This Is The End

This is the end

My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end

No safety or surprise, the end

—The Doors

You know it’s bad when I begin by quoting The Doors, but “The End” has been stuck in my head since I started collecting stories for this week’s column.

The first was Erik Sherman’s Inc. writeup of a recent Brookings Institution report on the decline of American entrepreneurship. According to Brookings, "entrepreneurship has reached at least a three-decade low across virtually all of the country." Three decades also happens to be as long as Brookings has been tracking such things. Sherman adds:

For decades, the entrance of firms outpaced their exit, meaning a net increase in new businesses. The authors see that--reasonably, it seems--as a proxy to an inclination toward entrepreneurism. But since at least 1978, the lines have converged, albeit slowly. In 2008, they reached a watershed moment and crossed.

The math is simple: More firms leaving than arriving means a shrinking percentage of business is being controlled by entrepreneurs. And notice that the exits were relatively steady. It is the creation of new firms that has sagged.


The trend line has never been good, but it accelerated sharply downward in 2010, the year Obamacare was signed into law. While that ought to be the big economic story of the week, as Jean Card writes for US News & World Report, "Riddle me this:"

A Google News search for this week’s alarming study from the Brookings Institution on the decline of business dynamism in the U.S. yields a mere half-dozen results, making it like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. The study is a big deal. It should make a huge amount of noise. Its economic implications are staggering. But no one appears to be listening.

Maybe that’s because the mainstream media was busy touting the ACA’s reputed successes. A Google News search for "Obamacare Success" yields thousands of results from just the last week. The "success" being touted was President Obama’s claim that eight million Americans had signed up for insurance on the various federal and state exchanges, despite earlier claims that the law would cover nearly twice that many. Of course, the original rationale for Obamacare was that 46 million Americans lacked health insurance — but anything can be construed as a success provided you have a compliant media helping to move the goalposts ever closer.

But as we'll explore right after the page break, we’re just getting started.