Steamboat Springs “If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose — because it contains all the others — the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity — to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.”
— Francisco d’Anconia, from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”
Put another way, wealth is the product of the energy, ingenuity, creativity and persistence of the human spirit. In the end, wealth is not something that, by and large, can be stored to be spread around. There is little intrinsic value to a dollar. (Maybe it can be used to start a fire.) The dollar only has value because of the confidence that men and women will employ their energy, ingenuity, creativity and persistence to create goods and services of value for which that small sheet of paper may be exchanged.
It would follow, then, that the creation of wealth is something to be encouraged. The inventor, the industrialist and the high-quality service provider create wealth — not just for themselves, but for multitudes around them. To create goods and services on any large scale requires the employment of various people with various skills. As the demand for people with a particular skill increases, the price or wage that must be paid to obtain these services increases. Employment and wage rates increase. Also, the employees, contractors and business owners reaping income from this enterprise will want to obtain other goods and services for themselves, thus causing other enterprises to prosper and the positive cycle to continue and expand. To the extent that the income generated from these enterprises is not used to buy goods and services, it is invested, which provides available capital for yet further enterprises.
This is a major point at which the policies of our liberal friends miss the boat. They view wealth as static — something to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor — as opposed to something that is dynamic that must be created daily and something that spreads itself around naturally. The liberals’ policies generally operate not just on the premise that wealth is static, but also on envy. Their policies involve taxation and regulation to prevent anyone from becoming too wealthy. These policies, in fact, prevent, or at least discourage, the creation of wealth described above. Consequently, these policies decrease the wealth for the entire populous.
While we are all created equal, different people have different talents, and degrees of talent, as well as different degrees of creativity, persistence and willingness to work hard. As a direct result, different people will enjoy different degrees of economic success. This is a basic law of economics, and attempting to defeat this basic law merely drags down the economic achievement of the entire populous.
The answer here, as it is in virtually all cases, is “Freedom.” The key is to unleash the boundless energies and talents of the human spirit. To quote Milton Friedman, “The lesson of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.”
As former Colorado Congressman Bob Schaffer is fond of saying, “It’s all about freedom.”
Let’s give freedom a chance.
To learn more about these principles, attend The Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference, Aug. 27 and 28 at The Steamboat Grand, featuring Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute and economist Dan Mitchell, as well as noted public figures, including Karl Rove. Go to www.steamboatinstitute.org for information and to register.
Rick Akin is an attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs, Denver and Austin, Texas, a former member of the Steamboat Pilot & Today Editorial Board, and is vice chairman of The Steamboat Institute. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in letters from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate from the University of Texas.