Commerce is the Mother’s Milk of OPPORTUNITY and HOPE

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I feel like it is everywhere—the need for a society, community, nation, ethnic sub-group, cultural niche, etc. to “have a better life!” The people I refer to, largely 3rd world, don’t have flat screen tvs, doctors they can taxi to in twenty minutes, indoor plumbing, the option to eat three meals a day, free education, regular hot showers, $100 walking shoes, and more clothes than they can wear—I am not talking about America’s poor who nowadays live better than did royalty in the 1700s. For them, opportunity is not totally absent, there are some ladders up and a few make the climb. I pray for the day when every kid in an American ghetto sees and uses a ladder to the middle class. But the poor in America’s ghettos are NOT the people I am talking about.

Nor am I saying that material things make people happy. But I am saying that when life’s essentials are daily in question, there is little energy for happiness. Get the economy going and the essentials for living available and then one is free to choose happiness.

I am talking about pockets in the 3rd world where the life they lead is one of survival and seems devoid of opportunity and hope. Think Somalia, the Sudan, and Haiti. With the absence of opportunity, and it’s follow-up companion—hope, existence in their world is bleak. On the national and international news, I see this over and over. It is easy on our planet to find groups of people who are strangers to opportunity and hope.

Then right away I start thinking, “maybe the fix needed is in the socio-economic fabric in which they live each day and not within their individual psyches. Rather than work on the attitude of individuals and send them each to a Tony Robbins fire walk or self-improvement program so they will individually buck up and get happy and start becoming a high performers—so they can overcome the blunting nature of their environment— I turn to: get commerce flowing vigorously in their world so hope and opportunity “just come naturally”! Then no individual prodding is needed. Basic Premise: people will look out for their own interests and most are of average or higher intelligence.

Therefore, when they have a reasonably good chance at having a “good life”, they will take that chance and will then feel like they have a good life! This seems to be true the world over!

Most will agree that the basics of individual health and public health are so important to the citizenry that the basics should be taught to children in school. Let’s also add basic instruction in personal wealth building and economic principles—“how economies work” could be taught in elementary and junior high school.

Sure, some won’t get it, some will decide not to apply the principles. Some will be unable to apply them. But the majority will get it. As they become adults they will take the reins and do what is good for them and for the economic vigor of their society. It is not rocket science! For a society to have a high standard of living, commerce needs to be robust. Trade needs to flow, or the transporters won’t have anything to transport. It follows, someone has to make or grow the things being transported. The things they grow or make must have value to the people—so there will spend their money for them. As they spend their money for essentials, and non-essentials, more jobs are created and more people go to work producing those essentials and non-essentials. They in turn spend the money from their job on goods and services. The market is kept active by the operation of these principles.

We say such an economy is sustainable—it will continue to function “on its own” because, just like water flows downhill without instructions and objects predictably fall to the ground when dropped from a height, the operations of a free economy are natural—they will automatically occur and continue to reoccur if not interfered with. Throughout history and all over the world, people will trade items of value for things they want. Someone will produce the desired items and sell them for a profit.

This is over simplified, but the basics are accurate. People do want things—essentials and, if they can afford them, non-essentials. They will give something of value, if they have it, to get those things. Someone will, for a profit, provide the desired essentials and non-essentials. This is human nature. There are some abuses and negative side effects to the free market system. But most people, in an economy that is sluggish or dead, would love the opportunity to deal with the abuses that seem petty when compared to the widespread malaise of a society with almost no economic activity.

The more vigorous the economy, the more likely that most people will have more money to spend. Like a watch with an eternal mainspring, the operations continue, and in so doing, stimulate even more jobs, more purchases, more children going to school because more parents can buy books and afford to spare their children from work in the fields, shops and kitchens. In the main, most people yearn to live in a society where economic growth is widespread and can be pretty much taken for granted.

Maybe if we make this very clear in places where the economy is dead or dying, especially if we jump start that near dead economy with some local production and jobs, and teach locals how we did it, at least some of the “have-nots” will become “haves.” Who knows—it might catch on! Give people economic opportunity, and hope for a “good life” will follow. Bleakness will fade away. Long live opportunity, and it’s offspring HOPE!