A Lesson in Free Enterprise: A Childhood Race Teaches a Valuable Lesson about the Difference between Free Enterprise and Socialist "Share the Wealth" Schemes. (Opinion Past)

By Caldwell, Taylor | The New American, December 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

A Lesson in Free Enterprise: A Childhood Race Teaches a Valuable Lesson about the Difference between Free Enterprise and Socialist "Share the Wealth" Schemes. (Opinion Past)


Caldwell, Taylor, The New American


I am not one to genuflect when Free Enterprise is mentioned, nor do I drop my voice in reverence when speaking of it, myself. I do not think it is God's system for bringing Heaven to earth, nor do I believe the angels shout with joy when another rugged scoundrel reaches a fifth or sixth nefarious million. (Especially these days when few make and keep money, in view of taxes, who are not red-hot crooks.) I've seen too many lard-heads who amassed fortunes to be respectful of them, and too many retarded intellects who collected acres of fat real estate. And to those who sneer, "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich, too?" I reply, "It doesn't take much smartness to be rich. Look in your mirror, and see for yourself."

Nevertheless, and literally giving the Devil his due, Free Enterprise -- inadvertently -- brings liberty with it and opportunity and respect for the individual; and eventually, when it gets a little out of hand, it brings just laws which prevent a few from gobbling up everyone else and so enlarges the sphere of activity for every man with a measure of industry, intelligence, and ambition. Free Enterprise, of course, did not design free Governments, and in many cases it has resented them, but somehow free governments arise in its bustling golden shadow. Palm trees never set Out deliberately to offer shade and fruit on an oasis for the sole delight of starving and thirsting men; they grow for their own benefit and thus spread cool greenness and life on the desert for others. Liberty and life and the pursuit of happiness, then, are by-products of Free Enterprise, involuntarily created, for it needs them for itself.

Those who practice Free Enterprise, as do those in any other walk of life, also, reveal the normal aspects of cussedness, greed, avarice, indifference, perjury, subornation, dishonesty, cruelty, and what not. But at least they are honestly what they are, and do not tilt a plated halo over their beetling brows; nor do they warble piously, nor do they rob others for the welfare of the "underprivileged." They may lie, but only in their own interest. There is a certain nobility about them: They are not hypocrites nor robbers of Peters to keep irresponsible Pauls on unearned velvet cushions. I've never heard a Free Enterpriser call some uncouth lout, bum, or criminal "another poor unfortunate." Nor have such people rushed eagerly to the defense of a psychopathic juvenile murderer with cries of "Broken Home!" For these things alone Free Enterprise deserves our deepest respect; it is the keeper of our sanity. When it is forced out of existence a nation goes mad, drinks itself to death, or cuts its throat -- all of w hich it well deserves. For it has shattered its central equilibrium.

First Taste of a Free Market

I'll go along with the head-shrinkers a little when they declare that what you learn and experience in your early childhood fashions your outlook when you are an adult. I am a Free Enterpriser because of what happened to me on a bright summer day in England, when I was five years old; though I own not a single stock or bond and was never engaged in pure Free Enterprise -- except once.

The British calendar is full of holidays, a hangover from its gayer and heartier Catholic past. Not even Cromwell, whose boys murdered a few of my ancestors, could suppress the lusty appetite the British have for holidays and their determination to keep them, come the knouts of the Labor Party or outright Communism. A nation which loves to romp is still fairly safe, and the more holidays the better, say I. It is the dreary-hearted people who succumb to slavery, the dull who are conditioned to obey.

Whitsuntide is a happy holiday in England, especially for the children. I remember that holiday in particular, when I was five, and engaged for the first, and last, time in Free Enterprise. Our little private school, which had eighteen students ranging from four years to twelve, was going to race, jump, box, and leap in competition with 18 students from the grammar (free) school nearby. …

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