A fetish for sticks and bricks.
Everyone wants to support innovators and entrepreneurs. But in 2014, they don’t need “sticks and bricks”, or beautiful buildings that just create bureaucracy and overhead.
Big, fancy buildings are completely unnecessary and probably counter-productive for supporting entrepreneurship. They are a waste of money, lock government into hiring and spending and trying to fill space, and distract time, energy and attention away from what they should be doing.
There is a lot that government can do to support entrepreneurs, and I don’t just mean ‘low taxes’. I actually believe that the state can and should play and active useful role. Entrepreneurs need support, training, mentoring, encouragement. There is a role for the public sector in fostering and supporting the community that makes successful entrepeneurship more likely. Training about relevant business issues is a public good, and the government can and should provide it (for instance, training about the basics of intellectual property rights is an excellent example of a public good that government can provide to support entrepreneurs).
However, ave all, entrepreneurs need to live in a culture that supports and encourages entrepreneurs, hard work and risk-taking, and not in a culture that rewards taking the easy way out, wasting taxes on unnecessary items.
Wasting money on big, beautiful, empty buildings like the MaRS Discovery District is completely counter-productive. It sends the message that ribbon cutting and image-polishing and is far more important than the hard, substantive work of helping people to create and build wealth.
That’s my rant – I look forward to your comments.