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Being free without money or having money without freedom each leave the heart yearning. If resources are poured into an undemocratic society the powerful and ruthless will grab the resources and financially, perhaps literally, enslave the rest. We often see this in two class societies in the undeveloped world—the wealthy upper class and poor lower class. If society is democratic but has no resources, life for the people will still be a struggle.
A vital principle of Free Enterprise is that when an entrepreneur succeeds, all those he hired, who ship his product, who sell his product, etc. benefit. “All boats rise with the tide” is a relevant saying. Society must have a robust economy if it is to provide a satisfying standard of living. Society needs entrepreneurs to drive and maintain a robust economy.
A robust economy can not guarantee a social nirvana. Money alone cannot cause one to be a good person. Having money for decent housing, medical care and education for the children will not make one a good person. It will provide a standard of living that, if operating in a democratic system, allows one to discover and use his natural talents. All benefit when each person focuses on developing his individual/natural talents.
Democracy and Free Enterprise alone cannot create “Heaven on Earth.” But without them, “Hell on Earth” is much more likely. Poverty and oppression are cancers that sap the strength out of society and each individual in it. When the hunger pangs are gone and the individual is free, there is a chance for everyone to have a better life.
Democracy and Free Enterprise are worth whatever it takes to establish them. Dr. Polak demonstrates in his book, Out Of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, that you cannot donate a society out of poverty. Unless that society throws off it’s own shackles, as soon as a well meaning benefactor removes the shackles, an opportunist will find a way to re-shackle it!
To paraphrase Dr. Polak, the way to raise the standard of living in the undeveloped world is to awaken it’s entrepreneurial spirit. If we want to effect lasting change in the undeveloped world, we can help it discover it’s entrepreneurial spirit. Assist it to develop a thirst for grass roots democracy. It’s own natural inclinations will lead it forward from there. Democracy and Free Enterprise go hand in hand.