September 2019

Our Economy & Capitalism

We are entering a season of politics this fall, that will dominate much of the news in the near future. I expect that some of the ”news” will be centered on the “moral” failings of businesses large and small, and the opinion that our government and its central planning can, somehow, do a better job at a lower cost with better results than public or private businesses can. My hope is that most, if not all, of us will realize that this notion is in direct contradiction to the basis of the foundation of our culture and country. Capitalism.

I write the History that follows, not as a political statement, but in defense of the basis of our culture and society in America. In our busy lives we often times can forget the small liberties we were born with in America. The common daily occurrences of rights and liberties we are afforded in our daily lives that we often take for granted. The wealth and freedoms we enjoy due to our Free Enterprise System. A system built on Capitalism – On Freedom of Choice – Freedom of Liberty. Our Nation, founded on the simple belief that IN GOD WE TRUST A belief printed on every coin and dollar bill we use.

Adam Smith was a Scottish economist, born in 1723, and is known as “The Father of Capitalism”. It is Adam Smith who first observed that “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the baker or the brewer that we expect our dinner but from their regard to their own interest.” The Butcher, Baker and Brewer were all private businessmen. People need jobs to live a good life. Jobs come from Businesses. A Business needs economic freedom and profits to create Jobs. Free Enterprise is Capitalism. As an economist, Adam Smith knew that when businesses were thriving people could get good jobs, their dreams could become reality and their lives would be enhanced. For much of the World’s history people struggled just to survive. The direct opposite of just surviving is Capitalism. It is Capitalism that has brought us the abundance we enjoy in America & in the World.

Hostility to Free Enterprise (or Capitalism) is not new of course. Intellectuals, Aristocrats and some of the very wealthy and most powerful have always liked the idea of a society rationally organized by centralized planners, rather than by individuals. Many of them truly believe that capitalism is rooted in greed and exploitation. In reality, nothing is further from the truth.

In defense of this statement I give you a gentleman by the name of Lord Acton. Lord John Dalberg-Acton was born in January of 1834 in Naples, Two Sicilies – the largest of the two states of Italy before its unification. He was also a member of England’s Parliament from May 1859 to July 1865. Lord Acton was described as “The Magistrate of History” and was one of the great personalities of the nineteenth century. He made the history of Liberty his life’s work. In his writings it was Lord Acton who noted that: Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority. One of Lord Acton’s most famous quotes was: “Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.”

Among John Acton’s close friends was Alexis de Tocqueville. Alexis de Tocqueville, born in France in 1805, toured the United States of America in its infancy and wrote of his observations. He is best known for those works in a book titled: Democracy in America.

One of Alexis de Tocqueville’s most famous quotes would be a wise thing to remember over the coming months. It was: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Sadly, that day seems it could be close upon us today.

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote a few other things that I believe we should keep in mind, not just over the next few months, but throughout our lives. Two of these were observations: “Americans believe their freedom to be the best instrument and surest safeguard… to secure for themselves a government which will allow them to acquire the things they covet and which will not debar them from the peaceful enjoyment of those possessions.” AND

True friends of Liberty… ought constantly to be on the alert to prevent the power of government from lightly sacrificing the private rights of individuals – no citizen is so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed; no private rights are so unimportant that they can be surrendered without impunity to the caprices of a government.”

One observation was also a warning:

“The democratic tendency… leads men unceasingly to multiply the privileges of the state and to circumscribe the rights of private persons… often sacrificed without regret and almost always violated without remorse… men become less and less attached to private rights… just when it is most necessary to retain and defend what little remains of them.”

I wish you all Health, Happiness and Liberty over the coming Holidays! Until the Next Time…..