[Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak] who launched one of America’s great computer firms [Apple] from the garage behind their house…. You, too, can become leaders in this great new era of progress—the age of the entrepreneur.”
Today, of course, it is much harder to claim that lowering the capital-gains tax reduces inequality by “spreading the base of ownership,” or that lowering the rate on stock options is “vital to the maintenance of the competitive position of small companies versus large companies.” Whatever the benefits of those policies, the proliferation of billionaire brogrammers and the rise of Big Tech confirm that more economic equality and greater competitiveness between firms are probably not among them.
It is no small irony that framing entrepreneurship as an engine of inclusive growth helped concentrate more economic power in the hands of fewer people; that’s just how powerful the mythologies of Silicon Valley have been. Armed today with an understanding of how they pulled it off, activists and reformers should write new stories that promote, rather than undermine, a more equitable balance between economic individualism and inclusiveness. They need the right narrative for the moment.