“I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.” Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney

Is Suite H33, Kirkland House at Harvard University the most famous dorm room in the nation?

Or maybe it is located in Dobie House at the University of Texas in Austin?

Or should we focus instead on a garage, maybe one located in Palo Alto, California?

As we struggle to escape the clutches of an increasingly stubborn economic downturn, perhaps we should be looking for a new kind a “stimulus” in the form of more dreamers, achievers, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Mark Zuckerberg wrote the algorithms as seen in the film, The Social Network, that would eventually turn into Facebook on a whiteboard in a cluttered Harvard dorm room in 2003. Today, Facebook has more than 800 million subscribers, making this social media community the third largest “country” in the world. More than 3,000 people work for Facebook and a potential second quarter IPO is in the offing. If so, it will be the ultimate ka-ching.

kirkland

Michael Dell started building and selling his own brand of computers for fellow UT classmates for under $1,000 each in 1983. There was no need for a middle man, and thus a business strategy was born. Today, Dell has $61.7 billion in annual revenues, a market cap (share price x number of shares) of $28.5 billion and employs 100,300 worldwide.

Bill Hewlett and David Packard started in 1937 what would eventually become Hewlett Packard in a tiny one car garage at 367 Addison Street in Palo Alto, CA.  To many this little garage is considered to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley. Today, HP is one of the largest technology companies on the planet with $127 billion in revenues, a market cap of $52.5 billion and employing almost 350,000 souls worldwide.

Certainly these are not the only entrepreneurs that have been successful as there are many more, some of them coming to America without the ability to speak English, but they all had the capacity to dream.

For more than a decade, I worked for one of those entrepreneurs, Wilfred J. Corrigan. He is now the fifth most famous person to hail from Liverpool, UK. No one knew him when he came to America with no income, flying his bride from the fjords of her native Norway to the Sonoran Deserts of Arizona. He worked on the assembly line for Motorola in Phoenix. Eventually, Wilf became the CEO of Fairchild; later losing the company in a hostile takeover attempt. He spent a year under a no-compete contract. And then started LSI Logic in 1981.

Wilf Corrigan, CEO of LSI Logic

The company eventually grew to $2.7 billion in revenues with 7,700 employees and made the essential processor for the two generations of the Sony Play Station. It all started with a dream. And as a result of Wilf’s dream, thousands were working directly (employees) or indirectly (e.g. distributors, partners, suppliers) and thousands of B2B customers and their customers were being served (e.g. video game players among others). Wilf succeeded, failed and succeeded again. He is part of the 1 percent that you may have read about.

As we survey the economic landscape looking for answers, there are some who believe the key lies in leveling the playing field, particularly those who achieve. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

According to the independent Tax Policy Center, 46 percent or about 76 million will not be liable for federal income taxes in 2011. That’s a whole lot of people for whatever reason, who are not achieving, some of which could be achieving a whole lot more. Granted, the ones who are employed are paying payroll taxes and contributing to Social Security.

What would happen if this 55-45 percent taxpaying to no taxpaying ratio was shifted to a 65-35 percent taxpaying to no taxpaying ratio under existing tax rates? What would happen if for example, 20 million more Americans were liable for federal income taxes without raising or lowering rates? What would be positive net income to the federal Treasury? If these 20 million would earn enough to pay taxes, would they also increase their own economic activity? What impact would that increased activity have on the federal Treasury, but also the account statements for states and municipalities?

After 15 years working in the Silicon Valley, I learned to believe in innovation and entrepreneurship. The net results are good products, good paying direct and indirect jobs. The ideas are out there. There are also risks. As a result, some will succeed and some will fail. That is the tyranny of the marketplace, but it is also the opportunity. We need to start listening to the conversations and ideas germinating from dorm rooms and garages. Who knows, the next Facebook, Dell or Hewlett Packard may be taking form.

And with these new ideas turned into new companies comes more job opportunities for the 46 percent that are not liable for federal income taxes.

Sure beats throwing money at a Bridge to Nowhere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB95KLmpLR4

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/sep/12/social-network-facebook-mark-zuckerberg

http://www.kirkland.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do

http://content.dell.com/us/en/corp/brand-entrepreneurship

http://www.cs.utexas.edu/news-events/news/2011/michael-dell-speaks-during-return-campus

http://www.biography.com/people/michael-dell-9542199

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_Garage

http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/14/pf/taxes/who_pays_income_taxes/index.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/28/46-percent-of-americans-e_n_886293.html

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2005/10/the-bridge-to-nowhere-a-national-embarrassment

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