By Dick Meyer
Scripps Washington Bureau.
According to a 2013 survey by scholars at Baylor University, entrepreneurs “are more likely to believe in an engaged, responsive God who takes a personal interest in them” than the rest of us. They pray more and believe their prayers are answered more.
The faith of entrepreneurs is contagious. Americans have developed an unquestioning faith in the virtue of people who start businesses. Today we venerate entrepreneurs. We worship them. Or maybe we just have a crush on them. We spare them the criticism and skepticism we heap on other vocations.
There are less worthy vessels for our ardor. It is mildly heartening to know we’re still capable of admiration at a time when our confidence in most professions and institutions is so low.
But it’s gotten out of hand, this glorification of entrepreneurs and startups. It’s mythmaking. Other worthy vocations are getting cheated (not journalists, by the way and for the record).
Who gets more of our love than entrepreneurs?
Polls show Americans trust and admire doctors and nurses the most, the people who directly take care of us. Their incomes haven’t kept pace with our tender feelings.
We gawk at athletes, entertainers and talentless, generic celebrities. We might even envy them, but we don’t give them unmitigated respect and confidence. Trust in the clergy, members of Congress, journalists and big business people has crashed since the 1970s.
I can’t recall learning about heroes of commerce in school. Inventors such as Thomas Edison were heroes because of their brains and contributions, not their eventual fortunes.
We did learn about great moguls such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford, but we also learned about the downside of the Industrial Revolution and labor movement. It wasn’t hero worship.
I can’t recall any great admiration for the biggest self-made zillionaires when I was in high school and college in the 1970s, except for maybe Hugh Hefner, who my pals probably did worship. Howard Hughes was certainly famous, but he was loopy by then.