The Perils of Success and How to Overcome Them


Tim Huelskamp Heartland

by Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.


A veteran businessman who successfully founded and grew multiple businesses in a variety of industries once observed, “No one wants to fail, but the toughest challenges emerge when you achieve your goal, not when you fall short.

This counterintuitive idea—that success may be more difficult to handle than failure—is not the sort of thing we often hear. Yet, business history is littered with examples. In 1984, IBM posted the greatest after-tax profit of any company in world history until that time: $6.58 billion. Just eight years later, IBM reported the greatest corporate loss ever up to that time: $5 billion, as the business historian John Steele Gordon observed.

Or consider the rise and fall of Polaroid. It so dominated its market that everybody called instant photos Polaroids. The name was literally a household word. It seemed everyone was snapping and shaking their Polaroid cameras—right up until the digital revolution passed the company by and Polaroid filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, just like one of its instant photographs from decades gone by.

Or consider Yahoo! In 2005, it was number one in the online advertising market. But after relying too heavily on its marketplace prominence instead of changing to serve its customers better as new competition arose, and backing out of potential deals to purchase Google and Facebook, Yahoo now finds itself in danger of completely disappearing.

In these three cases and countless others, successful businesses achieved dramatic success and then failed—sometimes spectacularly, sometimes with barely a whimper. They achieved record profits and prominence, but as new challenges arose, they couldn’t, to use the unofficial U.S. Marine Corps slogan, “improvise, adapt, overcome.”

Political Success—or Failure?

It’s not so different in the political, policymaking arena. A few years back, a friend of mine was the majority leader of his state legislative chamber, with the duty—and great power—of selecting which bills to place on the legislative calendar for floor debate, vote, and passage. All others would suffer a swift demise.

During a legislative scheduling session, the majority leader identified an insurance bill that had been supported by key business interests, passed the appropriate committee, and appeared to be a solid, conservative bill for his Republican majority to consider. The majority leader invited the special interests’ lobbyist to the state capitol to discuss the impending victory.

After proudly announcing that the bill would move forward and almost certainly pass, he was stunned by the lobbyist’s response: “Do not bring the bill up for debate!” The majority leader was utterly confused. Had the industry changed its opinion on the topic? No. Had new political opposition arisen? Nope. Had the state’s governor decided to oppose the bill? No.

What was the problem, then? The lobbyist was very clear: If this bill were to pass in the current legislative session, the lobbyist asked, what would he do next year? If he accomplished his legislative goal, he might not be hired again. Success would mean there was no further need for his services.

In politics as in business, success can be perilous.

The Heartland Institute has achieved significant, measurable policy successes in recent years. One need look no further than two Heartland visits to the White House which occurred almost exactly one year apart.

On June 1, 2017, Heartland’s Joe Bast joined President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden for the official announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the horrendous Paris Climate Accord. “President Trump made exactly the right call by deciding to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Treaty,” Joe said at the time. “Staying in would make it impossible to implement his America First Energy Plan and result in U.S. taxpayers and consumers paying hundreds of billions of dollars in higher taxes and higher energy costs.”

The successes continued. In January 2018, Heartland’s government relations team planted boots on the ground in Wisconsin on numerous occasions, testifying and counseling lawmakers on the ins and outs of welfare reform. The result of Heartland’s hard work came on April 11, when Gov. Scott Walker signed a package of laws that brought conservative, commonsense, work-focused welfare reform to Wisconsin. We are now working to export these historic innovations to the other 49 states and the federal government.

Heartland’s Successes

The Heartland Institute has achieved significant, measurable policy successes in recent years. One need look no further than two Heartland visits to the White House which occurred almost exactly one year apart.

On June 1, 2017, Heartland’s Joe Bast joined President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden for the official announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the horrendous Paris Climate Accord. “President Trump made exactly the right call by deciding to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Treaty,” Joe said at the time. “Staying in would make it impossible to implement his America First Energy Plan and result in U.S. taxpayers and consumers paying hundreds of billions of dollars in higher taxes and higher energy costs.”

The successes continued. In January 2018, Heartland’s government relations team planted boots on the ground in Wisconsin on numerous occasions, testifying and counseling lawmakers on the ins and outs of welfare reform. The result of Heartland’s hard work came on April 11, when Gov. Scott Walker signed a package of laws that brought conservative, commonsense, work-focused welfare reform to Wisconsin. We are now working to export these historic innovations to the other 49 states and the federal government.

In late June, U.S. District Court Judge William Allsup threw out a lawsuit brought by left-wing city officials in San Francisco and Oakland, who were attempting to hold five of the world’s largest oil companies financially liable for rising sea levels and other alleged damages from manmade global warming. In many cases, the supposed damages had never occurred.

Heartland Institute policy advisors joined an important amici curiae brief answering the judge’s call for a “climate tutorial”; Heartland submitted a Policy Brief, “The Social Benefits of Fossil Fuels,” to answer Allsup’s questions about the benefits of fossil fuels; and Heartland experts published key op-eds—all of which helped to win the “Climate Trial of the Century.”

Ah, winning. It never gets old.

But wait, there’s more. Remember I said that there were two visits to the White House? Well, almost a year to the day after Joe’s visit, I was invited to the White House to watch Trump sign into law the Right to Try bill, groundbreaking legislation promoted by The Heartland Institute that will help terminally ill patients and their families gain greater access to potentially lifesaving medications that have passed the Food and Drug Administration’s safety protocols and await full approval, providing hope to tens of thousands of families.

Beyond the Zenith

As we roll through the halfway point of 2018, I am happy to report The Heartland Institute has reached the zenith of its success—so far. There are many battles yet to be waged and wars to be won in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Some might suggest that now is the time to rest, to take the foot off the pedal for a bit and enjoy the fruits of our labor. I’m guessing the executives at IBM, Polaroid, and Yahoo might have thought the same thing, and look where that got them!

The Heartland attitude is markedly different from those businesses’ and many other think tanks’. It is perhaps best summed up by Heartland friend and retired U.S. Air Force Col. John A. Warden III, a Vietnam War combat pilot and the architect of the air campaign strategy in Operation Desert Storm. In his book written with business consultant Leland A. Russell, Winning in Fast Time, Warden lays out what many politicians, lobbyists, and businesses just don’t get about success: “When in doubt, attack. When you take the offensive, you have the opportunity to achieve exactly what you want because you set the agenda and the timetable.”

I promise you, we at Heartland will continue to press the attack in the war for America’s future, not rest on our laurels. We will work diligently to set the agenda and take the fight to those who oppose our personal liberties, not wait for their attacks. We will remain on the offensive, always looking for new successes, not simply defending our past victories. That’s how all vital wars are won, and nothing is more important than this war for freedom.


Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.

Tim Huelskamp is the president and CEO of The Heartland Institute.

Sportsmen Benefit from Interior Sec. Zinke’s Leadership

by H Sterling Burnett


The Department of the Interior (DOI), under the leadership of Secretary Ryan Zinke, has reversed Obama administration policies that hindered state wildlife management, harming hunters and anglers in the process. Consequently, sportsmen are now able to hunt and fish without undue restrictions, and nature-lovers are able to enjoy the great outdoors more fully.

On his last day in office, Dan Ashe, President Barack Obama’s director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), imposed a directive to phase-out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on the 307 million acres of federal land controlled by the agency.

Some FWS wildlife managers and their partners in state agencies expressed objections about the order. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), which represents the 50 states’ fish and wildlife agencies, issued a press statement saying, “the Association views this Order as a breach of trust and deeply disappointing given that it was a complete surprise and there was no current dialogue or input from state fish and wildlife agencies prior to issuance.”  Not surprisingly, Ashe’s directive did not last long. As one of his first official acts, Zinke rescinded Ashe’s lead ban.

According to John Jackson III, president of Conservation Force, “this directive skipped the normal regulatory process, including scientific and public input—with good reason, because there is no sound conservation basis for the order. This was clearly a payoff by the outgoing Obama administration to radical environmental allies.”

With the support of the Trump administration, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to rescind an Obama-era takeover of wildlife management on public lands in Alaska. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which designated 157 million acres for national parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments, wild and scenic rivers, and national forests. As a compromise for seizing so much land, the federal government recognized Alaska’s authority to manage various natural resources, including fish and wildlife, on the vast majority of the lands appropriated by the federal government.

Contrary to ANILCA, the Obama administration took management of more than 78 million acres of Alaskan land, halting the Last Frontier’s management of predators on these lands. With President Donald Trump and Zinke’s encouragement, Congress reversed this action, returning wildlife management back to its rightful place: state officials.

Obama designated an unprecedented amount of federal land as national monuments, banning hunting and fishing across millions of acres of land and water, which undermined sound wildlife management. Trump requested Zinke review all the national monuments declared in the past 27 years to determine if they were sound decisions. Zinke recommended cutting the size or changing the management of 10 monuments. So far, Trump has followed Zinke’s advice on two monuments: reducing the size of the Bears Ears National Monument from 1.5 million acres to 220,000 acres and cutting the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from two million acres to one million acres, reopening millions of acres for outdoor recreation.

In November 2017, Zinke acknowledged the critical role hunters and anglers have played in wildlife and habitat protection and improvement with the establishment of the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC). Under the American wildlife conservation model, taxes on guns, ammunition, fishing tackle, and other hunting and fishing equipment, combined with state and federal license sales, fund the vast majority of wildlife and habitat recovery, protection, and management efforts.

Zinke selected experienced members of the hunting, fishing, and wildlife management community to serve on the council, which will advise DOI concerning how to improve wildlife conservation abroad and expand the public’s awareness of hunters’ contributions to wildlife conservation and in helping wildlife law enforcement.

In his statement announcing the formation of IWCC, Zinke said, “built on the backs of hunters and anglers, the American conservation model proves to be the example for all nations to follow for wildlife and habitat conservation.”

As one of its first acts, to combat poaching, IWCC recommended DOI allow the importation of the heads and hides of African elephants and lions taken on trophy hunts. IWCC said the species would go extinct without anti-poaching programs funded in large part by the fees paid by trophy hunters to take them.

FWS agreed with the decision to reverse the Obama administration ban on trophy hunting and importation. FWS determined revenue from permits to hunt elephants and lions, among other species, aids long-term conservation of the species by providing additional resources to anti-poaching and other conservation efforts.

More recently, in mid-May, Wyoming announced it would hold the first grizzly bear hunt in the lower 48 states in more than 30 years. This only happened because DOI announced it would not reinstate protections for the bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. Grizzly bears had been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975.

The population of grizzly bears now exceeds 700, well greater than FWS’s population goal for the region. Accordingly, FWS concluded the bears were no longer endangered and delisted them, leaving it to the states to develop management plans to maintain bear populations at sustainable levels.

As a result, limited public hunts for grizzly bears should begin soon. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department voted to approve a limited grizzly bear hunt in the fall of 2018. Wyoming’s proposal would allow, at most, 22 grizzly bears to be killed by licensed hunters.

Idaho, with a much smaller population of grizzly bears, would allow just one bear to be taken this fall, while Montana has decided not to permit grizzly bear hunting yet.

Zinke has also opened hunting and fishing on hundreds of thousands of additional acres of the nation’s wildlife refuges. National wildlife refuges are bought and paid for with fees from hunters and fishers. In November 2017, FWS finalized regulations opening or expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on 132,000 acres on 10 national wildlife refuges located across eight states.

On May 31, FWS issued proposed rules to open an additional 248,000 acres in the national wildlife refuge system to new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities. FWS has proposed to open three new refuges to hunting and increasing hunting and fishing activities on 26 refuges. If the rule is finalized, there would be 377 hunting and 322 fishing wildlife refuges in total.

Thus far, Trump and Zinke have been allies and advocates for hunters, anglers, and anyone who thinks wildlife and wildlands are best managed by local professionals—not politicians. As an outdoorsman myself, I can only hope they continue their efforts on behalf of the sports and wildlife I love.




H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hburnett@heartland.org) is a research fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.


A Month of Data Provides Ample Evidence for Why Law-Abiding Citizens Own Firearms

by Amy Swearer


There is no denying that lawful gun owners use their firearms in self-defense far more often than those decrying the “myth” of a good guy with a gun would care to admit. Firearms are, in fact, used for self-defense often and effectively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, notorious for its anti-gun bias, acknowledges as much in its 2013 report on gun violence research.

There, in conjunction with the National Research Council, the CDC concluded that almost all national, comprehensive studies on the subject find that firearms are used for lawful defensive purposes between 500,000 and 3.5 million times every year in the United States.

Even assuming that the actual number of defensive uses is on the low end of that range (and there’s good reason to believe that, in fact, it falls at the higher end), firearms are used to protect life and property more often than they are used to commit crimes, according to the CDC.

The month of June 2018 provided ample evidence of just how valuable a firearm can be in the hands of a law-abiding citizen.

A cursory review of news stories from that month reveals the following:

  • On June 1, a concealed carry permit holder in Cape Coral, Florida, shot a convicted felon who had pulled a firearm on employees of a roofing company. Police said the unnamed good Samaritan acted in self-defense and will not face criminal charges, while the convicted felon—who was legally prohibited from possessing a firearm—will be charged with aggravated assault.
  • On June 4, a 63-year-old Chicago man with a concealed carry license used his lawfully owned firearm to fight off three young, would-be robbers, one of whom pulled out what was only later discovered to be a replica firearm. The man shot one of the robbers in the leg, which caused the other suspects to flee.
  • Also on June 4, an 18-year-old man in Arlington, Tennessee, found himself “rejected” at gunpoint when he assaulted and attempted to rape his friend’s mother during a sleepover. The man forced the woman on a bed and began putting his hand down her shorts before she was able to knee her attacker in the groin and retrieve her handgun, which was stored in the bedroom. The woman sustained a black eye, but told law enforcement officers that she prevented the man from sexually penetrating her.
  • On June 8, a Jacksonville, Florida, man stole cash from a Walmart register and then tried to steal a truck at knifepoint before the truck owner pointed a handgun at the man. The man fled to a nearby Starbucks parking lot, where he again an attempted carjacking—only to be confronted by another armed civilian. Police finally arrived to find the man barricaded inside a Supercuts bathroom, where he was eventually arrested.
  • Also on June 8, in DeKalb County, Georgia, three armed individuals followed a couple out of a grocery store, where police believe they intended either to rob or carjack the couple. The would-be attackers failed to account for the possibility that the couple might also be armed, and all three suspects found themselves in the hospital after a shootout, while neither of the victims was injured.
  • On June 10, two armed men broke into the Cleveland home of an 84-year-old man, where they found themselves in a shootout when the elderly homeowner did not back down. The homeowner suffered a gunshot wound to his side, but the attackers fled the scene. The homeowner’s 17-year-old grandson called 911 after climbing out a window and onto the roof to escape the gunfire.
  • On June 13, a Toledo, Ohio, resident intervened to save the life of a woman being attacked by a man with a hatchet. Police say the resident retrieved a firearm out of his home after witnessing a man in a truck at the nearby intersection repeatedly strike the woman. Neighbors told the media that the woman was screaming for help before the gun owner shot the man attacking her.
  • On June 14, a quick-thinking 5-year-old saved his mother’s life by handing her the family firearm to defend herself. The woman’s ex-husband had broken into her Houston home, where he started choking the woman in front of their four children. The woman’s 8-year-old daughter attempted to pry the ex-husband off of her mother until the 5-year-old obtained the weapon, which the mother then used to shoot the ex-husband in the arm. The mother survived, and none of the four children—ages 8, 5, 2 and 1—were hurt in the confrontation.
  • In the early morning hours of June 16, a Parkland, Washington, woman shot a 16-year-old who broke into her home and continued approaching her after she fired a warning shot and told him not to move. When the intruder continued to approach her, she shot him in the shoulder. The teenager allegedly collapsed to the floor and continued to yell, “I’m so high” until law enforcement arrived. He is expected to survive the wound.
  • On June 17, in Tumwater, Washington, an armed local pastor was credited with stopping a potential mass shooting when he shot and killed a gunman in a Walmart parking lot. The gunman had fired rounds inside the Walmart, apparently trying to break into an ammunition display, before shooting two people during an attempted carjacking. The pastor was aided by a second lawful gun owner.
  • Also on June 17, across the country in Pennsylvania, a man and his 17-year-old daughter teamed up to successfully defend their home against a would-be arsonist who entered their home and started pouring gasoline all over the floor. The father tried to push the would-be arsonist out of the door, but was overpowered and assaulted until the daughter was able to retrieve his handgun. He then fired one shot at the intruder, striking him in arm and stomach, and neutralizing the threat until law enforcement could arrive.
  • On June 22, a Virginia woman successfully used her firearm to defend her 14-year-old daughter against a knife-wielding would-be kidnapper who had flown to the United States from New Zealand as part of a “carefully planned trip.” The New Zealand man was also carrying pepper spray and duct tape when he used a landscaping brick to smash a glass door, only to be confronted by the teen’s better-armed (and presumably very angry) mother.
  • On June 30, a Tennessee teenager used her father’s shotgun to ward off a would-be burglar who approached the front door after stealing two pressure washers from the driveway.
As these stories demonstrate, lawful gun ownership can often mean the difference between a “victim” and a “would-be victim.” This is also consistent with the CDC’s conclusion that “[s]tudies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive gun uses have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other strategies.”

There are, of course, individuals who would use firearms to commit heinous criminal acts. But the proper response to this reality is not the wholesale stripping of constitutional rights from otherwise law-abiding citizens, or the prohibition of entire classes of firearms commonly used by those law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.

That framework of broad gun control makes no one safer — least of all the brave citizens highlighted above.



Amy Swearer is a visiting legal fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

A version of this Op-Ed previously appeared on The Daily Signal website under the headline, “A Month of Data Provides Ample Evidence for Why Law-Abiding Citizens Own Firearms.”

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