Innovators of tomorrow need the freedom to pursue dreams

Every generation has an American hero — an individual who perseveres, failure after failure, but then ultimately succeeds in making his or her vision a reality. We love these champions because they experience the same trials and tragedies of life but overcome them in ways that seem super-human. Steve Jobs embodied this American dream, and his success can teach us all about the fundamental American qualities that lead to innovation, prosperity and jobs.

Steve Jobs was many things to many people, but his legacy in the American economy will be that of the great entrepreneur. He began his life’s work with a vision to make something that was mechanical and complicated into something beautiful. His vision, like all great innovators, was to create something that would make people’s lives better while at the same time, enjoying the journey toward making it happen.

It is an amazing thing that generation after generation, the American spirit lives and grows in new ways. From the Puritans to the pioneers, the Edisons to the Fords and Gateses, Americans have preserved and prospered through risk and perseverance. And with each success, millions more were able to share in this progress with newly created jobs.

We have been blessed to live in a nation that gives these innovators the ability to take a chance and encourage them to succeed. We teach about their triumphs and tragedies and look into the gazing eyes of younger generations who wonder, “could that be me someday?” And then we ourselves look to the great companies they founded and take pride in being a part of the value it has created for our society.

What makes America and its free-enterprise system second to none is its ability to allow this creative flow of innovation and success to thrive. The entrepreneur with a new idea is given the freedom to take risks and create an entire new industry that future generations will look back on (and wonder how we ever lived without it).

This same entrepreneurial drive applies to established businesses just as much as new upstarts. If a business is to grow and prosper, it must constantly come up with new products and services that are more efficient and create new value. The more successful they are, the more the company grows, and with this growth comes the need for more workers.

Yet I worry about the damage being done to the innovators of tomorrow. This chain of the job creation process has been fundamentally altered and abused over the last several years and explains the miserable employment numbers we see today. The government has changed its mission from being the protectors of job creators and innovators to being their worst enemy.

President Obama is trying to construct artificially innovation and jobs by punishing the very people who create them. With plans to raise taxes and increase our debt, he is further restricting the flow of the free market and perpetuating uncertainty. His “bold” ideas include more of the same — borrow more, spend more, regulate more. To small businesses and entrepreneurs, this begs the questions “borrow from whom,” “spend where,” “regulate what”? The innovator is left with their ideas and advancement determined by some unknown bureaucrat and not the consumers who will ultimately determine their worth.

You can’t foster innovation without passion, risk and reward.

Steve Jobs, like generations of entrepreneurs before him, succeeded in spite of these burdens. From the beginning, Jobs had passion, so much so that it could make him hard to work for. He was driven to perfection, demanding of engineers, and made so much seem impossible. His desires were fueled like most job creators, not toward greed and profit, but making something new that was great and made people’s lives better.

We cannot dictate which innovations, industries, and inventors deserve the support and protection of the federal government. We must instead give them the chance to try, and hopefully one day get to experience many more everyday miracles from creators like Steve Jobs.

Ellmers, a registered nurse for more than 21 years, is chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee’s subcommittee on Healthcare and Technology.