THE BLOG

How to Keep the American Dream Alive

07/03/2014 08:11 pm ET | Updated Sep 02, 2014

The genesis of modern American history -- the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 -- signaled to the world the birth of a new country that would abide by the principles of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." It emphatically stated that America would move forward with a spirit of revolution in order to secure these rights. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, we should also celebrate the spirit of innovation that is vital to the continued progress and strength of our country.

So far, 2014 has been unkind to innovation. From coast to coast, disruptive innovators are battling entrenched industries. Cities like Seattle and Miami have tried to block app-based ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft - an effort to protect the status quo enjoyed by entrenched taxicab companies. The New York Attorney General recently demanded to see information on those using Airbnb to share their homes. And in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Aereo, saying the company violated copyright laws by providing consumers with a way to access free, over-the-air television broadcasts on their computers or mobile devices, effectively shutting down service in several cities.

These setbacks should inspire entrepreneurs of all stripes to stand up in defense of the freedom to innovate. Like our Founding Fathers, we must press on with the ingenuity, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that are vital to America's success. More, our leaders must recognize that innovation is critical to our country's global leadership and economic growth. Public policies that support skilled immigration reform, deficit reduction and broadcast deployment are key to our future prosperity.

A recent study by the National Foundation of American Policy shows that immigrants have played an increasingly valuable role in contributing to science and engineering advancements in the U.S. Their entrepreneurship and technological innovation can improve and strengthen our society. We should welcome the world's best and brightest by making it easier for immigrants to come here not only to study, but also to work, prosper and innovate.

We need to cut the deficit and prioritize spending. The government is undermining America's strength by refusing to address the growing federal deficit. Officials should focus on smart spending practices that will help the country recover its financial stability. Instead of protecting failed businesses, the government should create an environment where entrepreneurs and innovators can thrive. Congress should encourage capital investment in young companies and clear away burdensome regulations that hamper growth without providing any positive returns for consumers.

Finally, we need a policy that recognizes the rapid evolution in technology and growth of the Internet of Things. Today, only six percent of Americans rely exclusively on free, over-the-air broadcast television to watch their favorite programming. But major broadcasting companies still control huge swaths of public spectrum to distribute that over-the-air signal. Meanwhile, 64 percent of U.S. households own at least one smartphone, and tablets are in almost half of U.S. households. Freeing up spectrum to improve mobile services will help innovators meet the demands of consumers to access content when and where they choose.

To maintain our place as a world leader, we must continue to work toward greatness. If our government forgets that it is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, if it tries to trample on the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit by enacting policies and regulations unwelcoming to innovative technology, products and services, then the government is violating the principles on which America was founded.

We cannot be satisfied with the status quo. Americans should celebrate the independence and freedoms that have allowed our nation to realize greatness. Our patriotic duty is to make sure America does not waver from this course. We should continue to challenge ourselves to improve our lives. We should perpetuate the innovative spirit of our immigrant forefathers who sought a better life. Innovation will keep the American dream alive and within reach.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.