Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Free Enterprise Demands Liberty

"Indeed liberty is the divine source of all human happiness.  To possess, in security, the effects of our industry, is the most powerful and reasonable incitement to be industrious: And to be able to provide for our children, and to leave them all that we have, is the best motive to beget them.  But where property is precarious, labor will languish.  The privileges of thinking, saying and doing what we please, and of growing rich as we can, without any other restriction, than that by all this we hurt not the public, nor one another, are the glorious privileges of liberty; and its effects, to live in freedom, plenty, and safety."

            Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis
          Cato "the Younger" (95 BC – 45 BC)

Would Cato not have fit in with the "new" ideas proposed by the Founding Fathers as regards the divine endowment of liberty, individual rights, freedoms from tyranny, and the precious gift of private property and free enterprise?

Certainly Cato was read and understood by the Founding Fathers, who were very versed in history and historical perspective as they designed the society they bequeathed to us.

It is said that Cato had a long-time feud with Julius Caesar, and was known for his moral integrity, his refusal to accept bribes and his extreme dislike for the corruption so rife in his era.  Apparently he had the same distaste, and desire to avoid, tyranny as did the Founders of the United States.

Cato craved industriousness.  He certainly understood the obligation of a former generation providing for and raising up the next.  He equated work and labor with riches, felt the cultural values of individuality should be passed on, and pushed for the freedoms of personal expression that did not hurt another or impose themselves in effect.

Individual freedom, industriousness and labor, private property, personal safety and cultural security are all embodied in the idea of free enterprise and free-market economic activity.  

Cato despised the impositions and pretensions of the dictator Julius Caesar.  He preferred to defend the Republic and embody the ideas of moral standards and incorruptible virtue.  In the end he took his own life, unwilling to live in a society that did not incorporate his Stoicism and republican values.  He would have fully understood the Patrick Henry statement that if he could not have liberty he preferred death.

Liberty is, as Cato said, "the divine course of all human happiness."

Free enterprise demands liberty.

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