11-3-16 – The Fight to Save Free Market Capitalism

by Robert Letovsky

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably work or have worked in a for-profit business (if currently in government, the military or a nonprofit, thank you for your service.  This essay may not apply as directly to you). Over the past year, we’ve seen some of America’s most prominent CEO’s start to respond publicly and forcefully to the slander which passes for political discourse these days, notably but not exclusively from the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.  As a business professor at a liberal arts college, I was pleased to see that there was finally a rhetorical red line which, once crossed by critics of free market capitalism, would stimulate some type of response by business leaders who had seemed to surrender to their critics years ago.  However, anyone who thinks that we can now hand off the job of defending free markets to a select group of high profile corporate CEO’s is being dangerously myopic.  Of course CEO’s should speak out but that that will not be enough.

Whether you’re a manager or employee of a successful business, or the owner of a small to mid-sized business, ask yourself these simple questions: When was the last time you made an effort to present someone you know with an accurate picture of your company’s contributions to the community and the economy?  When was the last time you directly (but politely) challenged someone who was going on at length about how your company/industry conspires “to tear at the country’s moral fabric?”  When was the last time you asked your child’s teacher if you could do a short presentation to the class on what your company does, the jobs it creates, and how it serves the needs/wants of its customers?  When was the last time you looked into how business and free markets are presented at your alma mater?  For that matter, when was the first time you did any of these things?

In case you’re thinking that this kind of education must happen in a classroom, ideally presented by a pro-free market professor, then you really are disconnected.  It’s well known  that faculty who support free market capitalism are on the Endangered Species List at many if not most of the nation’s campuses.  Even at those institutions where that’s not the case, defending free market capitalism is a steep uphill climb. As someone who teaches first year students, I can tell you that on issues from free trade to regulation of business, pharmaceutical pricing to minimum wage levels, fracking to GMO’s, classroom and online discussions tell me that for most young adults, free market capitalism has already been tried and convicted.  Students  can be shown the facts about free markets, and it is gratifying to see when the light bulb goes on, but for all too many young people in this country, this type of epiphany doesn’t happen – and won’t if it all depends on a student selecting a particular class or professor.

I realize it may be unfair to say that anyone reading this blog who hasn’t gone public with their support for free markets and their company’s role in it is a coward.  It’s also unfair to say that none of you have ever tried to defend our system in some way. That said, I’m certain that each of you believes that the work you do every day — to provide for yourselves and your families, all the while paying taxes, employing other people and creating goods and services that meet peoples’ needs and improve their lives – is something to be proud of.  If you agree, then get off your butt and take up the fight.  In informal conversations with your family, friends or neighbors, at your kids’ schools, at your alma mater, simply present the facts about what you and your respective companies do every day.

“Too busy”?   Please! Keep that up and within a few years, you and your company really will be busy – complying with even more restrictive job-killing regulations and forking over an even greater percentage of your income to the big government paradise being promoted by the anti-capitalist left.

Robert Letovsky lives in Jericho and is Professor of Business Administration & Accounting at Saint Michael’s College.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug Richmond November 12, 2016 at 6:19 pm

I was in a small business, serving almost exclusively small businesses. I sold office products from a small store.
as such, I was in a unique position to promote free enterprise and the Capitalist free market business model. My customers who were tradesmen or sold flowers were understandably shy about speaking out “politically”. My advertizing concentrated of free choice, competition, and the advantages I might have over my much larger competitors. I did a biweekly guest editorial on WJOY radio for a dozen years championing free enterprise. The show was called “Spectrum”, but typically I was the only business owner, and the other 8 were politicians or gov’t/teacher types, with non-profits also in.
I was the last of a half dozen office products to fall to the big box advertizing and buying powers.
ask yoursefl whether you have been disappointed buying a refrigerator, or a microwave, computer or especially a Television- all free market unmolested industries. Ask yourself what gov’t service or gov’t controlled industry has been affordable and responsive to your needs? Medical? taxes? efficiency? Improved service at a lower price? NONE !


Doug Richmond November 12, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Thank you Robert Letovsky for the excellent essay you sponsored in support of your run for Vt Senate from Chittenden Co. Seldom any better is heard.

That impenetrable “Chitt. Co. Senate 6 Pak” has been impossible for anyone to penetrate
Hopefully, it planted a seed in listeners mind, and with tender care the Seeds of Freedom and Opportunity can again flourish


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