What should you do if you want to become a savior of mankind?

Start a business that goes on to prosper.

We’ve become so used to anti-business rhetoric and the notion that it’s nobler to go into the non-profit world that this is counterintuitive. There is a great piece in Forbes by Richard Kaalgard that explains:

Carl Schramm, who heads America’s top entrepreneurial think tank, the Kauffman Foundation, has a stunningly good insight into what causes an economy to grow. Growth, he says, is directly correlated to startups that get big. I interviewed Schramm onstage last week at a Churchill Club event at Microsoft’s Silicon campus in Mountain View.

Schramm said: “The single most important contributor to a nation’s economic growth is the number of startups that grow to a billion dollars in revenue within 20 years.”

Starting a business may do as much to save the planet as joining a think tank (I can say this because I toil in the thinking field)! Kaalgard goes on:

Yes, we want our large multinational companies – the Apples and IBMs, Walmarts and Exxon Mobils – to be successful. But their success, while necessary for a healthy economy, won’t grow the economy much more than a Western Europe-like 2% per year (a rate of growth, as we’ve learned, that feels moribund to an American).

Yes, we also want millions of Americans following their dreams and starting cottage businesses that support their needs and their lifestyles. But a proliferation of cottage businesses won’t push the country past 3.3% growth, either.

Schramm is arguing for a hundred plus companies every year. The article states that any immigrant who graduates from college or starts a business should get a green card.

But the administration, in addition to sending an anti-business message, is trying to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on just the sort of folks who are engaged in such businesses. Sounds like ideology trumps growth in today’s Washington.