The current interest in entrepreneurs and the dynamics of start-up companies should be seen as a very positive turn of events. It’s not that entrepreneurship is a new idea or phenomenon, it’s that a whole new group of people are seeing it and understanding it for the first time and coming to appreciate it in a way they never would let themselves, when it is called Capitalism.
Some think it’s a new discovery and are sincerely excited. If that is what it takes to get people to understand and embrace free markets and economic freedom, more power to them. Maybe one of them will rewrite the Wealth of Nations and make it a new best seller.
A recent article about entrepreneurship in New Orleans quoted one entrepreneur as saying, ““The remarkable thing about a startup in New Orleans is that there are two passions at play. It’s really normal for a startup company or a new company to get excited about the mission of the business… But ….this other passion, this other thing . . . is the importance of contributing to the community, that our work was really helping the community, and job by job, hour by hour, rebuilding something.”
“This Other Thing” has always been there, and it doesn’t just happen in New Orleans -- it happens every time it is tried anywhere in the world.
There has always been advocates trying to explain this beauty of free markets, of Capitalism. Given that the country has been listing more toward controlled markets and socialism, free market advocates apparently were not very good at making their argument – or maybe it just is true that it isn’t the betterment of mankind that some people want, but power over others – true capitalism does not deliver that. Maybe that is why most political economic development efforts tend to pursue the opposite -- crony-capitalism -- rejecting free market avenues.
Entrepreneurship, start-ups, capital investment in new and growing enterprises – no matter what it’s called, has ALWAYS created new products and services that serve the broader public good, created jobs, provided livings, generated new wealth and built the foundation of economies. This has ALWAYS, ALWAYS been true and it is true for every business and productive effort in the private sector no matter its size, purpose or level of success.
While we can lament that the basics of economics aren’t taught to US students, we should also understand, neither is history. There is no factual presentation of history that could miss the fact that the success, power and wealth of the US are not a matter of happenstance, geography or power of the state. It is the product of freedom – free enterprise – capitalism – the existence of an environment in which citizens can freely and voluntarily exchange, value for value, with each other to their mutual benefit.
That this is being discovered anew by younger generations who have been taught that electricity is a right and not a luxury, or that milk comes from the grocery store, speaks to the failure of older generations to educate.
The sudden popularity of the dynamics of free enterprise seems to demonstrate the importance of marketing or “branding.” It turns out that the reality of what happens with the growth of entrepreneurship may not be as persuasive as simple terminology – a fact that others seem to be recognizing.
Dr. Jay Richards, who was recently in Billings, explained how free markets achieve all the benefits that socialists commonly claim are their goals, but yet they eschew the most perfect system ever known to deliver those life-affirming benefits. He commented that he didn’t like calling this miraculous process, Capitalism, because it so poorly relates to what it is. He suggested calling it anything other than Capitalism – free markets or free enterprise.
His point makes sense, because it is true that a rose by any other name smells just as sweet – and what happens in a free market economy — what entrepreneurs achieve — is absolutely sweet.