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FREE ENTERPRISE: THE PATHWAY TO ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

Economic Freedom and National Prosperity

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It is becoming evidently clear that nations get on when individuals are permitted to decide economic choices that represent their utmost interest. From America, to Japan then Europe, even the uninitiated can quickly reach an agreement that free market has helped to realize economic advancement in such zones. The concept of economic opulence to a considerable extent is inseparable from the theory of freedom which is a forerunner to economic abundance, even the law of first thing first agrees that something must come earlier as a source of development or advancement of another thing.

Prosperity is attained when labour is well channeled and constructive. Constructive labour involves the adequate use of one’s intellect and natural resources to meet needs with rewarding benefits. Economic prosperity a la can be achieved when individuals who comprise of the society harness their individual skills and intellectual brain seed into profitable ventures. However, such an act can only be realizable within the jurisdiction of freedom and the promise of incentive, knowing too well that man is a psychological being and his actions are mostly fuelled either by the avoidance of pain or the promise of pleasure.

Free market system puts productivity ahead of hard work. Productivity is boosted in the sense that taxes are kept low, therefore producers can produce more since they can keep more of what they earn. It is a result oriented system that ensures the satisfaction of consumer wants, and when consumer satisfaction becomes a culture, sure, demand will increase which will equally push up prices, increasing profits to producers and investors. Increased profits will attract more investors and eventually push up wages to attract more workers, thereby reducing unemployment. It should be noted that as supply of a particular product gradually increases, consumers are definitely going to experience a fall in price. Therefore, free market creates an atmosphere where consumers needs are satisfied, it creates more employment and rewards workers with apt incentives. This explains why workers in third world countries labour for long hours with little or nothing to show for it.

Free enterprise promotes civility. Commerce makes it possible to do business or service with another without bearing him real kindness.Traders require the trust and confidence of those with whom theytrade, and so contribute with a climate in which promises are kept. Though altruism might be very appropriate in other areas of life like family, we just know that it won’t take us any far in business.

Free enterprise has a brilliant way of reducing cost of living and yet increase the standard of living. As I write, I can’t think of any other apt scenario to verify my claims apart from the great revolution that took over the Nigerian telecommunication sector. Before 2001, NITEL, one of the proofs that shows that the Nigerian government has nothing to offer, succeeded in providing only 400,000 lines for a population of over 150 million. So inequality might reign among the haves and have-nots. At the onset, when GSM was introduced into Nigeria, as usual only the rich could afford it. The poor might have to use-up an entire savings to purchase one. During this period, since the nation was still bound with the psychological chain and fetters of a comatose telecom system, we all felt it was ok to be charged $0.65 for sixty plus one seconds call. Customers paid per minute, and in cases when you don’t use up a minute, mathematically you dash away money for service that you were not rendered. In fact, MTN at that time had said that per second billing was absolutely impossible. It only took the advent of Globacom to realize that that wasn’t just a lousy joke; it was also a market lie! Today, the onetime luxury of the wealthy, only accessible to the rich few has become the necessities of the many. Now that all telecom providers have to strive amidst healthy competition, prices of both GSM lines and call rates have drastically fallen. Lines that were sold for N20,000 in 2001 are now been sold for a giveaway prize of N100 with many value added benefits. Sure you’d agree that a whopping 19,900% decrease in prize in every sense signifies a reduction in cost of living.

It’s a common place mistake to think that freedom in its real sense is the absolute absence of restraint. No! Permit me to jog your memory to the theory of civil society which spells it out that freedom is a system whereby just restraint is applied to men. Restraint is vital because power is open to abuse by those who exercise them. This is where the rule of law now comes to play, because rules must be rules else, men will become savages and undomesticated. Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist Papers in 1787, “Men love power …Give all power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all power to the few, they will oppress the many.”At the risk of adding yet another quote to this paragraph, may I quickly bring to mind the words of the British historian, Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell in 1887? “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are always bad men” were his own insight.

Private owners must be able to decide how well they use their property, yet they must be held accountable for their actions.

Critics and challengers of economic liberty are fond of the opinion that freedom does inevitably lead to a degree of inequality in people’s wealth and income. I concur. Yet, I must point out that they most times forget that attempts to use government to determine people’s income creates an haphazard society where access to political office determines wealth, like it is the case of Nigeria and many African nations. At the point of choosing a lesser devil, it must be noted that this form of inequality is more detrimental to the poor than the inequality of wealth created by free enterprise. Free enterprise rewards people with high incomes only as long as they serve the customer better than others do. So?!

Others are so very quick to blame recession on economic liberty during times of economic expansion while they neglect the fact that economic recessions are triggered by inflation as a result of government expanding the supply of money and credit recklessly at a velocity faster than the growth of the economy itself. Inflation is birthed by increasing the supply of money relative to the supply of goods and services. This has always been a way of whittling away the value of money. This in-turn takes the rate of unemployment northward, which lend credence to Newton’s law which says that “for every action (including economic, emphasis mine), there is an equal and opposite reaction” the way out isn’t to murder free enterprise, but to simply take the supply of money out of government. Sometimes, unemployment is caused by regulations and unbearable taxes, which causes a misalliance between supply of labour and consumer need. In a free enterprise economy there is always availability of work .Come to think of it, can the demands of consumers be exhausted?

If Nigeria and other African nations must be healed of poverty majorly caused by corruption and gross irresponsibility of political leaders, a free market system is the right medication. The idea of partial- deregulation is just like strengthening the cause of a disease and passionately attacking the symptoms. It’s a colossal waste of time!

No one tends to take care of what belongs to no one or everyone like what belongs to him.

‘Lanre Olagunju is presently a student of journalism with the American College of Journalism; he’s also a prize winner with AfricanLiberty.org.

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Omojuwa

In the beginning...Let there be Light http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japheth_J._Omojuwa

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