A Case for the Freedom to Disrupt

A Case for the Freedom to Disrupt
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We live in an increasingly connected society, filled with new opportunities to develop and incorporate technologies that connect us with the world and make life easier for everyday Americans. Unfortunately, the technologies that drive innovation are often hampered by municipal, state and federal governments, including some politicians who believe in antiquated trade protection policies that punish new and evolving industries at the expense of serving consumer or business needs.

Take Uber for example. Perhaps one of the best transportation innovations in our generation, Uber gives everyday drivers the opportunity to make money by serving as cab drivers -- and it gives everyday passengers an easy way to secure transportation, at a fraction of the cost of traditional cab services. It's been an economical option for consumers -- and big government doesn't always like that. In many states, cab companies have hired expensive lobbyists to push Uber out of the industry, trying to force Uber to raise its prices to be more comparable to cabs, and making it harder for new cars and drivers to get on the road.

Uber is far from an isolated example of the status quo working against innovators. Tesla Motors is encountering similar roadblocks in its efforts to sell innovative, high-quality electric cars. Although Tesla vehicles have received a multitude of awards for their quality and innovation, the vehicles are not available for purchase in many states, due to outdated laws designed to protect automotive dealers' profits at the expense of American consumers. The powerful automotive lobby is supporting dealers' efforts to keep Tesla products off the road, in order to guard their market share.

Uber and Tesla aren't the only examples of expensive lobbyists and state and D.C. politicians working against American innovation. The banking industry saw a disruption of its lending business with the emergence of online marketplace lenders who connected borrowers to their desired loans with far greater ease than was previously available. As an early founder of an online lending company, I described my decision to close that business in a commentary titled "Open Letter to the Online Lending Community" published in The Hill. As I stated then,

Several years ago I made the decision to shutter my online lending business after the inconsistency and ambiguity between state and local regulations made it impossible to operate without expensive, time-consuming legal challenges from regulators outside of our jurisdiction.

But innovation drives innovation. When we allow politicians and lobbyists to decide that innovating and expanding businesses using internet technologies is illegal, we stifle the opportunity for the next generation of tech entrepreneurs to develop apps and systems that make our lives easier and our communities better. In an education system that now teaches coding to kids as young as five, this sends the wrong message to a generation that just wants to help the world. As my children grow up, I want them to be encouraged to innovate and to create better alternatives to the current market options. I don't want them to grow up in a world that vilifies entrepreneurship, or uses lobbyists and politicians to implement laws that will make it harder for them to take risks and start new businesses. After all, this is America, right?

The world has become connected and we can't be afraid of innovation -- we certainly can't legislate away the American drive to create, improve, and connect our world, advancing the services that we use every day. It's up to us, the Innovation Generation, to fight back against government interference that stifles our ability to provide the services American families and businesses rely on at increasingly lower costs and higher quality.

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