Sign "O" the Times

Woo-hoo! We’re number twelve! Read:

The U.S. now ranks not first, not second, not third, but 12th among developed nations in terms of business startup activity. Countries such as Hungary, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Israel and Italy all have higher startup rates than America does.

We are behind in starting new firms per capita, and this is our single most serious economic problem. Yet it seems like a secret. You never see it mentioned in the media, nor hear from a politician that, for the first time in 35 years, American business deaths now outnumber business births.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the total number of new business startups and business closures per year — the birth and death rates of American companies — have crossed for the first time since the measurement began. I am referring to employer businesses, those with one or more employees, the real engines of economic growth. Four hundred thousand new businesses are being born annually nationwide, while 470,000 per year are dying.

I remember reading all those assurances a few years back, that “business climate” doesn’t really matter, and that American businessmen would just keep doing what they do, no matter how many regulations or mandates Washington imposed.

I’d also remind you that squelching entrepreneurship is a great way for vested interests protect themselves from disruptive innovators. This is what’s known as “crony capitalism,” but I’ve always preferred the word “corruption,” which is both shorter and more honest.

If you prefer a longer phrase, in the Obama Administration it’s just “business as usual.”

(Hat tip, Glenn Reynolds.)