers

    I’m working through a rant of some sort here: as the founder and CEO of Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals, I know too well how costs can spiral and become a real and immediate barrier to business success. I also know that I must find an equilibrium between costs and innovation: between salary and profit – between a business stuck in survival and a business growing exponentially.

    This commentary stems from my increasing disappointment with the ossified and nebulous proclamation of conservative politicians and pundits, who incessantly exhort “Small Government:” usually at the expense of America’s most vulnerable. Sure, to “Starve the Beast” sounds like an idealistic approach, but people forget that over the last thirty years, we’ve only had three democratic presidents, so the republicans have not been as serious or proactive as they might want us to think about creating smaller government, especially when it comes to the defense budget or tax cuts – smaller government is really a coded way of eliminating programs for minorities and the working poor.

    I was looking at the devastation in Joplin, Missouri, caused by a tornado – which was preceded by a tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and add the devastation of the Mississippi River rising to epic proportions, which created flooding within large portions of Tennessee and Louisiana – – American communities have went through back-to-back-to-back catastrophes in less than three weeks time. And just yesterday, republican lawmakers insisted that for these ravaged areas to receive federal aid, the government needs to cut the money from somewhere else before they release it.

    What proponents of small government fail to include in their argument, is that when it hits the fan and people need help: it’s not congressional committees and lobby groups that help, but help in real-time – boots on the ground and emergency services help – matter of life or death help that saves people and communities – the help that arrives in time and makes such a contribution that people can rebuild their lives again – it’s federal government help.

    Those who endorse small government: never speak of the safety-net programs for the elderly, poor and disabled. Life-saving – often game-changing programs that help people live within human decency and incremental empowerment.

    Well-wishers of small government never speak of government regulation, which ensures that our laws, medicine, food and products and services are monitored with the American public’s interests in mind.

    People forget that the long-term unemployed were under attack and still are to some degree. The democratic congress passed measures to extend unemployment benefits, but the republicans wanted drastic reductions in the number of weeks an individual could receive benefits – and might I say that not only liberal Americans apply for and count on extended unemployment insurance – I’m sure there are an equal number of jobless conservatives, who want that weekly check, Medicaid, Medicare or Food Stamp – as should be the case. I have never heard of the small government unemployed “not” accepting that check or their medical benefits or food stamps, based on principle.

    The small government constituents fail to illustrate how the federal government has kept state-wide and local municipalities afloat, even while many of them have been besieged by exploding costs, tax shortfalls, calamities of Mother Nature and operating incompetence. So the local and state infrastructure you are enjoying, is often because federal government programs are underwriting both state and local programs that make your life safer, more convenient and more opportunistic.

    The financial crisis, partly created by government deregulation, mainly deployed by sanguine capitalism and deplorable greed, was averted by a quick moving president and treasury secretary, who still don’t get the credit they deserve for possibly saving the American financial system – maybe the global financial system.

    The federal government has also been instrumental in steadying the home mortgage mess, moving against foreclosures, so ordinary Americans would not permanently lose their homes. We forget that they’re many homes and communities, which have been saved by government intervention: ask those people still in their homes how they feel about small government versus a government that is sensitive about the realities, both expected and unexpected, within economic and social society, and how those safety-nets have enabled those same Americans to move on to their next moment.

    See: the things that give people humanity, equality and a sense of hope are not free: to have an able, just and mobile society – costs a hell of a lot of money. People can talk about the costs, but they should also recognize the rewards from those costs – the stabilizing and at times remarkable outcomes from such programs.

    I agree there is too much redundancy in some government agencies, as well as serious and immediate tradeoffs that need to be made to address and solve issues of deficit reduction and the national debt, but just as we got here through poor choices – we can’t cut our way to greatness. And don’t forget: a one-time surplus didn’t become a debt from big government democrats: it became a debt from small government republicans, which is ironic, because the same person who created the hole, now wants to take the lead in fixing the hole he created – this is equivalent to the patient not seeking the doctor’s help in the emergency room, but seeking solution from the other patient sitting next to him in the waiting room – the patient in worse shape than he is.

    America has to make strong choices, but choices that empower and build, as opposed to those that demand people get less, while paying more. I don’t think it‘s the money that’s the problem, it’s what they are spending it on and what they’re not spending it on. American research and development (R&D), job training, health care, education, and infrastructure should always be given priority, and the same way small government politicians can find ways to appease big business and lobbyists with tax loopholes and subsidies – they should find ways to create a stronger middle-class – more entrepreneurs and more college graduates – more people moving from government benefits to self-determination.

    Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.

    Good Luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO

    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Gamechangers


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