Some people would like you to believe that free enterprise hurts the poor. The opposite is true! Free enterprise lifts people up from poverty. Since the year 1970 the percentage of the world’s population living on the equivalent of less than a dollar a day has fallen by more than eighty percent.
This was not the result of the United Nations developing projects which help the poor. It was not the result of foreign aid. It was free enterprise that achieved this. For example, in China it was free trade and foreign investment, not aid which lifted 400 million Chinese people out of poverty between 1981 and 2001.
While there has never been a power for aiding the impoverished that has come close to free enterprise, some people would have you believe that free enterprise is driven by greed. However, what really drives entrepreneurs is a strong desire to control their own future. An entrepreneur desires to create value in her life and the lives around her. Only free enterprise allows people the freedom to accomplish that.
Other propagandists would have you believe that free enterprise creates envy. However, the Pew Research Center found that 88 percent of Americans said they admired other individuals who acquire wealth through hard work.
According to the World Values Survey, this view is unique to America. In a culture that rewards initiative and offers opportunity, free enterprise fosters aspiration and ambition. In countries which have less economic freedom, and fewer entrepreneurs there is more economic stagnation, more envy, more resentment and as we all should know by now, there is more political and social upheaval. We see this in places like Europe, where sadly, people demand more social benefits instead of demanding to keep more of their earnings.
Still others would have you believe that free enterprise caused the Great Recession. However, the reality is that it was the relative lack of free enterprise, corporate cronyism and statism which actually caused the Great Recession. It was two decades of misguided government policy which created the conditions that led to the housing bubble. It was car companies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and big banks who lined up first in the bailout line. This was a poisonous mix of corporate clients and big government, not free enterprise. Free enterprise is the solution, not the problem. The reason this is true is because it is the small business owner who puts her capital on the line to either earn a profit or suffer loss.
I have saved my favorite criticism of free enterprise until last. It seems to me to be the most ridiculous criticism; but, a line of propaganda which impressionable young people tend to believe.
I once read of a college professor in economics, whose students would insist that it was not fair for wealthy people to have more than poorer people. So halfway through his college course on economics the college professor proposed that a quarter of the points earned by the top half of the class be passed onto the students in the lower half of the class in order to improve grade equality. According to the college professor, at that point, all discussion about fairness ended.
As long as we live in a free society, and people are therefore free to earn money, some people will work harder and smarter and will earn more money than others. Most Americans believe that the redistribution of wealth is not fair . . . but that rewarding accomplishments is not only fair but ultimately beneficial to all within a society (whether rich or poor).
Free enterprise, like the freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the freedom of speech makes our country more fair, not less fair.
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