HE AMERICAN DREAM HAS BEEN taking its lumps lately. Researchers tell us that the gap
between rich and poor, by some measures, is three times wider than it was just 30
years ago. Worse, only half of today’s Americans in their 30s earn more than their
parents did at the same age, compared with more than 90 percent of that group a
generation or two ago. Pessimism reigns: We now know that if you call the United
States a “hellhole,” so many voters will agree that you can become president.
You could let that depress you. But I suggest you first read this issue of Inc.
Consider our cover subject, Armir Harris, an Albanian refugee who taught
himself English and programming, and whose company, Shofur, has grown
almost 10,500 percent in three years. Or Chris Rickerson, a high school dropout
with drug problems who recovered to found Elite Sta;ng Solutions of Wichita,
Kansas, which employs 2,400 people and has grown more than 2,500 percent. Both
are practically poster kids for the American Dream.
500 Dreams Come True. Are You Listening, Washington?
For sheer American ingenuity, consider Andrew
Paradise, CEO and co-founder of this year’s No. 1
Inc. 500 company, Skillz, which is helping with the
development of nothing less than a new industry,
e-sports. In the process, Paradise has increased
revenue by more than 50,000 percent. Collectively,
he and his fellow Inc. 500 innovators have created
more than 49,000 jobs since 2013 and added
$9.4 billion to last year’s GDP.
It makes you wish that they were making
economic policy, doesn’t it? That’s our feeling,
anyway, so we asked our 500 CEOs what they
would like to see from lawmakers. The answers
We learned that Inc. 500 founders, while
significantly more likely to be Republican than
Democrat, are hard to pin to any one dogma. Yes,
they overwhelmingly support lower tax rates
on business. And why not? Ours are among the
highest in the world. On the other hand, they want
Washington to focus more on allowing talented
immigrants into the country than on banning the
undocumented, by a three-to-one margin. And they
are twice as likely to want to reform the health
care law than to repeal it. As much as anything else,
they want Washington to stop bickering and to
create a stable environment in which growing
businesses can plan ahead.
Maybe that’s just how you think if you see the
American economy as a place of opportunity rather
than as a zero-sum game. The Inc. 500 told us they
think determination, risk taking, and vision were
the keys to their success, and I believe them.
Reading their stories, it’s hard to accept all that
depressing research and campaign rhetoric as
destiny. The Inc. 500 are the most persuasive
evidence I know that the American Dream is
still alive. See if you agree.
Eric Schurenberg firstname.lastname@example.org