Outraged

I am completely outraged. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Illinois) testified on the floor of the U.S. Congress about the evils of innovation (watch video clip). He criticized Steve Jobs for inventing the iPad because it will end up displacing workers in traditional printing houses. He suggests that the United States Government should regulate innovation that negatively impacts non-competitive and outdated industries.

Are you kidding me???

This is exactly the type of backwards, protectionist thinking that crumbles both governments and companies. Perhaps Mr. Jackson never bothered to read Darwin or study history, but adapting to the times and driving progress through innovation have been the key ingredients of success for centuries. Look at Microsoft, Google, Pfizer, or Apple. Each has created thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of wealth (not to mention tax-base which ironically pays the very members of congress who prefer to complain rather than create).

Mr. Jackson’s irrational argument flies in the face human progress. Should we have stopped the printing press since it would put the hand-scribing Monks out of work? In the early 1900’s, should we have curbed the auto industry since it could have impacted jobs in the cart-and-buggy arena? Prohibit drug therapies because healthier people may damage the morgue industry? Insanity!

Finger-pointing zealots and talking-head pundits don’t drive the economy, innovators do.

Rather than restrict innovation, we must realize that new ideas, fresh thinking, and creativity have become the currency of success; in both business and life.

There is a battle being waged between two opposing camps. On the one side, there are those that focus on the past. They prefer protectionism, blame, and entitlement over creativity and innovation. They thrive by extinguishing new ideas, casting doubt and fear, and breeding mediocrity. They’d rather sharply criticize the problem than go out on a limb and be part of the solution.

Fortunately, the other camp – the Creative Class – is starting to win this battle. Imagination is beating rigidity. Responsible risk-taking is eclipsing bureaucracy. As a society, we are at a tipping point. Those that focus on imagining a better future and then have the courage to take action are leaving the fear-mongering hoarders in the dust.

You have a choice. We all do. You can cling tightly to the past and long for the good old days gone by. Or you can get on with creating, inventing, dreaming… and winning. Reminds me of one of my favorite proverbs from ancient China: “Man who says it can’t be done should not interrupt man doing it.”

With all due respect, Mr. Jackson, it’s time for legislation that fosters innovation, not restricts it. Suggesting anything else is outrageous. In fact, we should all be outraged.