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7/9/2018 9:35:00 AM
OPINION: Losers and Lost Causes

Morton J. Marcus is an economist formerly with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.  His column appears in Indiana newspapers, and his views can be followed on a podcast: His column appears in Indiana newspapers.

          Recently we have heard too much dispirited talk about losers and how they cannot win. This is true for political candidates, businesses (whether old-line or startups with innovations), sports teams and social causes.

          We’ve been told, “Don’t give him/her any money for his/her campaign. S/He has no chance of winning in that district.”

          And we’ve heard, “Don’t waste your credibility by getting involved with that movement; it can’t go anywhere.”

          “Rooting for them is a waste of time and energy.”

          “That’s a business model from a different time, a time that’s passed. Don’t feed a dead horse.”

          “Folks are just too set in their ways and this will never fly.”

          We’ve heard these and other discouragements from friends or experts who are “in-the-know.” But who lit the fires of enthusiasm and success in the last ten years? Obama, Sanders, and Trump. Each very different, but each a major force in the minds of Americans. Each disparaged as a hopeless loser, yet each ignited fiery movements.

          Uber and Lyft would never be successful nor would hybrid or all-electric cars like the Prius or Tesla. Self-driving cars were fantasies with no chance, yet major corporations are investing heavily in them and progressive governments are preparing for their universal introduction.

          Isn’t it time to get involved, to make a contribution, a commitment? Don’t settle for the “inevitable,” but push hard for the “impossible.” When we are pleased or displeased with the direction of the nation, it’s urgent to focus, not on Washington, but on the Congressional candidates in our state, particularly on those who “don’t stand a chance.”

          The same applies to our ineffective, often ridiculous Indiana General Assembly where 100 representatives and 25 senators are to be elected this November. Most will be re-elected because they sit in “safe” seats. But with effort, innovation, and money, no seat is safe.

          Likewise, now is the time to think seriously about the Mayors and the City Councilors in the primaries and elections of 2019. Incumbents aren’t bad, but there are bad incumbents.

          Today is the day to ask what your community needs to do, if anything, about economic development. You and I have no idea how much thinking, if any, is being done in business and government about this issue. Similarly, we don’t know, because we don’t ask, “How much money is being spent and should be spent, privately and publicly, on improving our communities?”

          Why don’t we ask? Perhaps we think it’s an issue for the few, the locally connected, powerful people. Worse, we think the future is a lost cause.

          No efforts, no candidates are losers if they make people think and inspire action. Society changes slowly and often the thoughts of “guaranteed losers” triumph.

          In politics, as elsewhere, success can be bought. Your dollars and your time can accelerate the changes you want.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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