Yesterday I wrote about the fact that an unpredictable over-powerful government and excessive regulations can quash the desire of young people to be creative and work hard.
I think there is an opportunity here for states and countries to attract more young people, both by fostering the flourishing of small businesses. While the Federal government unfortunately continues to grow in power, the fact is that some states are more free than other states.
This is a cool site where you can rank states based on freedom and weight things that you care about. New Hampshire and many Western (but not West coast) states rank pretty high no matter how you slide things.
New York ranks pretty badly. The fact we have so many innovative things here is a testament to the value of urban concentration, but even while I've lived here, I've seen many small businesses and small farms go under thanks to regulation or government persecution. That's one of many reasons I didn't want to build a business here. And one of the reasons I think upstate is so economically depressed and why many young folks in NYC consider themselves temporary residents.
This might seem small, but one of my favorite markets was the Greenpoint food market. It was full of interesting and innovative micro-businesses created in the "gig economy." I used to buy all kinds of interesting food and crafts there, until word got out and the health department shut it down because some food wasn't made in government-approved kitchens. You can argue about those regulations all day, but I think if they are going to have that kind of burden, there should be more public-funding for projects that help small businesses get around the extremely capital-intensive regulations. Some of these do exist already- there is a commercial kitchen you can rent in Long Island City and it has helped some of the businesses kicked out of the market go on to become legitimate.
I think that's also why the freedom rankings have some limitations, because there are states that rank kind of badly, but still manage to encourage innovation. Public funding towards things like kitchen incubators and agricultural extensions can make a difference, though it comes along with higher taxes. And individual towns even have the power to attract small food businesses, such as a town in Maine that declared food sovereignty.
Beyond our borders, I think small countries that are experiencing brain-drain or that are just developing might be posed to attract educated innovative immigrant "pioneers" through favorable policies. I already know some people my age who have moved to SE Asia and others that have invested in African countries like Rwanda (bad reputation, but the government is trying to rebuild). Unfortunately in Eastern Europe the EU is destroying freedom and the ability for Americans to invest, but perhaps that will be broken by their recent crisis since it's clear a lot of these countries really need investment. Iceland and parts of Canada are also contenders.
Of course this requires that young people be wiling to be pioneers and move somewhere new, but I figure that's something Americans are pretty decent at already.