Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


July 10, 2017


As Americans joined with family and friends to celebrate the 4th of July last week, we had an opportunity to set aside our divisions and focus on those things that unite us and set our nation apart. Among those are the principles of free enterprise that have allowed America to become the most dynamic, prosperous, innovative, and opportunity-rich economy on the planet. It’s up to all of us to ensure that those principles not only survive but thrive.

One of the foundations of our free enterprise system is the right to take a risk, start a business, fail, and try again. This right has enabled millions of Americans to build their own success stories from the ground up. It has allowed them to pursue a dream, taste the thrill of achievement, and feel proud that they did it through their own pluck and hard work. And when there are failures along the way, they make eventual success and achievement that much sweeter.

The right to risk, fail, and try again underpins American innovation. When anyone—from a parent working out of her spare bedroom to a college student in his dorm room to an immigrant with a big idea—can take a risk and launch a business, the result is widespread creativity and a constant churn of good ideas rising to the top. It keeps established businesses on their toes and capital flowing into our communities. It also leads to jobs and economic growth—not to mention cutting-edge products and services for consumers.

Unfortunately, the right to take a risk is itself at risk. It has been undermined by a government that interferes too readily and too often in the marketplace, distorting the forces of choice and competition that must drive a free and fair economy. When government tips the scales against new competitors in favor of established players or enacts laws and regulations that raise barriers to entry, it deters new entrants into a field.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made it our mission to support and defend the principles that underlie our free enterprise economy, including the right to take a risk. If America is to remain prosperous, we need to encourage all our playmakers to take the field and try their hand at success. Our free enterprise system must be an arena where all Americans have a chance to try and try again. The Chamber looks forward to keeping up the fight on behalf of that system in the months and years to come.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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