Monday, March 30, 2009

Job Creation -- the Old-Fashioned Way

Hey, here's a cool new idea in today's Boulder Daily Camera. It's called venture capitalism. This is how it works.

You start with a group of private citizens who have a little extra money to spare, a nose for good ideas and a willingness to take a chance on a startup company that has potential. They pool their personal funds and go out prospecting for interesting new businesses, hoping that they'll turn a profit, which will bring a decent return on their investment, if the company takes off. Sometimes these "ventures" succeed, and everyone benefits: the investors, the start-up, the new employees, the economy as a whole. Sometimes they fail -- but that's okay, since the costs of failure are only shouldered by the venture capitalists.

Here's the really interesting part. It's completely voluntary, and private. No taxpayers are involved! No politicians are involved! There's no need to coerce the public into making risky "investments" with tax dollars. Jobs are created, only without the need for government meddling and micromanagement. There's no favoritism involved, either, since winners and losers aren't determined by politicians, but by consumers, competition, market forces and the skill and ability of individual business owners. It's no longer the government's responsibility to create jobs, so it can focus on the things government does well.

It's a radical concept, no doubt, but maybe we should think about giving this "venture capitalism" thing a try here in Colorado Springs before we adopt the government-centered approach offered by backers of ballot issue 1A. Many of the folks funding the "jobs now" campaign are financially well-off, and count themselves as savvy business people: why don't they take the money they're contributing to 1A (almost $150,000 at last count), and take the money they give to the Economic Development Corp. each year, and use it to create a private venture capital fund for local job creation? If they're so sure they know how to create jobs and "invest" in the local economy, why don't they leave the taxpayers out of it and put their personal money on the line?

Just a few questions to ponder for those who still haven't made up their minds on 1A.

It's strange and ironic to see good old-fashioned, private sector-centered, free-market venture capitalism alive and well in Boulder County, even while supposedly-conservative Colorado Springs is flirting with central planning and "municipal socialism."

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