I am optimistic, though, that America's young people can rise to meet the challenge. An increasing number of colleges and universities are emphasizing ethical capitalism in business and entrepreneurship curriculums. There is also a renaissance of faith-and-work scholarship going on at leading institutions like Princeton and Notre Dame.
Very quietly, there is also another powerful tailwind starting to blow. After nearly nine years of war in Iraq, some 40,000 soldiers returned home this holiday season. More will follow from Afghanistan. That means something more than just bad European loans and cheap imports will also be landing on America's shores in 2012.
As these troops rotate home, some will leave the service after multiple tours. For those that do, a business world in need of reform awaits.
Returning veterans are steeped in entrepreneurial thinking. They share a discipline and focus that few can match. They are accustomed to numerous adaptions and skilled at working within a small, dedicated team. And most importantly, they arrive with a deeply-held sense of "true north."
The Occupy movement has rightly called attention to the risks of self-indulgent behavior and an ego-centric spirit. But solving these excesses will require, among other things, retooled business leadership.
Our military personnel bring home a portable track record of service to others. This consistent dedication to something more than oneself strikes me as pretty darn good preparation for putting customers, employees, and shareholders first.
So, it is my sincere hope that our country does, indeed, experience an entrepreneurial renaissance this year. There should be no shortage of talented, high character, young people who are eager to contribute. If 2011 was the year of the protestor, here's hoping that 2012 will be the year of "dreamers that do!"
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