Recapturing the Spirit of Enterprise

By George Gilder | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

One day in the depths of the recession of 1982 I returned to my home in the Berkshires in Massachusetts from a conference of economists who were almost unanimously predicting stagnation or collapse as the fate of the U.S. economy. On the main street of Stockbridge I met my friend Whitmore (Nick) Kelley, who had taken his small paper company, kicking and screaming, into the computer age--from rudimentary paper cutting and preparation into the development of wipers and other gear for semiconductor industry clean rooms. He was beaming. I asked him what was the matter, didn't he know about the great depression ahead? "If this is a depression, give me more," he said. All he knew was that he had so many orders at Berkshire Corporation he couldn't begin to fill them.

It occurred to me at the time that Nick Kelley's smile was a better leading indicator of economic prospects than all the aggregate numbers I had heard recited at the conference. I had told the conference that the country was in the midst of a great entrepreneurial boom that would ensure rapid growth and progress for the next decade. Yet the economists were totally uninterested in the statistics I presented on venture capital and new business starts. It was obvious to me that the United States was leading the world move into the computer technologies of the new age-- indeed, that was the reason for the booming demand for clean- room wipers. But the eminent economists quoted statistics of lagging capital formation and sluggish productivity and depicted the U.S. economy as a slough of declining innovation. It seemed to me that the experts in economics not only were ignorant of the entrepreneurial dimension of the economy but were uninterested

-vii-

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