Bad Times Spur Entrepreneurship, But There's a Catch

Dan Gillmor is a BoingBoing guest-blogger.

The recession is leading lots of out-of-work folks to try new things, reports the Times:

Economists say that when the economy takes a dive, it is common for people to turn to their inner entrepreneur to try to make their own work. But they say that it takes months for that mentality to sink in, and that this is about the time in the economic cycle when it really starts to happen – when the formerly employed realize that traditional job searches are not working, and that they are running out of time and money.

Mark V. Cannice, executive director of the entrepreneurship program at the University of San Francisco, calls the phenomenon “forced entrepreneurship.”

“If there is a silver lining, the large-scale downsizing from major companies will release a lot of new entrepreneurial talent and ideas – scientists, engineers, business folks now looking to do other things,” Mr. Cannice said. “It’s a Darwinian unleashing of talent into the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

That's great. Except for one thing, which the article completely misses: You won't find too many people in their middle ages or older in this category. Why? Because they can't get health insurance. America's health-care system makes it all but impossible for an older worker to try something new.

Even younger startup owners who are relatively healthy and have insurance are just a half-step from disaster. The insurance industry is in the business of not paying claims whenever possible, after all, and health insurers are working hardest to find ways not to cover people who might get sick even as they deny as many claims as possible from people who've been paying premiums.

The day we have national health care is the day that we unleash a wave of entrepreneurship the likes of which we've never seen before. That's one of the best reasons for moving toward such a system.

Loading...