Washington Post

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The free market economy needs regulation, and we know that thanks to the work of Machine Gun Kelly.

The handsome con man and his ambitious wife survived during the Great Depression engaging in one of the leading entrepreneurial activities of the time: kidnapping for ransom. But they weren’t just brazen criminals, they were working the weaknesses in the system. A key one? They made sure to commit their crimes across state lines.

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It’s that time again. The carnival side show known as the congressional budget process is playing out downtown, and greater Washington is reminded how dangerous it is being a company town when the mill owner is moody.

Yes, a government shutdown would affect our entire economy, as a portion of our workforce would be left without paychecks for period of time. However, the possibility of a reimposition of sequestration limits on federal spending is an ongoing threat. For two years, a short-term congressional agreement allowed federal expenditures to rise higher than sequestration limits. Many suggest our region has adjusted to the lower spending totals, but that is just wrong.

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Democracies are fragile and unique political systems and we should be doing more to protect ours.

It’s historical fact. Almost 1,800 years stretched between the fall of the Roman Republic and the Declaration of Independence establishing our American democracy. And with our current state of affairs in politics and frenzied media, it’s clear to me this nation is in danger of forgetting just how rare and difficult it is to maintain a representative democracy.

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To create jobs, it’s helpful to think about gazelles, those fast-growing entrepreneurial start-ups that rapidly scale into sustainable businesses with high-value jobs and prospects. In the greater Washington region, both community leaders and entrepreneurs invest time identifying these business successes and encouraging new ones to grow. I’ve been looking at data, hunting for patterns, spotting industries in which local gazelles are appearing. What I found both surprised and concerned me.

The U.S. economy has had two cycles of explosive growth in technology over the last 20 years. The first period I refer to as the era of the “Internet printing press.” It lasted from 1995 to 2001 and framed the establishment of the Internet as an infrastructure to support countless business opportunities. The second period I describe as the “era of sharing” — it stretches from 2003 to today. Our region’s participation in each of these two eras of expansion has been very different.

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Baseball great Satchel Paige cautioned, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

I want to quote him every time I discuss with community leaders what work will be required on the regional infrastructure over the next 30 years. They need to look over their shoulders more often; technology is coming and it’s coming fast. And it’s changing not only how but where we live.

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I am struck by the current fascination with the idea of a businessperson being a desirable presidential candidate, and hope that we are not so desperate for a better economy that we are waiting for a knight in shining armor to be our next president.

I get why we are charmed by such contenders. We’re wired to admire successful business people. The concepts of self-determination and entrepreneurship are deep seated in the American Dream. Our country is built on the premise that entrepreneurial patterns work. Athletes, spiritual leaders, business owners and even politicians are admired when they “make it happen” through their own hard work and diligence – the ideal of the individual triumphing over all obstacles is deep within us. It’s how we like to see ourselves as a nation.

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Venture capital and innovation… who is following whom?

Here’s the myth: venture capital is the driver of innovation in the United States and is the financial engine disrupting industries and starting new ones. After years in the venture industry, I completely understand why the venture industry loves this myth. It’s good for business. However, the reality has become very different.

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