Free Enterprise and Capitalism
The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security, is so powerful a principle, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often incumbers its operations.(1)
Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, IV, 5
True Prosperity Dependent on Righteousness. And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceeding rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in needand abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.(2)
And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church. (Book of Mormon, Alma 1:29–31)
Fundamental Principles of Progress. All of us are anxious to see our country progress, but we want to know by what means. The whole American concept of progress, which has [p. 161] outstripped every other nation on earth, is based on certain fundamental principles which [some] men now ask us to abandon. Certainly we are entitled to challenge such proposals when they are asking us to give up what has worked so well and substitute something which they merely hope will work.
What are these fundamental principles which have allowed the United States to progress so rapidly and yet remain free?
First, a written Constitution clearly defining the limits of government so that government will not become more powerful than the people.
Second, an economic system which is characterized by:(3)
Free enterprise the right to venture, the right to choose.
Private propertythe right to own, develop and enjoy.
A market economythe right to exchange and to profit.(4)
Third, building an open society where each individual enjoys the greatest opportunity to improve himself, to travel, to become educated, to invent, to compete, to build, to speak, to worship, and to pursue happiness in whatever way the individual finds most satisfying and worthwhile.
Fourth, assigning government the role of referee rather than competitor(5)giving it enough power to provide peace, order [p. 162] and security but not enough power to rob the people of their liberty or take their property without due process of law. (Ezra Taft Benson, 9/22/62)
I should like to express gratitude in this thanksgiving season for this great country, for the Constitution of the United States that grants to each individual liberty, freedom to think and to speak and to act as you please, just so long as each gives to the other man that same privilege. I am thankful for this country, and to use the words of Benjamin Decasseres that for a hundred and fifty years this country has raised the level of wages and living to the highest point ever attained in all historic time; thankful that this country has given more persons opportunity to raise themselves under individualistic, capitalistic, free enterprise system from menial to commanding positions than any other nation in the world, past or present. Then I repeat in his words: Grateful that this country guarantees to each and all, native and foreign, free speech, free pen, freedom of religion, and trial by jury. (President David O. McKay, CN-11/27/54)
The Principle of Neighbor-Love. Now, there is another principle that should operate in America, for America is still a Christian nation, though non-Christian, pagan, and idolatrous practices and doctrines are fast infiltrating into our national life.
In the Levitical law which God gave to Moses and which since then has been the basis of the true relationship among men, it is said, . . . thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. (Lev. 19:18)
Jesus, answering the tempting Sadducean lawyer, who asked him, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? replied, quoting the Levitical law: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matt. 22:35ff; Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:31)
In his General Epistle, James said this: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this. To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27) James also declared: If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well. (James 2:8)
As a Christian nation we must, as near as may be, put this principle into operation. [p. 163]
This principle of neighbor-love means to me, when translated into terms of political science and into what I will call a mass economic system, that we shall recognize as an inherent right of other men the same right that we insist upon for ourselves in working and earning a livelihood for ourselves and our loved ones. Government should recognize this right of the individual and guarantee it to him. This is as far as government should go.
Thus the State cannot guarantee a livelihood for every man, for that is state socialism and many of us utterly repudiate socialism, but it does mean that the State must protect me and my neighbor in our equal right and opportunity to work.
Again, this principle does not mean that the State shall aim to see that all men shall, by gratuity or other artificial means, be on an equality in the distribution of materials, for this is communism, and this, too, many of us repudiate. To bring about any equality in such a distribution means taking from the efficient, the industrious, the thrifty, the fruits of their labors, and, then, without compensation for their fruits so taken, bestowing them upon the nere-do-wells, the inefficients, the confirmed idlers. The efficient become, in this system, the slaves of the rest of society. This is the necessary incident of communism, and except where it replaces slavery, open or covert, communism has always meant the reduction of all men to near the lowest level, instead of the raising of all men to near the highest level, as communist leaders hypnotize their dupes into believing. (J. Reuben Clark, CN-12/14/46)
Free Enterprise System Not Perfect. No fair-minded person contends that the private enterprise system is perfect. It is operated by human beings who are full of imperfections. Many of us deplore the fact that a few of our corporate entities seem to lack that social consciousness proportionate to their power and the privileges granted them by the state. Some businesses apparently still fail to recognize that there are social and spiritual values as well as profits that should be considered in their operations. Neither do our needs always correspond to our demands under the free enterprise system.
. . . With all of its weaknesses, our free enterprise system has accomplished in terms of human welfare that which no other economic or social system has even approached. Our freedom of individual opportunity permits us to draw upon our natural resources and upon the total brain and brawn power of the nation in a most effective manner. This freedom of individual choice inspires competition inspires shrewd and efficient management [p. 164] which is conducive to the production of the best product possible at the lowest price.
Are we to discard a system that has produced so much simply because it has not worked perfectly? We all admit there are abuses. One should not condemn an entire system because of the abuses of a handful of those who do not play the game according to established rules . . . .
Although we all cherish the material blessings which flow from the American system of individual achievement, it would be folly for us to close our eyes to certain challenging and dangerous trends which are in evidence and which strike at its very foundation . . . .
Dangerous Trends. In addition, during the past twenty-five or thirty years, particularly, loud voices have been calling attention to the weaknesses of private enterprise without pointing out its virtues. For a generation now we have been teaching our people to depend upon government instead of relying upon their own initiative as did our pioneer forefathers. Our freedom to work out cur individual destinies has already been abridged. We have been looking upon government as something apart from us and have failed to realize that we, the people, are the government.
For a generation we have also been making individual success unpopular. There has been a tendency to refer to men who have cash to invest in tools and equipment for the use of workers as coupon clippers, economic royalists, capitalists, and profiteersas though there were something inherently bad in it. Evidence of this fact is found in the writings and discussions of our high school and college students, the majority of whom, it is reported, believe private enterprise is a failure although they dont have a clear understanding of what private enterprise is. With them, as with many of the adults, there is a vague notion that it is some unfair system which tends to give special advantage to the big corporations and wealthy individuals. This attitude is encouraged by certain textbook writers who hold the idea, in many cases, that a government-planned economy is the remedy for all of our economic ills, and the weaknesses in our American way of life, to which they readily point without referring to the beneficient fruits of the system . . . .
The Real Danger. In a democracy the real danger is that we may slowly slide into a condition of slavery of the individual to the state rather than entering this condition by a sudden revolution. The loss of our liberties may easily come about, not through the ballot box, but through the death of incentive to [p. 165] work, to earn, and save. Such a condition is usually brought about by a series of little steps which, at the time, seem justified by a variety of reasons and which may on the surface appear to be laudable as to intent. It has been pointed out that the more basic reasons offered by the would be planned economy advocates are: (1) The desire to change and control others. (2) the search for security, and (3) the desire of individuals or groups to improve their own economic status or that of others by means of direct governmental intervention.
Europe today is evidence of the fact that one of the most common routes towards serfdom is followed by those in search of economic security. Never has there been so much apparent interest in security. Many programs so labeled have wide appeal. In order properly to appraise any so-called governmental security plan, however, we must look behind its name. Many se-called progressive programs are attractively labeled, and if we are to preserve our freedom and liberty, we must constantly analyze the nature of issues and programs and ignore labels that have been attached to them.
Equality is also a favorite term. Most people believe themselves to be below the average income; therefore they feel they stand to gain through equalization via governmental intervention. All would like to equalize with those who are better off than they themselves. They fail to realize that incomes differ, and will always differ, because people differ in their economic drive and ability. The evidence clearly indicates that government has been unable to prevent inequality of incomes and further, that equalization efforts usually stifle initiative and retard progress to the extent that the real incomes of everyone are lowered.
Many of our problems and dangers center in the issues of so-called fair prices, wages, and profits and the relationship between management and labor. We must realize that it is just as possible for wages to be too high as it is for prices and profits to be excessive.
There is a tendency, of course, for almost everyone to feel that his share is unfair whether it is or not. An effort to adjust apparent inequities often calls for government subsidies. Too often these are authorized without asking the question, Who will pay for them? Much of our program of letting the government pay for it can be described as an attempt to better yourself by increasing your pay to yourself and then sending yourself the bill.
The Only AnswerThe Free Market. The only safe and solid answer is the mechanism of a free market operating in an [p. 166] environment of really free private enterprise and free competition.(6) Here everyone has a chance to cast his vote in the election which will decide what is a fair price, fair wage, and profit, and what should be produced and in what quantities. To contradict the justice of that decision is to contradict the whole concept of justice by the democratic process. All will agree that the democratic processes and the free market- both parts of our American way of lifeare not perfect, but they are believed to have fewer faults and to do a better job than any other known device. A sure way to take a shortcut to serfdom is to discard the sovereign rights of all the people in either the political or economic realm.
We must remember that government assistance and control(7) are essentially political provisions and that experience has demonstrated that, for that reason, they are not sufficiently stable to warrant their utilization as a foundation for sound economic growth under a free enterprise system. The best waythe American wayis still maximum freedom for the individual guaranteed by a wise government which establishes and enforces the rules of the game.
History records that eventually a people gets the form of government it deserves. Good government, which guarantees the maximum of freedom, liberty, and development to the individual, must be based upon sound principles, and we must ever remember that ideas and principles are either sound or unsound in spite of those who hold them.(8) [p. 167]
Freedom of achievement has achieved and will continue to produce the maximum of benefits in terms of human welfare. Our way of life is based upon eternal principles. It rests upon a deep spiritual foundation which was established by inspired instruments of an all-wise Providence. (Ezra Taft Benson, 1948, E-51:362)
Full Economic Freedom. This to me means the right of every citizen to pursue that particular vocational activity which he wishes to follow, unregimented, untrammelled, uncontrolled, subject to the right of every other citizen to have the same privilege.(9) This means each citizen must yield something from his full liberty for the benefit of others, so that he and they may live together without any one unduly infringing upon the rights of another, each enjoying the resulting right of free enterprise.(10) (J. Reuben Clark, CN- 12/14/46)
The fostering of full economic freedom lies at the base of our liberties. Only in perpetuating economic freedom can our social, political and religious liberties be preserved . . . .(11) (President David 0. McKay, CN-3/12/52)
Constitution Stands for Free Enterprise. In order to accomplish any great work a people must be prepared for it, in the most minute detail.
To save the Constitution, either when it hangs by a thread or at any other time, our people must be fully prepared. Part of the preparation is that they shall understand the Constitution [p. 168] and be willing to accept the provisions set forth therein. Nobody is going to risk very much to save an instrument which he does not understand, nor is he going to jeopardize his life or property to preserve principles he does not accept.
If some day the elders of this Church will step forth and save the Constitution, then the elders of this Church must be fully conversant with the Constitution and be wholeheartedly converted to the high principles of free government which it embodies. Are we thus converted? Are we thus prepared?
How many of the Latter-day Saints truly believe in the Constitution of the United States? That Constitution stands for free initiative. That is free agency. In a business sense we have spoken of it as free private enterprise. Are the Latter-day Saints as a people willing to accept the principle of free enterprise? There are some among us who are teaching that free enterprise is wrong. These same individuals would do away with the capitalistic system, setting forth its many abuses.
It is true that many abuses of the capitalistic system have taken place. Nevertheless, capitalism is an outgrowth of free enterprise in business. Free enterprise in business is an outgrowth of free enterprise in a general sense, and free enterprise in a general sense is free agencythe principle to which Latter-day Saints are committed.(12)
If we were to ask those who oppose free enterprise in business, including the capitalistic system, what they would put in the place of these things, they have but one answer, which is socialistic. They would have government-operated and govern-ment- controlled business, which is Socialism. Socialism is a step on the road to Communism.(13) Communism is anti-Christ. Are [p. 169] the Latter-day Saints willing to engage in a program that would lead to Communism? Are they willing to aid and abet the antiChrist in any sense? Are they willing to accept Socialism instead of freedom? Not if they understand their religion.(14) (Mark E. Petersen, CN-4/16/50)
The Doctrine of Work. This doctrine of work lies at the very foundation of the capitalistic system. Many people misunderstand and misinterpret capitalism. They think that because the word capital is used to designate the system that its chief purpose is to make wealthy men who are usually called capitalists, and whose wealth, it is feared, is too often accumulated at the expense of poorer classes. I admit that there are instances, altogether too many, where this comes about. But this is not the true concept of capitalism. The capitalistic system in its inner essence is little, if anything, more than a mans free right to work, to choose his work, and enjoy the rewards of his efforts. In my estimation, it is a most precious thing, and it is indispensable to the liberty and freedom of which America boasts. It is the only tried and tested system of free enterprise in this world and every other opposing system is built on an abridgment of personal liberty . . . . (15)
We will lose it if we do not understand it and recognize its virtues. It is not the capitalistic system itself that makes some men rich and some men poor. The men themselves do that, again with some exceptions. The system merely offers the opportuni ties. There are, of course, abuses within it, as there must always be when humanity is involved. It does not guarantee that all men will be rich, and it is worthy of note that all systems which do, usually succeed only in making all poor. To eradicate the abuses within the system is almost as difficult as to reform humanity. [p. 170] But who would advocate killing humanity because they are slow to reform? . . .
Patience Needed. We must be patient with our American system. It will take a long time to eliminate the imperfections in its operation. To be patient it is necessary to be toleranttolerant of other people and their views. Everything we do in America is a composite of many opinions. The unifying element in our national affairs is common purpose and desire. I like to think that all Americans, however their views may vary as to methods and policies, have common a desire to maintain our fundamental liberties, one of the most important of which is our system of free enterprise. So I hesitate to impugn mens motives, even though I do not agree with their methods. I make these observations because I want to enter a plea for intelligent cooperation among all who have regard for our American institutions and principles.
There is a great need for cooperation in the field of economics. Our citizens must themselves be educated to understand the system under which they live and work. They must know enough to establish the proper education for themselves and their children and reach conclusions for themselves. I believe that it is neither wise nor sale to leave the determination of our educational systems and policies exclusively to the professional educators.(16)
Work Creates Wealth. I am sure, too, that the people of the United States will, through work, create wealth and in that creation give employment and happiness, if only the natural laws upon which free enterprise has been established are allowed to freely operate. But wealth cannot be created in sufficient amount to go around and bring prosperity to all the people if those laws are seriously contravened by any group in our societycapital, labor, or government. Nothing but work can create wealth in this day and ageproductive work of the laborer. Other manipulations [p. 171] may seem to do it but they do not create real wealth that feeds and clothes and houses and makes happy people. The Government cannot do it because in final analysis it is not possessed of the elemental necessities for the creation of wealth. Of itself it has no capital and it has no labor. All that it can do is take from one and give to another. It takes by taxation, its only ultimate source of revenue; and it gives in wages, subsidies, bounties, and many other ways, but it does not create wealth and the creation of wealth lies at the basis of prosperity.(17) (Stephen L Richards, CR-10/39:67-70)
False Prophets in Economic Field. False prophets and christs, as foretold by the Savior, may come to deceive us not alone in the name of religion, but if we can believe the history of Italy and Germany and Russia, they may come under the label of politicians or of social planners or so-called economists,(18) deceitful in their offerings of a kind of salvation which may come under such guise.(19) (Harold B. Lee, CR-10/50:131).
Profits Are Necessary. How absurd for well-paid workers to say that the profits belong to them! But in the long run, who gets most of the profits? I answer, the workers and the public, not the stockholders: the workers, in jobs; the public, in better [p. 172] goods and services. But it is the savings of these thrifty stockholders who risk their money and are satisfied with relatively small returns on their investment that make it possible for corporations to come into existence and create jobs for the workers and goods for the public.(20)
How foolish and senseless to contend that the stockholders should get no returns on their ventured money, and that depreciation reserves should not be set up. Fourteen years  ago when we were in London, we came to know that labor leaders in Britain were agreed that working invested capital was entitled to five percent annual dividends and that funds for depreciation should be provided. But in these respects I fear that Britain has since been influenced by what she sees in Americaselfish demands of unions, irrespective of what is fair and just.(21) (Joseph F. Merrill, CR-4/50:61).
Purchasing Power. And how will more and better work of the employed add to all incomes and purchasing? Answer: First, by making it possible to reduce prices so that families even without raising present incomes may buy all that they now buy at lower prices and have sufficient money left over to buy more and other goods; and, secondly, the increased volume of commodities purchased will mean larger production, and larger production means the employment of more workers.
It is of course very trite and commonplace to assert that what the country most needs is more purchasing power. Everybody knows that. But it is not so obvious that increased purchasing power is largely the result of lower prices and that after all our real problem is not so much with the unemployed as with [p. 173] the employed. This is so because whenever a man who has a job does his work better and more efficiently he makes it possible to reduce the price of the commodity or the service, thus adding, as I have heretofore pointed out, to the consumers purchasing ability. There is very respectable authority and abundant statistical data to prove this conclusion.
But do reduced prices always follow better work and methods? I am sorry to say that they do not, and it is chiefly because prices do not decline that the volume of sales does not increase, that our prosperity is stifled, that discouraging unemployment persists, that government pursues such costly experimental remedies, and that our whole system of free enterprise is threatened.
Now I am induced to bring these matters to your attention because I firmly believe there is a very definite relationship between them and the concepts, practices, and teachings of our Church, and because I want our people to know that approved economic theory makes practical and feasible many aspects of our teachings. (Stephen L Richards, CR-10/39:65)
Individualism. I believe in individualism(22) as opposed to paternalism. In saying this, I recognize the fact that a mans duties to himself and to his fellow men are indissolubly connected. Jesus taught that if a man is true to his own highest interests, he cannot fail to discharge his obligations to his neighbors. Conversely, He taught that if a man is faithful to the interests of his fellow men, he cannot be faithless to his own. And as a man thinks, so he acts.
Within my experience, there has never been a time when the doctrine of individual initiative and individual effort should be more generally taught and more earnestly put into effect than at the present day.
Too many men are claiming that the world owes them a living, and they are sitting effortlessly by expecting the world to throw its luxuries into their passive laps. Too late they will learn that the earth rewards richly only the strenuous strugglers.
Work brings happiness, and that happiness is doubled to him who initiates the work. [p. 174]
Too many of us fail to take advantage of opportunities near at hand. We justify inactivity by nursing the impotent thought that success cannot be obtained without influence, money, social, or political pull. . . . (President David O. McKay, 1961, 196:289)
Self-Reliance. Brigham Youngs teachings were Do not run into debt; pay as you go; and I am a firm believer that this is good advice to the individual and to the inhabitants of a city, a county, or a stateor, I might add a nation.
I am a firm believer that men should be sell-reliant. I quote from William George Jordans book entitled The Majesty of Calmness because William George Jordan writes everything better than I could write it or say it:
The man who is self-reliant seeks ever to discover and conquer the weakness within him that keeps him from the attainment of what he holds dearest; he seeks within himself the power to battle against all outside influences. He realizes that all the greatest men in history, in every phase of human effort, have been those who have had to fight against the odds of sickness, suffering, sorrow. To him defeat is no more than passing through a tunnel is to a travelerhe knows he must emerge again into the sunlight.
And we know that we must emerge again here in this nation.
The nation that is strongest is the one that is most self-reliant, the one that contains within its boundaries all that its people need. If, with its ports all blockaded, it has not within itself the necessities of life, and the elements of its continual, progress, thenit is weak, held by the enemy, and it is but a question of time till it must surrender. Its independence is in proportion to its self-reliance, to its power to sustain itself from within. What is true of nations is true of individuals. The history of nations is but the biography of an individual. So it must be that the individual who is most strong in any trial, sorrow, or need is he who can live from his inherent strength, who needs no scaffolding of commonplace sympathy to uphold him. He must ever be self-reliant.
(President Heber J. Grant, 1936, E-39:524)
Property Rights Essential to Liberty. Thus, today, brethren, we are in danger of actually surrendering our personal and property rights.(23) This development, if it does occur in full form, [p. 175] will be a sad tragedy for our people. We must recognize that property rights are essential to human liberty.(24)
Former United States Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland, from our own state, carefully stated it as follows:
It is not the right of property which is protected, but the right TO property. Property, per se, has no rights; but the individualthe manhas three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference; the RIGHT TO HIS LIFE, the RIGHT TO HIS LIBERTY, and the RIGHT TO HIS PROPERTY. The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially ONE right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes life worth living. To give him liberty but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.(25) (From a speech before the New York State Bar Association, January 21, 1921)
(President David O. McKay, CR-10/62:6)
One great principle which has existed among men from the beginning of creation until now, is a desire, planted within them by the Almighty, to possess property(26)lands, houses, farms, etc . . . . As I said before, this principle is correct, only it wants controlling according to the revelations of God. (John Taylor, 1873, JD-15:268)
Time is Real Capital. With regard to property, as I have told you many times the property which we inherit from our Heavenly Father is our time, and the power to choose in the disposition of the same. This is the real capital that is bequeathed unto us by our Heavenly Father; all the rest is what he may be [p. 176] pleased to add unto us. To direct, to counsel and to advise in the disposition of our time, pertains to our calling as Gods servants, according to the wisdom which he has given and will continue to give unto us as we seek it. (President Brigham Young, 1877, JD-18:354)
NeededA Free Agriculture. I want to say just a word about agriculture. There is a real threat to the socialization of agriculture in the United States, the most productive agriculture in all the world. The only justification for paying farmers not to produce is the fact that Congress, through outmoded legislation, has contributed to the post-war imbalance and has prevented the needed adjustment. Outmoded laws have prevented economic forces in the market from directing production and consumption.
It is my conviction that if Congress fails to enact needed legislation to do away with rigid controls and price fixing, then we should terminate programs such as the conservation reserve and other programs of land rental by the government. Farmers overwhelmingly want to stand on their own feet, in a free market. They disapprove of the governments attempt at production controls and price-fixing which has been a colossal failure. The result of the recent election in the Midwest is further evidence of the truth of what I have just stated. You cannot run the farms of this country from a desk in Washington, I care not how smart you are.
Before I left Washington, I dictated this:
The economics of the farm dilemma is simple; it is the politics of the problem that is baffling. What farmers want and need is less government in the farming businessless politics in agriculture. In January, 1961, four-fifths of agriculture was free of government controls and doing fairly well. It is in areas where government has been most solicitous and has interfered most that we are in real difficulties. Futile attempts by government to control production and fix prices at artificial levels are the cause. The old basic crop legislationmuch of it still on the booksis outmoded and fails of its objective. It has placed ineffective bureaucratic controls on farmers, destroyed markets, piled up surpluses, and has imposed heavy burdens on taxpayers. It does not fit the needs of the small farmer. It was devised during a period of depression, revised during war, and today we have neither depression nor war, and it does not fit.
Yes, the economics of the farm problem is simple: less government in farming. Quit trying to fix prices unrealisticly, from which flow the twin evils of production for government warehouses and control of farmers. Emphasize markets, increased efficiency, competitive selling. Eliminate governments [p. 177] stranglehold on agriculture. This is the solution. (Ezra Taft (Ezra Taft Benson, BYU, 5/24/61.)
What To Do. This is what we must do:
1. Get government out of price fixing(27) and futile attempts at production controls.
2. Increase efficiency.
3. Expand markets.
4. Work for increased bargaining power in agriculture.
5. Control monopolies in major industries, labor, and elsewhere.
6. Check inflationdeficit spending is the principal cause.
7. Support the competitive price, free market, capitalistic system as the best system in this world.
Our people must remain free. Our economy must remain free. Free of excessive government paternalism,(28) regimentation and control. We must not encourage agricultural dictatorship administered by socialists in Washington.(29) (Ezra Taft Benson, 10/10/62)
NeededA Consciousness of Freedom. The first step in spiritual strength is a consciousness of freedom. This is the principle which began when Christ accepted the appointment to his earthly mission. It is free agency, and it is fundamental to individual freedom . . . . He would give to each one the right of free agency. There is the beginning of soul progress. God desires to make men like himself, but to do so he must first make them free. Yes, it is the sense of freedom. You may do as you please; accept or reject the highest and best in life; agree or disagree with the selfishness, enmity, and antagonism of the world. (President David O. McKay, 1964, E-67:1028-9)
1. Perpetually. governments have thwarted and deranged the growth, but have in no way furthered it; save by partially discharging their proper function and maintaining social order . . . . It is not to the State that we owe the multitudinous useful inventions from the spade to the telephone . . . . All these are the results of the spontaneous activities of citizens, separate or grouped. Nay, to these spontaneous activities governments owe the very means of performing their duties. (Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus The State, p. 103).
2. If history could prove and teach us anything, it would be that private ownership of the means of production is a necessary requisite of civilization and material well-being. All civilizations have up to now been based on private property. Only nations committed to the principle of private property have risen above penury and produced science, art and literature. There is no experience to show that any other social system could provide mankind with any of the achievements of civilization. (Ludwig von Mises, Socialism, p. 583)
3. Still one thing more, fellow citizensa wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government . . . (Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address).
4. I shall define economic freedom as that set of economic arrangements that would exist in a society in which the governments only function would be to prevent one man from using force or fraud against anotherincluding within this, of course, the task of national defense. So that there can be no misunderstanding here, let me say that this is pure, uncompromising laissez faire economics. It is not the mixed economy; it is the unmixed economy . . . .
The most important part of the case for economic freedom is not its vaunted efficiency as a system for organizing resources, not its dramatic success in promoting economic growth, but rather its consistency with certain fundamental moral principles of life itself . . . . If economic freedom survives in the year ahead, it will be only because the majority of the people accept its basic morality. (Benjamin A. Rogge, The Freeman, Sept., 1963, p. 3-5)
5. In a free economy the sovereign consumers, most of whom are working men, decide through buying or abstaining from buying who is to stay in business and who is to be liquidated through loss and bankruptcy. To call this survival of the fittest not only is dangerously misleading, but also may reflect inability, envy, and sour grapes. Especially those who fail often denounce economic competition as a contest in fraud, trickery, and thievery.
The truth is quite different. Our laws against fraud and theft are as ancient as our civilization. And those economic shortcomings that are not avenged by the law, such as faulty or inferior production, exhorbitant prices, inconsideration for consumers or workers, are requited by loss and bankruptcy. Indeed, the competitive economy is most inducive to moral behavior as it amply rewards honesty, integrity, and industry. (Hans Sennholz, American Opinion, Sept., 1963, p. 63)
6. What alone can prevent the civilized nations of Western Europe, America and Australia from being enslaved by the barbarism of Moscow is open and unrestricted support of laissez-faire capitalism. (Ludwig von Mises, The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, p. 112)
7. First, we should never forget that the only thing governments can control is people. For example, governments never control prices, just people. A can of beans doesnt care what its price is. But people carethe people who grow the beans, can the beans, sell the beans, and consume the beans. And thats all that price controls can ever meanpeople control. It is another of those truisms that most of us never see, or choose to ignore. The phrase, price control, generally brings a picture of government action to help people. But when we give the process its correct descriptive title, people control, quite another picture comes to mind. For obviously, when the government controls people, it necessarily deprives them of their freedom. (Dean Russell, Essays on Liberty 10:203-4)
8. So the first thing to be done by all of us with a basic faith in liberty is to acquire an understanding of it so thorough that adoption in daily practice becomes clear and automatic, like the things we do in our daily occupational duties. This degree of understanding is not easy. It is not to be bought in the store with nickels and dimes. Its understanding must be acquired in the same manner as that of any other complex subject, through long and careful study and thought . . . . Correct action automatically follows understandingthe only route to correct action. Nothing else will serve. (F. A. Harper, Liberty: A Path to Its Recovery, p. 126)
9. Laissez faire does not mean: let soulless mechanical forces operate. It means: let individuals choose how they want to cooperate in the social division of labor and let them determine what the entrepreneurs should produce . . . . Laissez faire means: let the individual citizen, the much talked-about common man, choose and act and do not force him to yield to a dictator. (Ludwig von Mises, Planning [or Freedom, p. 45-9)
10. The citizen of the United States is taught from his earliest infancy to rely upon his own exertions in order to resist the evils and the difficulties of life; he looks upon social authority with an eye of mistrust and anxiety, and he only claims its assistance when he is quite unable to shift without it . . . .
When a private individual meditates an undertaking, however directly connected it may be with the welfare of society, he never thinks of soliciting the cooperation of the government, but he publishes his plan, offers to execute it himself, courts the assistance of other individuals, and struggles manfully against all obstacles. Undoubtedly he is often less successful than the state might have been in his position; but in the end the sum of these private undertakings far exceeds all that the government could have done. (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835, Democracy in America, 1:97).
11. The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom. It is no accident that the age of capitalism became also the age of government by the people. If individuals are not free to buy and to sell on the market, they turn into virtual slaves dependent on the good graces of the omnipotent government, whatever the wording of the constitution may be. (Ludwig von Mises, Planning for Freedom, p. 38).
12. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentrated power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminateda system of checks and balances. By removing the organization of economic activity from the control of political authority, the market eliminates this source of coercive power. It enables economic strength to be a check to political power rather than a reinforcement. (Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, p. 15)
13. It is not true that the masses are vehemently asking for socialism and that there is no means to resist them. The masses favour socialism because they trust the socialist propaganda of the intellectuals. The intellectuals, not the populace, are moulding public opinion. It is a lame excuse of the intellectuals that they must yield to the masses. They themselves have generated the socialist ideas and indoctrinated the masses with them . . . .
The intellectual leaders of the peoples have produced and propagated the fallacies which are on the point of destroying liberty and Western civilization. The intellectuals alone are responsible for the mass slaughters which are the characteristic mark of our century. They alone can reverse the trend and pave the way for a resurrection of freedom. (Ludwig von Mises, Socialism, p. 591-2)
14. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear that this government, the worlds best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? . . . Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own federal and republican principles, our attachment to our union and representative government. (Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address)
15. Now, capitalism, or private enterprise, is simply another name /or liberty in the economic sphere. It leaves the individual free to produce what he wants and free to consume what he wants. It allows him to keep the fruits of his labor. It protects him in the right by the institution of private property. Private enterprise is not merely a means; it is not simply a remarkable gadget for production; it is also an end in itself. It is the system of economic liberty. Once economic liberty is abridged, or destroyed, all other liberty is abridged or destroyed with it. Power over a mans subsistence, said Alexander Hamilton, is power over his will. The freedom to spend is only a little less important than the freedom to earn. (Henry Hazlitt, Newsweek, 7/18/60)
16. What is unsatisfactory with present-day academic conditionsnot only in this country but in most foreign nationsis not the fact that many teachers are blindly committed to Veblenian, Marxian and Keynesian fallacies, and try to convince their students that no tenable objections can be raised against what they call progressive policies. The mischief is rather to be seen in the fact that the statements of these teachers are not challenged by any criticism in the academic sphere. The psuedo-liberals monopolize the teaching jobs at many universities. Only men who agree with them are appointed as teachers and instructors of the social sciences, and only textbooks supporting their ideas are used. The essential question is not how to get rid of inept teachers and poor textbook. It is how to give the students an opportunity to hear something about the ideas of economists rejecting the tenets of the interventionists, inflationists, Socialists and Communists. (Ludwig von Mises, Planning for Freedom, p. 152)
17. A favorite topic for socialist and liberal discussion is the growth of the national economy . . . . Growth propaganda plays an important role in all Socialistic and Communistic countries. It is good psychology on the part of central planners and dictators to impress their peoples with growth reports which are suited to create new hope for future improvements in living conditions. Growth propaganda is all the more important when the people subsist in want and despair. To promise the future in the miseries of the present is a proved socialistic strategem. (Hans F. Sennholz, Human Events, Oct. 26, 1963, p. 9)
18. Society needs first of all to be freed from . . . meddlersthat is, to be let alone. Here we are, then, once more back at the old doctrineLaissez faire. Let us translate it into blunt English, and it will read, Mind your own business. It is nothing but the doctrine of liberty. Let every man be happy in his own way. If his sphere of action and interest impinges on that of any other man, there will have to be compromise and adjustment. Wait for the occasion. Do not attempt to generalize those interferences or to plan for them a priori . . . . Practice the utmost reserve possible in your interferences even of this kind, and by no means seize occasion for interfering with natural adjustments. Try first long and patiently whether the natural adjustment will not come about through the play of interests and the voluntary concessions of the parties. (William Graham Sumner, What Social Classes Owe To Each Other, p. 104).
19. This government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. (Henry D. Thoreau, quoted in The Freeman, Aug., 1963, p. 53)
20. As every individual endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value . . . . He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it . . . he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, IV, 2)
21. There is no reason why capitalists and entrepreneurs should be ashamed of earning profits. It is silly that some people try to defend American capitalism by declaring: The record of American business is good; profits are not too high. The function of entrepreneurs is to make profits; high profits are the proof that they have well performed their task of removing maladjustments of production . . . .
Men must choose between capitalism and socialism. They cannot avoid this dilemma by resorting to a capitalist system without entrepreneurial profit. Every step toward the elimination of profit is progress on the way toward social disintegration. (Ludwig von Mises, Planning For Freedom, p. 146-150)
22. The main merit of the individualism which [Adam Smith] and his contemporaries advocated is that it is a system under which bad men can do least harm. It is a social system which does not depend for its functioning on our finding good men for running it, or on all men becoming better than they now are, but which makes use of men in all their given variety and complexity, sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes intelligent and more often stupid. Their aim was a system under which it should be possible to grant freedom to all . . . . (F. A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order, p. 11)
23. The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist. (John Adams, quoted in The Freeman, Jan., 1957, p. 27)
24. The great and chief end of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property; (John Locke, Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 124)
25. Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own . . . . That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest. (James Madison, The Complete Madison, p. 267)
26. Property is the fruit of labor. Property is desirable, it is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence . . . . I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I dont believe in law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. (Abraham Lincoln, reply to Workingmens Association of New York, March 21, 1864; speech, New Haven, Conn., March 6, 1860.)
27. Actually, when you stop and think about it, no government can ever really support a price. Prices dont give a hang about supports; its not their nature. The nature o/ all governmental schemes to support prices is this: Some people who control the police powers of government use them to take money from other people who have earned it, and to give it to still other people who have not earned it. Thats all it is. Calling it by another name cannot change its nature, for better or for worse. (Dean Russell, Essays On Liberty 9:175)
28. Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread. (Thomas Jefferson, quoted in CR-10/46:31)
29. Agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise. (Thomas Jefferson, First Annual Message). [p. 178]