Four years ago, Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton declared, “the world will be led with economic force – a force that is primarily driven by job creation and quality GDP growth….the coming world war is an all-out global war for good jobs.” Today, economists and politicians alike generally agree that job creation and inclusive growth (growth that is shared across income groups) is the #1 issue to resolve – not only to restore America’s global economic standing but also to restore the American Dream of equal opportunity. Inclusive economics and entrepreneurship were central themes in President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, and top Republicans are increasingly talking about issues of inequality and wealth gap.
We have work to do to restore the American dream and to restore America’s standing in the world. Pew research shows median household wealth declined 39.4% from 2007 to 2010. Median net worth of American families has held stable through 2013, but we can’t be satisfied with this as the new normal. How can we move towards an increase? And how, particularly, can we make that growth inclusive by closing the current gap between whites earning 17 times more than blacks, the lowest point since 1989?
I spent the last 20 years working on issues of global poverty and international development. I sat on many panels that ended with this question: what is the most important thing the U.S. can do to reduce global poverty? And my answer was and remains the same: First, fix and grow our own country’s economy by driving new business, unlock capital and create new and lasting jobs; support and reward R&D and innovators and experimenters in every field coming up with new and bold ways of tackling the world’s most pressing challenges. Second, make sure the American dream – equality of opportunity – remains real. It is universal value that inspires all people everywhere.
This year, our Case Foundation team, is building up a pillar of work we call “Unleashing Entrepreneurship.” At the root of that pillar is a belief in the power of entrepreneurship to transform lives, create good jobs, rebuild the middle class, uplift struggling communities and close the opportunity gap that exists for too many. And that belief holds whether we are talking about New Orleans, Detroit or Nairobi – creating enduring jobs is perhaps the greatest antidote to poverty and hopelessness which erodes the very fabric of the tightly-knit communities the world needs to prosper.
As I’ve been trying to put words to my own beliefs in this space, I have found a kindred spirit in Jim Clifton who said: “If you were to ask me, from all the world polling Gallup has done for more than 75 years, what would fix the world – what would suddenly create worldwide peace, global wellbeing, and the next extraordinary advancements in human development, I would say the immediate appearance of $1.8 billion formal jobs. Nothing would change the current state of humankind more.” I encourage folks to read his book The War for Good Jobs, or at least this excerpt, and his thoughts on how to tackle this one city at a time.
Others have explored how we can clear the path to entrepreneurship for not only our generation, but for those to come. Here are some other pieces that have inspired me. I hope they do the same for you as we work to create more vibrant communities, a stronger America and a more prosperous global economy.
While we are in explorer mode finding a Case Foundation niche in this space, I invite you to share your thoughts – what inspires you? Tell us on Twitter by tagging @CaseFoundation and using the hashtag #CFblog or send me an email SheilaH@casefoundation.org.