It is difficult to believe that a man born over two hundred years ago can help with our current economic challenges, but such is the legacy of Alexander Hamilton. Following America’s separation from the Old World, Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton unveiled a plan that would become the economic backbone of the United States. However, somewhere down the line, this vision began to fade to the dim pages of history books. This transition can be traced to the strength of Hamilton’s most prized pupil:
Manufacturing. The United States has been severely lacking in manufacturing prowess ever since the opportunity to export labor combined with ever increasing technological capabilities. A strong manufacturing presence has been hailed by all as a strong contributor to employment, which at the end of the day, is our most important economic factor. While Mr. Hamilton’s plan involved tariffs that ensured the competitiveness of American manufacturing, I do not believe in an exact recreation of Hamilton’s plan. Attempting to artificially ensure the competitiveness of the American manufacturing industry would raise consumer prices and stifle American industry from staying competitive in an increasingly globalized world. In order to grow the economy Hamilton style, there has to be a less literal reading of his Report on Manufactures.
In order to transfer jobs and economic power to the United States, technology must lead the way. While technological advances have traditionally replaced wage earners in production, the proper social and economic impact will spring from the coupling of technology with man’s access to use such technology. On the national scale this means a more fruitful climate for entrepreneurship. The days of one factory employing an entire town are gone. However, a town employed by many small innovative companies would result in a more empowering and productive job market. This shift can be achieved through Hamiltonian protective subsidies to entrepreneurial ventures and increased support for technological research that would empower the entrepreneurial spirit. I am not advocating for the government to pick winners and losers among upstart businesses, however, I believe that a larger safety net for entrepreneurial ventures and increased access to credit would help spread entrepreneurial ventures.
It is well known that successful entrepreneurs reap the largest financial benefits along with the freedom to implement their own vision on society. So then, why is everyone not an entrepreneur? Well for starters, not everyone wants to run a for profit or non profit venture. However, those would like to are usually discouraged by the risk involved with starting a business. Decreasing these risks (but not eliminating them) through the aforementioned remedies would attract financially ambitious individuals who can successfully establish healthy start up businesses. These established businesses would be able to create jobs on the local level and give our country a strong economic base.
Hamiltonian protectionism of American entrepreneurship would sway some ambitious profit seekers from squeezing into the financial services sector and instead establishing their own venture that would both enrich themselves and create numerous jobs in their community. We must foster invention and creation in the American individual in order to raise our standard of living. Empowering individuals to raise themselves and their community to a higher standard is the ultimate American dream. The days of working in a single factory for your whole life and retiring to your own slice of the pie are ending. The future of the “American dream” will lie in a more flexible relationship with entrepreneurship and inventiveness.