I’m back in England for a few days before heading on to the Netherlands. The 15th MedTech Investment Europe conference is going on at the King’s Fund in Cavandish Square. It’s a networking affair for high-net-worth angels and startup companies looking for money, leavened with expert discussions of markets, exits, and risks. I was asked to lead a panel discussing Healthcare Innovation, then was asked to chair the entire conference, so it was a nice chance to frame some ideas for audience discussion.
Aside: The organizers put my academic credentials ahead of my business ones, which resulted in several participants asking if I could help get their child into Cambridge. I wish…
The American election was thrumming in the background, with Mitt Romney’s video capturing the news cycle: “47% of the people are dependent on government, believe they are victims…and pay no income tax”. I’m amused to find that, as an expat who pays no US taxes and takes government help to start my business, I’m among the 47% that Mitt writes off. I commented on Facebook about this and got a good peppering of replies from friends on the right and left, thoughtful and probing. The FT also had a good takedown of the Governor’s comments.
In some ways, I should be in Mitt’s natural constituency. I’m a small business owner, earning enough to self-fund an expatriate lifestyle, avoiding high 35% US corporate taxes, believing in the returns to both the individual and society of hard work, individual creativity, and financial initiative.
And there’s no question that I’m disillusioned with President Obama. He’s compromised on principle, caved to pressure, utterly failed to make the case for causes that he eloquently and passionately spoke about during the campaign.
I’ve registered as an Overseas Voter (if you haven’t, the OVF can help) and have received my ballot by email from my home county (still amazing that I can Internet-vote by absentee. My Dutch friends say that if they can’t vote in person, they must give their proxy to someone else to vote for them, an even more curious arrangement!).
But I just can’t vote for Mitt.
One reason is the sad social state of the Republican party. As much as it’s pro-business policies might appeal, it’s cultural intolerance, parochial viewpoints, and and loopy slogans are both embarrassing and anachronistic.
The other is that I believe in practicing civic virtues of compassion, conservation, and investment, establishing infrastructure and promoting cooperation that drives progress and ensures opportunity and fairness.
Having both something to be against and something to before tips the balance left, perhaps against my own self-interest, and into the 47%. I won’t vote for the President no matter what, but I haven’t heard anything yet that changes my mind.
But, Mitt, I’m still listening.