In the free market, failure is always an option. The United States has one of the world’s most vibrant entrepreneurial cultures, where millions of people start small businesses, create new products and invent new technology. Part of the startup culture is the idea of failing fast, failing cheap and failing towards success by learning the lessons taught by failure. Cultures that punish even minor failure in business with shame, exclusion and stigma are far less likely to foster entrepreneurs because they prevent experimentation by making it too risky.
Recently, the US has been infected by the “failure is not an option” mantra, a toxic hubristic fallacy, disguised as a truism, which promotes the idea that risk can be removed from life; that 100% security and 100% control are possible, even desirable. Those who attempt to remove the possibility of failure, to de-risk financial systems, end up creating the probability of spectacular failure. By removing the option to fail cheap and fail fast, they instead concentrate risk and ensure we will fail hard, fail expensively, fail across the board.