Free Enterprise must be a Good Thing. A very Good Thing. So good that it is worth dying for. So good that it is worth sending young men and women to far-off lands to get blown to bits for. We remember them today, the dead and the maimed, the bereaved and the dispossessed.
Dignitaries will lay wreaths to honor them. Sonorous speeches will resound across the land. Church sanctuaries will echo with sad and stirring music. Let’s hear it for the heroes who put their lives on the line to preserve our way of life.
Americans are free to watch football, eat hotdogs, drink beer, fly the flag, set off breathtaking fireworks, and do all the things Free Enterprise requires in order to sustain consumer demand.
So what’s wrong with that? Do I think Communism would be better?
No, I do not.
Look at what happened in the Soviet Union. Look at what happened in China.
Clearly, communism did not work in those countries.
Granted, the free market has not worked in the Soviet Union, either. When the Communist experiment imploded, mobsters seized control of Russia’s economy. Privatized companies were looted by their new owners. Now, Russia is reportedly controlled by ex-KGB spooks and shadowy billionaires with questionable connections.
China has prospered under a version of private enterprise – not free enterprise, of course, because the government controls the market. But not communism, either. The egalitarian principle that Chairman Mao espoused is long gone. China is as much an oligarchy today as Russia.
I wouldn’t want to live in Russia. I wouldn’t want to live in China. Who would want to live in a country where the government dictates how many children you can have and forces women to abort excess babies?
Freedom is forever under attack, even in America. American women are not as free as they were a few years ago. Legislatures across the nation are imposing limits on their right to abortions – and even birth control.
Still, Americans enjoy a lot more freedom and prosperity than most other people around the world.
There’s always room for improvement, of course. But compared with most countries, I guess we’ve got it pretty good, you and I, with our barbecues and bikinis, our SUVs and ATVs, our laptops and smart phones…
But it comes at a cost.
And today we pause to remember those who pay the price. Perhaps the most appropriate way to honor them is not just to fight for Free Enterprise but to fight to make it work better, to police the looters and protect the rights of ordinary citizens.
And that includes not only our investors but also our women, whose liberties are gravely threatened on this Memorial Day.