The current times are disheartening. We are in uncharted waters. Nevertheless, through my columns, I admit to being a cheerleader. I do not apologize for this. As an entrepreneur, I find it useful to think about where we are, where we have been, and where we can go in the future.

Primarily due to the character and creativity of the American entrepreneurial class, as well as the philosophical footing of the American Republic, I am confident the United States will be prosperous and secure in this century. But, I believe we must continue to have a can-do attitude.

Americans, in this second decade of the 21st Century, find themselves constantly bombarded by the chant that America’s best years are behind her. Malcontents of all political stripes warn us that our politics and economy are no longer the envy of the world. Furthermore, we are accused of being a people who lack strong personal and public values.

On a daily basis, Americans have been labeled as undisciplined and irresponsible. We often are defined as people who have squandered the wealth of this country without regard for the well-being of future generations. Much wealth has been squandered for sure, but not only by American citizens.

We often are told that our political leaders have conspired with certain fellow citizens in ways that could place the government on a reckless and foolish path that leads to national insolvency. I say to all of this: ridiculous! As Winston Churchill asked in the dark days of 1941, “What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible that they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere?” Persevere we shall.

I know that we are indeed living in challenging times. And we have made mistakes. Americans are far from flawless. We are, after all, human beings. There are many things we could have done better, and we will learn from our mistakes. Having said that, I believe this century can and will be an American one.

I am not so naïve as to assume future prosperity will be ours without creativity, hard work, and discipline. Of course, it will take all that and more. I have idealistic, optimistic and ambitious views concerning the future of the people of the United States. I am mindful of the great upheavals taking place politically, culturally and economically in our country and around the world. I see our present national security situation as difficult, and sometimes dangerous and insecure. But, I also see it as hopeful. I see many things that are interconnected.

I have a strong belief that America has many overwhelming competitive advantages: rule of law, a long history of entrepreneurship, the openness and freedom of a democratic republic, hard-working and honest citizens, a free-market economy, substantial national net worth, a large corps of veteran entrepreneurs, and an adaptable form of government that has permitted us to grow, change and recognize the value in everyone. We have a sound philosophical foundation.

With these invaluable advantages in mind, it is important to understand the role of entrepreneurs as the innovators in any national economy today. Why? Technological innovation is the vital component for any economic transformation. And modern economies are economies of knowledge and ideas.

As a result, we must encourage creativity and innovation, and promote conditions for entrepreneurial accomplishment. Skilled people are America’s greatest asset. Placing people and their ideas at the center of a country’s development is the difference between rich and poor societies.

I am a champion for all citizens who choose to start a business. In future columns I will draw strength and wisdom from more than two millennia of Western thought and history. I draw upon this insight not because I think it is perfect and the only compelling collection of social thought, but because it is time-tested, convincing and part of our history.

The United States is in the midst of an upsetting process of reinventing and transforming itself both domestically and globally. The changes in political, cultural and economic paradigms are trying the patience and confronting the intellect and ingenuity of American citizens.

These alterations to American life will require time, resources and perseverance to satisfactorily resolve. This reinvention will not be easy; but it is required. Fortunately, the American people are imaginative, resilient and tough.

To our benefit, we have a $16 trillion economy to work with (25 percent of the world’s gross domestic product), and household net worth of $64.8 trillion. And this does not include the very valuable public and intangible assets of the United States. We do, however, also have large private and public debt, and we need to reduce it. This will take time.

Our population consists of a disproportionate share of risk-takers. Consequently, I think America is at its best when faced with new and demanding challenges. I believe this renewal is a generational revolution that President Thomas Jefferson foresaw.

This upheaval will rejuvenate our spirit and re-focus our vision. I think a review of President Washington’s Farewell Address reveals a vision for America that is still relevant more than 200 years later. America will be a role model for others to follow because of our justice, benevolence and commerce. Washington’s vision remains. The opportunity is there for us to seize! It is not the time for “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.”

This article is the first in a series.

James Wilfong
About The Author James Wilfong
James Wilfong is Chairman of Innovative Applied Science. He also is an international business practitioner, educator, Veterans business advocate, public servant, and a member of VET-Force and the President’s Task-force on Veteran’s Business Development.

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