It is, of course, impossible to disagree with David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, when he says that supporting Britain’s entrepreneurs is the only possible strategy for growth.
He has come out to declare war on the ‘enemies of enterprise’ ... but with a classic bit of blame shifting.
Entrepreneurs are currently even more important to their countries than usual. Governments like those of the UK and the USA are now being forced to cut state spending after years of extravagant expenditure and dangerous deficits. They have no choice but to rely on private sector growth to take up the slack, and small and medium-sized enterprises generate most private sector growth.
Britain’s previous government was also full of warm words about entrepreneurs, but it is difficult to recall a single occasion when, given a straight choice between enterprise and ideology, government backed enterprise. OK, they did reduce the rate of capital gains tax but the politics of envy won out and a ridiculous cap was placed on lifetime gains.
Cameron has yet to prove he is any different. Though what he says is obviously true – any economy is only as strong as its entrepreneurs – he has put all the blame on bureaucrats.
Though bureaucrats have been, and remain, the source of much needless grief and forfeit of economic opportunity, the more pressing problems are the regulations governments have given them to enforce and the burdens of tax all businesses face.
After the best part of a year in power, Cameron has done nothing substantial to reduce these problems.
On the contrary, the first time he was offered that choice between enterprise and ideology, he went the same route his immediate predecessors would have gone, when he decided to implement their notorious Equality Act despite vigorous protests of the whole business community.
It was the only real test to date of his seriousness about business – and he failed it.
We are not asking for government handouts or special treatment or gimmicky programmes. All we want is to be allowed to do what government is asking us to do.
Alas, though, the government has tied its own hands. It has made foolish policy announcements in support of tax rates that penalise success and ‘family friendly’ policies that translate into anti-business employee rights legislation. Added to that, it continues to support international treaties its predecessors signed that do little more than make our economy uncompetitive.
Mr Cameron’s words are still welcome, though he has a long way to go if he wants to prove that they are any more than just words. He has told us the forthcoming budget will be the “most pro-growth [Britian] has seen for a generation".
Somehow, we know we’re going to be disappointed.