America is gripped by an unfortunate condition: Fear of failure. We saw it in TARP. We saw it in the bailout of the Big Three UAW. We see it in loan guarantees everywhere, and in regulations meant to eliminate every possible risk known to mankind.

But the road to a better life is often filled with potholes, detours, and failure.

Steve Jobs has given the world an easier way of using computers (not just Apple computers, but PCs as well), the iPhone, the iPad, and several very popular movies (Toy Story, Cars, etc.) that have created heroes for countless children. And for those developments, Jobs was rewarded handsomely, in money, fame, and personal satisfaction with his work.

But Jobs also knew failure. A publication from Australia points out ten of his flops, including one, a “stunning failure” that played a key role in the development of the world wide web (upon which you’re reading these comments.)

IT News says, “Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Jobs’ life and the one most likely overlooked in the gushing obituaries of his more recent successes was his ability to sustain failure, a key trait of great entrepreneurs.”

The marketplace is the collective judgement of us all. It can richly reward good products and services, and punish poor goods and services. It’s democratic: We all have a say.

Government, by contrast, imposes the judgment of the politically connected. It often rewards failure (see: UAW bailout) and reinforces it again and again (see: the Head Start program).

In short, we need fewer government attempts to avoid failure, and more actual failures in the market.

(First published by the Detroit News)