By Ross Dubberly, YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise

Perhaps the most beautiful characteristic of free enterprise is that it permits people to chase their wildest entrepreneurial dreams.

While free enterprise promises no entrepreneur or innovator success, it does incentivize such people to reach for the stars, fail, and then try again. This is paramount to entrepreneurs and innovators. Otherwise, why would the Jeff Bezoses of the world routinely crank out the 100-hour work weeks that they do?

As Jared Meyer, a policy expert on disruptive technology, put it at this year’s Young America’s Foundation Road to Freedom Seminar, “Things change radically when there is incentive to innovate.” The iPhone in your pocket is living proof.

The iPhone’s invention is an amazing story. The late CEO and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, hadn’t initially intended to build a phone at all. “I actually started on the tablet first. I had this idea of being able to get rid of the keyboard and type on a multi-touch glass display,” Jobs remarked in an interview. After Jobs and his team began clearing one technological hurdle after another relating to touch-screen technology, Jobs eventually began to think, “My God . . . We can build a phone out of this.” And he didn’t stop until he did.

Jobs’ efforts to develop this new phone were grueling, costly, and characterized by countless “setbacks, glitches, and obstacles,” according to one account. Nevertheless, in January of 2007—after an estimated $150 million spent and great amounts of blood, sweat, and tears—Steve Jobs presented Apple’s iPhone to the world. And the world hasn’t been the same since.

The story of Steve Jobs and the iPhone is as American a story as they come. It’s the story of how curiosity, ingenuity, grit, determination, hard work, and a willingness to fail can come together to change the world for the better. More broadly, it’s the story of how free enterprise makes the seemingly impossible possible.

Barack Obama thinks if you own a business, you didn’t really build it. Elizabeth Warren seems to think the successful among us achieved our success merely because of the roads and schools taxpayers paid for.

However, Jobs’ success with the iPhone is primarily a product of the investments made by him, his team, and his shareholders. It is because of the free market in which Jobs operated that his innovative capabilities remained largely unhindered. This, unfortunately, would not have been true in many other nations, where free enterprise is absent or substantially constrained.

It’s no coincidence that the iPhone wasn’t invented in Iran, Sudan, or North Korea. In those places, innovation is severely limited because freedom is curtailed. But in America, entrepreneurship is not only incentivized, but it is also celebrated and compensated.

Consequently, amazing products like the iPhone emerge. If we remember one thing, it should be this: The potential of humanity and technology is vast—that is, so long as big government stays out of the way.


Ross Dubberly is the co-chairman of the University of Georgia Young Americans for Freedom chapter.

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