Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Free Enterprise Shines As A Bright Beacon On A Hill

"Each of us must become candles in the darkness of collectivist ideas.  The brighter we each shine through our understanding and ability to articulate the meaning of freedom, the more we will be beacons that can attract others."

Richard M. Ebeling
Foundation for Economic Education

Collectivist ideas.  What are collectivist ideas?

Basically collectivism has to do with private property.  It is that all property belongs to "the group," and nothing is owned by any one individual.

But it is more than that.  To be understood collectivism has to be contrasted with individualism.

The very foundation of our country concerns the concept of individualism!  We believe in, and our "leaders" swear to protect a document that defines, self evident, divine, unalienable rights!  These rights protect the individual, preserve each individual's freedoms, at the very EXPENSE of the collective!  The document in fact RESTRICTS the power of the gubment collective.

These rights are unalienable, meaning you cannot separate them, remove any of them, or pay attention to one as more important than any other.  They are a package deal.

The tyrannical collective, big gubment, seeks to grow.  Its tyranny can be soft and hard.  Its growth can be subtle or visibly flagrant.  It seeks the establishment and preservation of itself.

>  It grows through bureaucracy, creating departments and, as Mr. Jefferson states in one of the articles of the Declaration of Independence, "[erects] a multitude of new offices, and [sends] hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out [our] substance."  

>  It grows as politicians create and grow their agendas with money, yes money, in the form of spending and entitlements and bailouts and subsidies.  These agendas grow with money taken from the individual to spend on the collective agenda.  

In short, the real struggle in our society today is collectivism versus individualism.  Imposition and control versus individual freedom.  Public (meaning gubment) property versus private property.  Restriction and curtailment of rights versus unalienable, self-evident, individual rights.

One might say, to use a familiar modern movie icon, it is The Dark Side versus The Force.

Notice The Dark Side  tries to control by any means - the lie and evil doings, hidden manipulation and deception, murderous war and control.  Its advocates are mean, will do damage, can be picked out with flashy uniform or shocking appearance and seek their control agenda.  It seeks darkness.  It's proponents reject light and do not "shine."

The Force  is felt, it is subtle, it is available to anyone who seeks it, and it flows freely when one learns how to use it.  One can be trained in its use.  Its advocates are humble, dress plainly, follow a strait and narrow path, and seek peace and goodness as their agenda.  It seeks light.  It's proponents seek light and "shine."

And so, Dr. Ebeling's statement as regards today's struggle between collectivism and individual freedom remains as a battle that has been around for a long time.

It is the struggle between a dark end with no promise and a light that follows a principle with a promise.

I prefer this place:  "Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."  We proponents of free enterprise should be unashamed and welcoming beacons encouraging others our way.  Come and enjoy what we desire!


Free enterprise shines as a bright beacon on a hill.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Free Enterprise Strives To Work, And Win, All The Time

"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing.  You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time.  Winning is a habit.  Unfortunately, so it losing.  There is no room for second place.  It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.  I firmly believe that any man's finest hour - his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear - is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he's exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

Vincent Thomas Lombardi (1913-1970)

What could possibly be more American than trying to win all the time?
What could possibly be more American than trying to be first place?
What could possibly be more American than working so hard in a good cause and, in the end, finding oneself victorious and exhausted on the field of battle?

What could possibly be more representative of free enterprise than those three thoughts? 
What could possibly be more representative of free enterprise than an economic setting that encourages those three thoughts?
What could possibly be more representative of  free enterprise than people with the Lombardi mindset thriving in the marketplace?

And what could possibly be more representative of AMERICAN FREE ENTERPRISE than this further Lombardi quote:  “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

There is a reason the football Super Bowl trophy is called The Lombardi Trophy.

The Founding Fathers envisioned a country that ennobled the Lombardi ideals, created a political and an economic environment that encourages it, and drew up a political plan and a document that preserved those God-given freedoms, ideals, and rights.  And they pulled it off.

No society ever prospered that strove instead for ever-growing and intrusive gubment.
No society ever prospered that strove instead for ever-growing regulation, taxation and gubment control.
No society ever prospered that strove instead for ever-growing entitlements and gimmes.

No society striving for those less-than-ideal environments ever found its populace working with Lombardi "zeal," ever found its "finest hour," or ever found fulfillment of all it "holds dear." 

Indeed, no society striving for those less-than-ideal environments ever found itself "exhausted on the battlefield - victorious."


Instead, those societies have found themselves on the trash heap of history.

BECAUSE THOSE SOCIETIES DIDN'T WORK.  THEY CHOSE LOSING HABITS.

FREE ENTERPRISE STRIVES INSTEAD TO WORK,
AND WIN,
ALL THE TIME. 



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Free Enterprise Is The Rough Road To Easy Street

"It is a rough road that leads to the path of greatness."

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4BC - 65AD)

Obviously this kind of a quote can be used in many contexts, and it is perfect for the concept of free enterprise.

Doing something for yourself, being your "own boss," creating an entity from nothing and struggling to develop it - and all of the other things it takes to make it in a free-enterprise environment is nothing if it is not a "rough road."

But is it worth it?

Those who can navigate the free-enterprise maze and come out the other end would say yes!  Those who cannot keep afloat and perish in the business environment would say no!  They, and the other deriders of free enterprise and capitalism, would also scream the other words - unfair!  Unjust!  Unlevel playing field!  Etc.

Change, innovation, increasing knowledge, and staying in the forefront of all that it takes to stay in business and thrive requires constant effort.  You can't merely find the yellow-brick road (or Seneca's path to greatness) and push on in the right direction to the great fortune to be found!  There are head winds, side winds, muddy puddles, ice and snow, torrential rains, highway robbers, unexpected break downs and costs, road hogs and the rest.  One must anticipate and be ready to combat anything to stall the business progress moment to moment.   

The road that leads to the path of greatness is a rough one and an unpredictable place.

So why do it?  Why seek out this "rough road," and search for the "path of greatness?"

Why not sit back and wait for others to provide our bread and butter?  And let someone else take care of our needs from cradle to grave?  And be the same as everyone else?   And not develop our talents and interests?  Or learn the same things, say the same things, use the "proper" words, and think only the "proper" thoughts?  AND TAKE THE EASY ROAD TO EASY STREET?

Seneca would say that is an easy one!  Because his philosophy was that none of that leads to the path of greatness.  There is no EASY ROAD to greatness.  The easy road never gets us to EASY STREET.

Free enterprise is the rough road to easy street.




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Free Enterprise Parable And A Historical Struggle



A parable is a story, or poem, which is used to illustrate a moral or spiritual point, and reveal a hidden meaning.  It comes from the Latin word, parabola, which means comparison, discourse, or placing side-by-side.

When parables are employed, different people understand them on different levels and arrive at different interpretations.  One reason for this is background, but another is feeling.  Sometimes we simply feel the spirit of something and it touches us.

This is the MacGregor escutcheon, or coat of arms.  It features a tree and a crowned sword.

The story is told that in the 12th century the Scottish king was attacked by a wild boar during a hunting trip.  Sir Malcolm MacGregor asked permission to protect the king and was given permission with the statement, "Een do and spair nocht."  This would translate something like - do, and spare nothing.  Sir Malcolm then took an oak sapling and dispatched the boar.  This phrase became the MacGregor motto until the 18th century.

The tree is a symbol used in many eras and cultures.  It can symbolize food, purity, spiritual strength, spiritual struggle, strength itself, life, growth - and on and on.

One historical struggle has been between free enterprise and gubments!  John Kenneth Galbraith, not known as a political conservative, once said, "The great dialectic in our time is not, as anciently and by some still supposed, between capital and labor; it is between economic enterprise and the state."

And so it is. 

Consider this parable.  And as you do, consider this great and historical dialectic (argument) between free enterprise and the state.  And in particular between free enterprise and the imposition of socialism.

_________________ 


THE PARABLE OF THE TWO TREES

There once were two trees that lived side by side.

The one had a very comfortable life.  It lived in a greenhouse.  It was very well cared for by an elderly gardener.  The gardener knew just what to do to help the tree to grow and develop.  It was given plenty of water that included lots of nutrition.  It never wanted for water.  The temperatures in the greenhouse were controlled.  Windows were opened when it got too hot.  Heat was provided when it got too cold.  Shades were drawn when the sun grew too uncomfortable.  Its limbs were regularly pruned and it was beautiful.  It did not have to struggle for anything!  It lived in a pot and did not have to send down deep roots.  It never experienced strong winds so its limbs were weak.  Its bark was thin because it had plenty of water, had no enemies and was never too hot or cold.  The elderly gardener loved the tree.

The other tree's life was very hard.  It had to care for itself as there was no gardener to care for it.  It had to send down long roots to search for minerals and water.  That was sometimes hard to come by.  It experienced the very cold of winter and the very hot of summer.  Its limbs were never pruned and it had a somewhat disheveled appearance.  It developed bark that was necessarily thick and hard, needed to battle disease, insects and the elements.  All in all, it had learned to cope with all of that.  And it took care of itself, as best it could.  The tree was happy.

The two trees were close enough that when the windows were opened they could talk.  The tree in the greenhouse would often mock the other.  It would brag about its comfortable life and living conditions.

"Look at me!  My life is very easy.  I am well cared for.  I want for nothing.  My needs are all provided.  The gardener loves me.  I am happy!

And you - look at you!  I watch you struggle and strain for water.  I watch you fight against the heat and cold and strong winds.  You are besieged by insects and animals and birds.  You are never trimmed and some of your branches go this way and that way.  You never get a rest.  You should be in here where all is well!"

The other would answer.  "Yes, it is hard here.  Sometimes I envy you.  But it is not all so bad.  I have strong roots and a good foundation.  I send my limbs this way and that to get more light, and to protect against the strong winds.  True, my life is more difficult, but I am happy.  I am able to provide for myself."

Things went on like this for some time.  The one tree derided and scoffed and the other patiently went about insuring its survival.

Then, one day, the elderly gardener died.
_________________

Jay wrote this original parable, and published it here on his free enterprise blog.  One of Jay's genealogical lines is the MacGregor Clan.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Free Enterprise Allows Us To Pursue A High Degree Of Equality


“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither.  A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.” 

Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

Interesting.

Equality cannot be demanded.
Equality cannot be mandated.
Equality cannot be legislated.
Equality cannot be forced.


Freedom cannot be forced.
Freedom cannot be imposed.
Freedom cannot be faked.
Freedom cannot be secondary.

Freedom has to be the first objective of a free society.  It is the core of free enterprise.  Primary.

But what's it have to do with equality?  Equality cannot create freedom, but freedom engenders equality?

What does Dr. Friedman mean by that?

When the founding documents of the great United States are based in the "self-evident" idea that "all men are created equal," it has to do with endowed rights more than it has to do with the imposition of anything.   And, further, that our given rights are an endowment, meaning bequeathed, inherited and within our capabilities.

Equality cannot be imposed, or legislated, or forced any more than freedom can.  There can be no guarantee of equality.

So how are all of us created equal?

It is in the self-evidence of certain, inseparable rights.  
It is found in what we can pursue - our lives, our liberty and our happiness.   
>  It is in our acquisition of private property (physical and intellectual) and that to obtain happiness and safety.
It is in the enjoyment and defense of our lives and our liberties.

So, does free enterprise make the scene?  Yes!

Almost everyone is good at something.  Some of us are naturally very good at some things, others of us have to work toward the realization of what we are good at and then develop it.  But almost everyone is good at something.

What if it's loyalty, and constancy, and honesty, and integrity when we work for others?  The world will always desire people with those traits.

In free enterprise, when practiced as a whole, everyone fits in somewhere.  And the cream is free to rise to the top.  But everyone is free to pursue, and make happiness happen.  

And in that pursuit we are equal.  And, as Milton Friedman says, to a high degree.


Free enterprise allows us to pursue a high degree of equality.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Free Enterprise Makes Way For Meritocracy

"An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey."

Genghis Khan (1162-1126)

If nothing else was used to manage the Khan army and kingdom, certainly meritocracy was it.

One moved up in the Genghis Khan army and society by performance.

And no matter where one worked.  Khan was very much into putting people in places where they were best suited.  From there they moved up based on merit.

Conquering more territory in just a few years than the Romans did in 400, and killing nearly half the earth's known population, Genghis Khan became the king of the mountain and stayed there.  Along the way he was most interested in the best and brightest, no matter where they came from or their ability.  Some of his most trusted generals were former enemies!

One story surrounding his belief in meritocracy happened after a horse was shot out from under him with an arrow.  Khan was nearly killed.  Later he questioned the prisoners asking who had shot his horse with an arrow.  A man stood, and bravely proclaimed himself the shooter.  So impressed with his bold demeanor, Genghis Khan immediately made him a commander, even nicknaming him "Jebe," which means arrow.

His reign had to do with invention in many forms - paper, printing, gunpowder and a postal communication system.  This came from positioning people where they functioned best, allowing them to make things happen.  He was remarkably generous, very tolerant of other religions, innovative in so many ways, and to this day survives as the model of, albeit ruthless, leadership.  He has never been knocked off his perch.

This is a very free enterprise state of being!

Free enterprise allows all to function where they see themselves as best suited. Talent flows to where it can best bloom.  Promotion happens based on performance, whether the promotion comes by oneself or through others.  And the cream rises to the top.

The highest paid in any meritocracy, free enterprise essentially, is the hardest to replace.  In the corporate world it is the leadership that is typically the highest paid.  And leaders are the hardest to replace.

Name your corporation.  

The same goes for sports.  Who is the highest paid player on any team?  Certainly it is the player who is the hardest to replace.

Name your sport.  

It seems that every industry has its rich participants.  They get there by providing a service and through self interest.  They want to be seen as the individual, company or service provider who sets himself apart by performance, desirability, ability, and for sure reputation. 

Name the company or service provider.

And no matter what or where the king of the mountain is, there are others looking up, plotting and planning, to take the king down.  Take the king down and become ... the NEW king of the mountain!

Free enterprise makes way for meritocracy.
And meritocracy makes way for free enterprise.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Free Enterprise Multiplies Opportunities That Are Created And Seized

"Opportunities multiply when they are seized."

Sun Tzu (544BC - 496BC)

Short and sweet.  From the Chinese war strategist and tactician whose wisdom and brilliance is so often demonstrated in his brevity.

If free enterprise is anything, it is about seizing opportunity.

The battle cry of free enterprise could be Carpe Commodum!

That would mean Seize the Opportunity!

Free enterprise is about finding out what you like to do and do well.  Or developing a technique or product that can be marketed or advanced in its own niche.  And making opportunities happen as personal or others money and reputation are put at risk.

And then, according to Sun Tzu, multiplying those opportunities as other avenues and vistas appear. 

A big part of free enterprise is taking advantage of opportunities and seeing what is coming.  And taking advantage of what things are seen coming!  Anticipation.

Opportunities multiply as one product idea leads to another, or new markets are opened up, or contagion spreads as marketing brings the product to light and new areas become rife for sales, or new people are met and employed as the business expands.  Success breeds success. 

Almost every industry has what seems to be "the way it has always been."  But that way began somewhere at sometime with a risky idea that was developed and implemented.  And then "that way" caught on.  It grew into expectation.  And then dependence.

Now, all this is the bright side of free enterprise!  The dark side can be very dark indeed.  There is so much at risk - personal wealth, personal reputation, personal property, personal everything.  Failure is certainly more common than exploding success! 

We see the fine print at the bottom of the TV screen when some good or service is advertised, and it says something about results not being "typical."  Well, for sure!  People are not equal in their ability to do, or see, or feel, or hear.  Not all are equally motivated, or supported, or visionary.  Results can vary in as many ways as there are those trying to achieve the same goal.

And try as it might, gubment cannot legislate equality in any of those things.  Gubment cannot create a business environment that throws a failure lifesaver to those sinking, not swimming.  Gubment can and should stay out of the way as much as it can, thus providing a tax, legal and regulatory environment that is conducive, not damaging, to free enterprise.  One size does not fit all.  "The same whatever" cannot be applied to every business entity across the board.  Stiff rules, intrusive overreach, and crushing regulation that all must obey can be more stultifying than helpful.  And usually is! 

Business competition is much like war.  There will always be a king of the mountain, and others who want to bring that king down.  Change and adaptation are necessary.  Opportunity must be created and seized.  And those opportunities will lead to others, which lead, again, to more. 

Free enterprise multiplies opportunities 
that are created and seized.