Making Smart Decisions Even When the Government Isn't

You can't dictate pay rates and not have the best and brightest jump to somewhere else where they are properly rewarded. You can't force companies to compete against government-run competitors who get to write the rules of engagement and expect the private competitors to stay in the game. And you can't expect private industry to save you after you've wrapped it in chains of regulation, crippled it with taxes and excoriated it as criminal.

I stopped gambling when I realized that no matter how long a win streak you enjoy that eventually the laws of chance reassert themselves. The same is true with the U.S. economy today: we're stretching it now and a nasty snap back lies in our future.

Another storm, I fear, is heading our way – and we risk being orphans caught within it. But I've learned one more lesson, this one from David Packard and Bill Hewlett (and Thomas Jefferson):

4. Trust in the ingenuity of everyday folks.

The American people will get us out of this mess. Through the election process, of course, but I'll leave all of that political stuff to the pundits. What I mean is that people like you and me are already figuring out ways on their own to get through these hard times. Much of it has to do with technology. Why pay to rent an office when you can run your business off a laptop and a Blackberry? Why pay for cable and phone in the age of Skype and Hulu?

How many people out there are building small enterprises off Facebook, eBay and Craigslist? Or marketing with Twitter? Or designing apps for the iPhone or Android?

Meanwhile, the tools are in place to form small (150 people or less) sub-markets in which you buy and sell – or barter -- from each other, or team up to buy common items at discount. Or to team up and sell your services around the world virtually. Or move somewhere else where the taxes aren't so onerous, and still keep your current clients.

And why keep working past the point when the government takes it all away? Why not use the remaining time – and a good network on some place like LinkedIn – to try your hand at entrepreneurship and build a virtual start-up company? And when inflation hits, you may find you make more money sitting at home at your computer arbitraging and investing the wealth you have than actually working for an ever-less valuable paycheck.

In other words, even if Washington no longer believes you can make intelligent decisions for yourself, it doesn't mean you can't make them anyway. And even if our leaders have chosen to be foolish, it doesn't mean that you can't choose to be wise.

This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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