Entrepreneurship vs. politics

From Arnold Kling’s Fantasy Despot Syndrome*:

Consider the story of Kemmons Wilson, which can be found in David Halberstam’s historical retrospective, The Fifties:

Some motels, Wilson later recalled, were godawful; some were very pleasant. The only way you could tell which was which was to see for yourself … Wilson was enraged to find that every motel charged extra for children. The fee was usually $2 per child, even though his children had brought their own bedrolls … Even worse, there was rarely a place to eat nearby, and so he and his family would have to pile back into the car and hunt for a decent family restaurant.

Day by day on the trip, Wilson became more irritated until he finally turned to his wife, Dorothy, and announced that he was going to go into the motel business … “How many of these motels are you going to build?” she asked nervously. He felt she was laughing at him. “Oh, about four hundred,” he answered. “That ought to cover the country.” “And,” he added, “if I never do anything else worth remembering in my life, children are going to stay free at my motels.”

Wilson did not call for a regulatory agency to ensure that all motels were pleasant for families. He did not seek legislation requiring that children sleep free in motels. Instead, he created Holiday Inn, the first national motel chain.

*Fantasy Despot Syndrome defined (also from Kling’s article):

“Wherever people discover that money is being spent, either privately or by public officials, they commonly develop opinions on how it ought to be spent … each person thus becomes his own fantasy despot, disposing of others and their resources as he or she thinks desirable.”  — Kenneth Minogue, The Servile Mind

Ah, but it’s so much easier to talk about it than to do something.



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