Labor Day Should Be “Innovators Day”

Posted: Sep 04, 2012 12:01 AM

Labor Day is stupid.

A national celebration of Big Labor. Big Labor slows down economic innovation. It holds people and companies back. In a modern society, big labor unions really have no place. Big Labor pollutes our politics. It’s central planning. Some have proposed a Creator’s Day. Big massive companies can do the same thing as unions. Think ATT and Comcast want to see a lot of innovation in broadband? Think again. Instead of calling today Labor Day, I’d call it Innovators Day.

Despite unions and corporations that lobby to regulate the crap out of us, America is the most innovative society on the planet. No organized society in human history has been as creative as America. Ever. The most disruptive industrial discoveries, science discoveries, and even, yes, even innovations in capital markets were all imagined and perfected in America.

But lately, our society doesn’t hold up the innovators. It tries to tear them down.

Innovators take risk. If they are successful, they are remunerated for taking that risk. They get rich. If you ask most of them, they didn’t do it for the money. The money was a byproduct of what they did. Most of the time, they tried to solve a problem. If they did it elegantly and executed the business properly, a large market rewarded them with big cash. What they do with that cash is their business, not ours.

All innovation isn’t necessarily groundbreaking. Home Depot ($HD) was innovative. But there were competitors like Home Depot that failed. Home Depot is just a big mom and pop hardware store. It exploited a niche market. The execution of the business on the scale they did it was groundbreaking and lead to similar innovation in other niche markets.

Some of the first big internet companies weren’t necessarily mind blowing intricate technical ideas. Amazon ($AMZN) started as a book store. Now it’s into everything. It just took the brick and mortar storefront and put it online. That’s not massive innovation, but it was certainly disruptive.

One could make a really long list of companies that were created through small steps in innovation. Those baby steps cause everyone to be really productive in some way and create huge value for all of us. We ought to be holding parades for innovators every year. Instead, forces try to crush them through emotions like envy.

There isn’t one industry that can’t be made better through creative thinking and innovation. Farming has been with us for thousands of years, yet small family farms are becoming truly innovative and changing the way we look at and produce food.

The downside for people that try and innovate is there is a large element of risk. People fail. They lose money. As a society, we need to create support networks to lift these people up. There is no crime in failure. Heck, I do it all the time. If you don’t try, you can’t fail. But not trying doesn’t get you anywhere. So try. Try a lot. Learn from failing.

Many corporate cultures fear innovation too. So they stifle it. Instead of trying something they fear failure and the repercussions from shareholders. Or lawyers. Big companies that have a dominant position in the market generally lobby and try to write rules and regulations so other competitors can’t come in and take their business. The new US Patent Law might help them do that.

There is a lot of talk today about “first principles” in America. Getting back to first principles. The first principle of America is that it wouldn’t have existed with out a bunch of risk takers coming here and innovating what a modern society should look like. We ought to be celebrating that today.