Tall ceilings, tile floors, huge walls of windows and glass doors looking out over beautifully kept gardens set the feel of the place. It’s called the Duke Mansion for a reason; it’s a mansion. Along with about a dozen others I sat at an exquisite dining table at a breakout session listening to a successful entrepreneur give advice to younger business men and women.
My mind was reviewing what I was going to say when I was next up, but suddenly the speaker’s story grabbed my attention. Paul, the entrepreneur speaking, had started his business in his spare bedroom about 17 years ago and grown it to $4 million plus in revenue. His specialty was providing just the right equipment to commercial printers to make their products exceptional.
Paul’s company is the largest distributor of a disposable steel product that needs to be replaced every day (a brilliant business model!). The manufacturer is in Sweden, so Paul has developed a close relationship with them and visits at least once or twice a year. What caught my attention was when Paul started talking about the beauty, the cleanliness, the culture and the lifestyle of the people of the country and how eviable it all seems.
So often when I’m around entrepreneurial business owners, I’m struck by how “conservative” they are. My bet is that for many of them, in college they were much more progressive in their beliefs. As they got older and successful, suddenly the government that helped create the circumstances and infrastructure of their success is the enemy. No interference is tolerated and no amount of tax is small enough to satisfy the successful ones now.
Paul’s politics are unknown. He didn’t talk about them at all. However, he did speak with hushed reverence for the life that the Swedes have created with their high taxes, social safety nets, great education and healthcare for all, you know, all those evils of socialism the “conservatives” rail against. It is clear to me after having done international business for a number of years, that more of us would like to have a Swedish way of life, despite the inevitable fact that Sweden, like any country, has it’s problems and disparities.
The form of capitalism now afoot in the U.S. is pernicious and malignant. The divide between the haves and have nots in this country has not been higher in nearly a century. 300 people around the world control as much of the wealth as 3 billion of the rest of world. This is not a sustainable model! While both socialism and capitalism have their excesses throughout history, it is proven that such inequality does not have a happy end.