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The fiction of free enterprise

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We hear it all the time in the business world, enterprise must be free in order to prosper. The problem with that is that enterprise is not free in so many ways.

While enterprise constantly complains about the regulation environment, they are mostly to blame for it. Enterprise cannot be free of environmental responsibility. And when it chooses to poison our waterways, pollute our air and corrupt our foods, then enterprise has made a choice to go down the wrong path. Either the people who run enterprise must act in a moral and responsible manner or it will be forced upon them through legislation. In its greed for profit over health, enterprise has not always acted in the best interest of society, and so is itself to blame for legislation that would not have been necessary, had they acted in a righteous manner.

While enterprise also complains about any raise in the minimum wage it seeks to pay its executives ever larger and larger salary packages. When enterprise does not act for the greater good of its employees, legislators must eventually ignore their wealthy benefactors and listen to the crowd.

It could be argued that free enterprise ought to mean something that is more democratic and less autocratic. Enterprise is the last great bastion of dictatorship in our democratic societies. Too many Pharaohs of industry and monarchs of commerce act as if their employees are serfs to be trodden down instead of partners to be rewarded with a fair share, suckers to be scalped rather than fellow human beings to be treated with dignity and respect.

Many business owners would argue that democracy does not work in the industrial and commercial world, that there is a good side of dictatorship. It is more efficient at getting things done than a democracy. There is also a bad side and that is destructive corruption and selfish greed at the top. Enterprise needs more democracy in the latter sense, in that we have businesses that are for the people not just for the bosses.

Our economy needs to be blessed. Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Enterprise will only be truly free when it is free of corruption, pollution and autocratic greed.

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