The Virtues of Free Enterprise

By:  Robert D Brinsmead

I am committed to capitalism or the free enterprise way of life. Its results speak for its benefits, no doubt about that.

The reason why I like the free enterprise way of life is because it respects human freedom and frees humans to be their most innovative, adaptive, creative, inventive and productive.  Humans just perform better when they are free.

There are some great human beings who do not use this freedom, however, to make money.  They just could not make that their main pursuit – and these are often the brainiest kinds of people, like Einstein for instance – or Stephen Hawking.  To such people, the greatest treasure in the world is the discovery of an idea.  If others want to take their ideas and make money out of them, well, each to his own.  But I suggest that great thinkers like these would have been bored with the thought that their lives would be taken up with making money. Steve Jobs was a genius, and he actually was a rare genius in that he did make a lot of money, but I don’t think you could read about his life and thought and conclude that making money was the driving force of his life.  I think too of that great human being, perhaps the greatest American scientist never to have won the Nobel Prize (they were too busy giving it to lesser breeds whom I could easily name). I refer to Freeman Dyson.  What a marvellous long and productive life he has led.  I imagine that he lives comfortably and has all he wants as he lives out his final years with his aged wife (He is now about 90 and still very sharp, it seems) but if you had to measure his success by the amount of money he made, then Trump would be ahead of Dyson.  There is too much evidence to doubt the fact that one does not need a lot of brains to make a lot of money.  On the other hand, I don’t doubt that the creation of wealth can benefit a lot of people.  Yes, I am well aware of the plus side. If you want another example, then think of Norman Borlung, often considered the greatest human being on the planet in the 20th century.  It is said that he saved more human beings than any man who has ever lived.  He was the man who fed the world, the Father of the Green Revolution in productive agriculture.  In our day, while others were forecasting that millions were going to die of starvation, even before the turn of this century,  Borlung went out into three third world continents and became a world force to double and even treble food production for the salvation of at least a billion people.  Borlung was not fabulously rich, but measured in terms of what he achieved, he was surely one the richest men in the world.

There can be gains to getting off the economic bus so that one can contemplate the sunsets and smell the roses.  It might increase one’s real wealth.  It is the mind that is the measure of the person.

There are all kinds of ways to promote human development and excellence and to expand the human spirit – there is art, music and all the other things that promote human culture and refinement.  There is medicine; from the study of genetics; the autoimmune system and nutrition and all the things that have increased health and promoted longevity.  Think of all the branches of science which is really the process of coming to terms with reality and the way everything works, including the study of human psychology that facilities better human interaction.  Some of the greatest benefactors of mankind who have made contributions in all of these fields have sometimes died broke and destitute like some great artists, some of whose single pieces of art now sell for many millions of dollars.  And don’t forget the man whose only property was the coat he wore for which his executioners cast lots.

But the greatest of all human achievements or attributes is love, such as the love that thinks nothing of laying down one’s life for one friends – and greater yet, for one’s enemies.  Its price is far above rubies.  Things that can be bought with mere money perish with our bones, but even the cup of cold water given in an act of care for another cannot be lost but is a part of the treasure that will last forever.  So even when we think of things like trade and acknowledge how this mutual and free human exchange has promoted human progress, we must also recognize that the smiles, the warm human handshake and the social interaction that trade can promote enrich the human race too.  It is said that money is the means of exchange, not just an exchange of goods and services, but exchange in terms of social enrichment through human interaction.  It is said that money talks.  It can talk either good things or bad –bombs or medicine.