Last month marked the 245th year of the American experiment in freedom and self-government, which includes an economic system founded on competition-based capitalism. The intent of the system is to promote equality of opportunity, but not equality of outcome. Ironically, the poor have done much better under our system than any socialist or communist system in history. Competitive capitalism helps us all.
When the character of the people is good, competition-based capitalism drives everyone toward excellence. When character does not exist, no system of government or economics can adequately compensate for the lack of interest in excellence. John Adams, our second President, said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Additionally, character-guided competition drives productivity, which is the key ingredient in a healthy economy. When productivity is climbing, the economy booms and benefits everyone at all economic levels. Consider this: 100 years ago in this country, only the rich could afford cars, air conditioning, and most household appliances; now, it is a rare home that does not have these modern conveniences. A whopping 97% of American adults own a cell phone.
Unhealthy competition, often motivated by bad character, can decrease productivity and suppress an economy. Large businesses sometimes employ predatory pricing, accepting a short-term loss to run smaller firms out of business. When not-for-profits aggressively compete for constituents, the common good that should be the basis for their not-for-profit status is not served. Similarly, when governments compete for jurisdiction, it is not productive and all of us pay.
For the mutual good of Bourbon County, I encourage businesses to compete on an equitable basis. Not-for-profits, look to enhance the operations of fellow benevolent organizations, reaching out to build partnerships that can create synergies and serve mutual constituents. Governments, link arms with adjoining or overlapping jurisdictions and see how you might create efficiencies in serving the taxpayers. In this neck of the woods, we are not wealthy enough to pay for waste.
Lastly, I encourage you to evaluate your own character as it relates to economics and the good of the community. Before you fire out a post to criticize a politician, a neighbor, or a competitor, I would direct you to a quote by the wisest Sage of all, who walked this earth about 2,000 years ago: “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”