Torch, Winter 1981

What is Free Enterprise.P Of all the aspects of political freedom guaranteed to us by our Constitution, free enterprise is the least understood . Whether we call it free enterprise, the free market, or capitalism, it simply means that men are free to produce. They are free to discover, to invent, to experiment, to succeed, to fail, to create means of production, to exchange goods and services, to profit, to consume, all on a voluntary basis without significant interference by the policing powers of the state . It is the most individualistic and the most democratic economic system conceivable . It works with no conscious direction. It is a completely unplanned economy. And what is the end result of these millions of individual decisions? It is the outpouring of man– obtained wealth that characterizes the history of American capitalism in which 28 percent of the total production of the human race is created by only 5 percent of the world's population. American capitalism has generated the most astounding flood of imaginative goods and services ever to have appeared on the face of the globe-goods and services produced in inconceivable variety and abundance and with maximum efficiency. This is the system that has endowed the average American with the highest standard of living in the world. And if allowed to operate without undue interference, the free market offers the most viable solution to our many social problems such as unemployment, equal rights, and crime. Two Schools of Thought Basically, and in a broad sense, there are two schools of thought in this country. There are those who believe that all our problems should be solved by the local, state, or federal governments . There are others who have faith in the American people to solve their own problems . I believe America was founded on this latter premise and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were formed to guarantee that the people would remain free with the government having the supreme responsibility to carry out this concept. In the United States we have been able to exercise freedom of choice: we choose where we want to live, where we want to work, how we want to work, what we want to buy, where we want to worship--0r if we w~nt to worship. The list is endless . The growth and matunty of a person is to a great extent due to his or her exercising these kinds of choices. However, when the decisions are made by some governing body, people become essentially crippled with no drive or enthusiasm for life . They have literally gone from freedom to bondage . An Evangelist's Viewpoint I discussed government with a friend of mine who happens to be an evangelist. He told me that the Bible teaches that government is ordained of God, but not for the purpose of producing welfare, and not to allow irresponsible people to be supported by a public treasury . The government should serve in the function of referee and not employer; therefore, government should do as little as possible financially for the individual , but rather it should protect the enterprising person so that he might properly participate in the reward of his labors. Is Big Business Really Bad.P Past administrations and the news media have had a way of blaming everything wrong with the country on business when , in reality, it has been the politically– motivated Congress that makes the laws , creates the regulatory agencies, and spends our taxes . When we hear government officials and the news media refer to the giant profits of business and industry , I think it's important to put things into perspective and see who benefits from successful and profitable compames. Whom Does Business Benefit.P First, the government benefits because the real need for tax resources by our government can only be met by strengthening the business community, so there can be a stable source of tax income through higher employment and greater taxable profits . Secondly, it is the vast cross section of American people, not some chosen few , who own business . It is interesting to note how many people directly own shares in public corporations or investment companies by virtue of their stake in large institutional funds . After adjustment for duplication, the number comes to a startling 115 million people or about 75 percent of the population over the age of 13 . When we add direct shareholders, we find that 88 percent of the post-age 13 population have some link to the earnings and stock market performance of American corporations . This is probably the most important consideration as to the involvement and dependence that millions of American people have in the success of our free enterprise system. It is unfortunate that some politicians and union leaders are either ignorant of this fact or have chosen to ignore it. A Cooperative Effort Is Needed What we really need is a joining together of the powerful forces of the federal government, labor, and management across the country in support of the free enterprise system. Together we can make this unique system work . The government, the unions, and businesses have a common interest and goal to build a strong economy in which we can provide jobs for everyone and a strong tax base to support the necessary growth of this country . 5