At one time in America most people were financially independent. I don’t mean by this that most people were wealthy. What I mean is that they worked for themselves as opposed to working for someone else as a hired laborer. People were farmers, or craftsmen, trappers, or frontiersmen. Thomas Jefferson pictured America as a republic based upon the yeoman farmer.
That day has passed. Today most people who work are employed by someone and draw a wage. As a matter of fact in America today it is not overstating the matter to say that of those who earn their own living the vast majority are exclusively wage earners.
Combine this with the reality of our modern infatuation with democracy and it is no wonder that the majority of voters continue to elect people who are pro-worker and anti-free enterprise. This is aptly reflected in our labor laws and the radicalized National Labor Relations Board. It is also reflected in the progressive income tax, the fact that corporate income is taxed twice, once as income to the corporation and secondly as income when the same money is distributed to shareholders. It is further manifested in the bewildering array of regulations that spew forth from Washington strangling business in red tape.
The masses of wage earners have fallen prey to the siren songs of demagogues. These pied pipers point to the visible difference between the rewards earned by those who risk their capital and their personal efforts to start and build an enterprise and those who earn wages to work for those enterprises. These differences in reward are labeled as unfair. It is either intimated or stated directly that those who start enterprises and build their bigger reward have done so by taking from those who earn a smaller reward by working for the enterprises they build.
We hear endlessly about a fair deal, a level playing field and building ladders to the middle class. Government control is offered as a gateway to utopia where those who earn too much give to those who earn too little; from each according to their ability to each according to their need. The Svengalis of redistribution seek to mesmerize people removed from anything except doing a proscribed task for an agreed upon amount. They teach that free enterprise is the cause of the unfairness portrayed as America’s legacy. Our state controlled schools drum the same message into our children until it become to them common sense. The subservient media sing the same song in movies, on TV and in the news.
Building upon this multipronged barrage of propaganda the worship of democracy kicks in to warp our Republic. When we combine those who succumb to the collectivist delusion among the wage earners with government workers and those who are living off the dole and we have a solid majority dedicated to restricting freedom to gain security. A bargain our Founders warned us leads to having neither.
This is where we stand today. The entrepreneur is looked down upon as a parasite on the economic life of the wage earners. Entrepreneurs are portrayed in movies, on TV, and by our leaders as grasping schemers who care nothing for the environment or their fellow man, and the only reason they aren’t throwing grandma off the cliff is because someone is watching. Try to remember the last time Outside of an Ayn Rand novel or movie that you saw capitalists portrayed as anything positive in America. It is generally believed by the low information voters that the only way people get rich is to steal from the poor.
This is a trap; a trap that swallowed Russia and held it captive for generations, and a trap that impoverished Eastern Europe and turned China into one big internment camp. Those who spent most of the 20th century sitting in the dirt eating leaves as a result of their campaign against free enterprise have broken their chains and are today the Tigers of East Asia and the power houses made of BRIC.
Entrepreneurs are necessary. They are the engine that makes the wheels of innovation turn. They are the ones willing to take a risk. They will turn away from the guaranteed wage and the benefits all our parents taught us were necessary for a good life. They are the ones willing to take the chance and hazard their all for something others can’t see. They are the ones who build the organizations for others to work within. Without them economies stagnate, suffocate, and die.
If the government were to take over every business in America and ensure that every wage earner could continue to earn their daily bread does anyone think this would be the America that we have known? Does anyone believe it would be the America that grew from thirteen impoverished war weary states on the edge of civilization into the greatest power the world has ever known? This has been tried before and everywhere it has ever been tried it has failed. Don’t believe the political savants who tell us this time it will work. The ones who say they will do it differently and whose every program proves they are doing it the same.
In Russia the government actually took ownership of everything, and then ran it all into the ground. In Italy and Germany they tried it another way. They allowed for private ownership but with strict government control. Here in our American version we are following the Italian and German path with crony capitalism building fortunes on political access. Our stock market does not move in response to innovation and enterprise it moves in tandem with government policies. The Too-Big-to-Fails make the cronies at the top wealthy as they plunder the assets, buy back the stock, and enrich their friends with options. All while making sizable campaign donations along the way to those who make it all legal. Then when the bubbles burst they get bailed out and the tax payers foot the bill.
If we are to survive let alone thrive we have got to open the way for the innovator. We have got to once again encourage the risk taker, quit punishing success, and stop subsidizing failure.
To give a good day’s work for a day’s wage is an honorable thing. To be a faithful and responsible employee is something we can teach our children. However without the new energy and markets created by innovative entrepreneurs the system will eventually stop growing. When the pie stops growing everyone ends up fighting over the size of their piece. When the pie stops growing and the population keeps growing everyone’s piece must get smaller, except of course for those who do the dividing.
Why do we need capitalists? So that everyone else can have a job.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens