30 November 2015 ~ 1 Comentario

Thank God for the market and freedom

by Carlos Alberto Montaner


It was a paroxysm of consumption. The night of Thanksgiving, the last Thursday in November, tens of thousands of Americans slept by the doors of stores to carry off everything they could in the so-called “Black Friday.” The partying continued during a weekend when the price reductions and competition between stores and brands ceaselessly incited the consumers’ insatiable appetite.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans buy 20 percent of everything they acquire throughout the year. On the other hand, it is known that the extraordinary vitality of the U.S. economy — which this year will produce more than $17 trillion — depends on 70 percent of the purchases by its society. When this percentage diminishes substantially, the country falls into a recession, unemployment rises, and the situation of the poorest people usually worsens.

Those responsible for this amazing economic miracle are the apostles of the market: the entrepreneurs who launch businesses, the legislators who protect them with fair laws, the courts that rule on mercantile law, the financiers who secure the funding needed, the capitalists who risk their savings or part thereof, the lawyers who give legal shape to the enterprise and defend it in conflicts, the engineers who build the structures or organize the services, the merchants who transact business, the advertisers who awaken people’s interest, the specialists in marketing, the vendors, and a sweaty conglomerate of people daily devoted to producing and innovating so they can compete.

From that seasoned army depends the welfare of the whole of society and the collection of taxes that will fund the upkeep of an efficient State. Any remaining profits and surpluses will go into education, police protection, public health, highways and sewage systems and the rest of the public services, including the Armed Forces that protect us from outside predators.

If profits and surpluses remain, there’s an upsurge of charitable and philanthropic drives that permit the flourishing of organized religion and the thousand NGOs that benefit from others’ solidarity, even if they despise the productive apparatus from which they live or bite the hands of those who feed them, perhaps because they don’t understand how wealth is created, maintained or wasted.  

Anyway, the fact that Black Friday follows Thanksgiving Thursday is an act of poetic justice. As Kent Dillon recalls in his article “Thanksgiving Celebrated as the Birthday of Free Enterprise,” the Mayflower pilgrims settled in America for the purpose of creating a great Christian community, a communist society where everything belonged to everyone.

Perhaps they acted under the influence of the book “Utopia,” written a century earlier by Sir Thomas More, even if they concealed that influence because of the Catholic nature of the former English chancellor, beheaded for (among other reasons) opposing the Reform that they supported. 

With the religious fervor that characterized them, the pilgrims tried to develop their objectives until — due to hunger, barren crops, deaths from scurvy and the rest of the many calamities that almost wiped all of them off (exactly as happened in Virginia) — they decided to turn the land over to the farmers and establish a regime of public property in which the individual might prosper according to his ability, initiative and responsibility. From that point on, the “American Dream” really began to materialize.

When we wonder why North Korea is 20 times poorer than South Korea, we must look for the answer in the Northerners’ collectivism and central planning. They are almost the same Koreans, the former settled into a totalitarian utopia and the latter in a free market. And I say “almost” because the average height of the Northerners is 3 centimeters lower than the Southerners’. Besides, their life expectancy is 11 years shorter — 69 years to 80.

When we wonder why the infinite majority of Cubans place no rational hopes in Raúl Castro’s pseudo-reforms and continue to try to flee from that workers’ paradise — like the almost 4,000 who today are amassing in Costa Rica and the millions who are waiting for their opportunity in Cuba — it’s because on that island the myths of collectivism, central planning and the total hegemony of the Communist Party persist. The outlook, then, is hunger.  

Let us thank, then, the market and freedom in these significant days. As it has often been said, modern capitalism — open and competitive — is a prodigious bread machine. For those who own it, of course.

One Response to “Thank God for the market and freedom”

  1. JOSE NAPOLEON DOMINGUEZ ARIAS 30 November 2015 at 9:40 am Permalink

    Muy acertado.

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