Thursday, August 13, 2009

Free Enterprise in One Easy Lesson

Anyone who knows me knows that of late, I have embraced a more local, rather than global, perspective. That does not necessarily mean that I buy nothing from major retail giants, I do, or that I don't support free trade, I do; what it means to me is that I believe in the freest market that can possibly exist - the one between me and someone else.

Due to the most recent government-induced fiasco which we call a recession, many people have jumped on the anti-capitalist bandwagon. In some respects, that's a reasonable thing to do - if you believe that capitalism and corporatism are the same thing. In some way, they are; but I prefer a more simple definition of capitalism - the right of an individual to control his or her own capital, i.e., finances.

I have had reasonable success lately when discussing free market economics with people by focusing on the most local market in my life - me! I explain to people what I mean by free enterprise, the freedom to engage in a voluntary exchange of goods and services. It is with this in mind that I call upon all freedom-loving Americans (and anyone else reading this blog from other countries) to practice this free enterprise fully and unashamedly. Our country was based on this model, and many of us as young whipper-snappers practiced it in order to get "spending money." Others used the principles to build a thriving business that would employ perhaps dozen of their friends and neighbors.

The purest form of free enterprise happens each and every winter here in Michigan. In spite of the obvious climate changes that we are experiencing (not man-made, I might add), we still manage to get some snow; sometimes, a lot of snow! For some people, like me, the thought of putting on multiple layers of clothing and boots and gloves and hat, grabbing a shovel and busting my hump for the next hour or so is not very appealing. Thankfully, I have a couple young sons who have strong backs and a willing heart (especially if Dad or Mom offers them a few bucks for doing so) that will shovel the walk for me. Not everyone of my neighbors is so lucky.

And so, my sons, if they desire (and they do), go off to offer their services to our neighbors. Those neighbors who take them up on their proposal pay them a few bucks each. They boys, 13 and 10 respectively, shovel the driveway and the walk. The neighbor is happy they didn't have to shovel, and the boys are happy they got a few dollars for their labor. That's free enterprise, plain and simple - what economists call "a win-win situation."

So, what's that got to do with the price of tea in China? Everything! That's the point of the story - them politicians have been lying to you when they say that free market economics doesn't work.

You see, my sons didn't demand a "minimum wage" from their customer/employer. They simply agreed on a price. The customer figured that they could afford to pay the boys that amount, and the boys were happy to oblige. No losers here, only winners. The boys could have asked for more, but the customer might have told them they'd do it themselves. Or, the customer might have offered more, not really knowing whether the boys would actually do the job for that. It was a voluntary exchange, neither was forced to do anything they didn't want, or have, to do.

There was no health inspector there, employed by the state to ensure the health and safety of my boys. I saw to that because of their age. Were they older, they would take care of that aspect. Isn't it common sense for an individual to not do something hazardous to their health? My boys didn't need OSHA ordering them to wear protective gear, or steel-toed boots, or work gloves (they wore those willingly - man those shovel handles can cut up an unprotected hand).

They also didn't need a Weights and Measures inspector to ensure that the shovel met the minimum government standards for shoveling a 28'X16' parking area, or a 25' long sidewalk. The boys used the shovels that they had, and they completed the job. Were they stronger, they might have bought a bigger shovel in order to move more snow in a shorter amount of time. They didn't need the government to tell them that.

Did our neighbor need a Federal Trade Commission to make sure that they were actually not being overpriced? I don't think so. They could have told my boys to go packing and waited for the next batch of them to come along and make the offer. But he didn't. He chose to let my boys shovel, and chose to pay them what they asked; he knew they were good workers, and he was willing to enter into a verbal contract with them.

Did my boys need a Federal Department of Education to check to see if they had the proper education for doing the job? Did they belong to the local labor union, and was the National Labor Relations Board notified of their working without a contract? How many other of the thousands of Federal agencies did they manage to perform the job without the help of? Or, the customer not need?

The answer is obvious. The scenario hilarious. Yet each night, hundreds of thousands of Americans watch the news, and believe the gobble-dee-goop put forth by those pinheads that Americans are being forced, against their wills, to work for these evil capitalist corporations, who take advantage of them - as if they were slaves. But, they are not slaves. They are free men and women - free to walk off the job at any time and refuse to work for what they are not willing to work for. There is no law that states a man or a woman HAS TO work for a company. It is a voluntary exchange of values.

Please remember what free enterprise is: stop believing the lies of the media and the politicians. The Federal government needs to be completely dismantled. The individual states would do best if they shrank by 50%. If these two things happened, nearly $5 Trillion would be saved each year. We wouldn't have to work until mid-July just to pay our taxes; we might only have to work until the end of January to pay them. That would leave 11 months worth of our pay - OUR GROSS PAY - to line our pockets. Of course that's only if our employer/customer chose to pay us that much, but if they didn't, we could chose to work for someone else. We have labor to market, they have money - somewhere there has to be a meeting point.

Free markets, Free Enterprise. The sweetest sounding words imaginable. I hope you think so too.

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