People often speak of "free enterprise" as a system with which they contrast other systems such as "socialism" or "communism."
Free enterprise is not really a system at all. Unlike socialism or communism, no one ever sat down and thought it up and said: "Here is a way of running production and distribution."
In its main essentials free enterprise just grew. Nobody invented it. And it grew as it did out of experience and because it reflected deep-rooted human motives and objectives. In other words it has its roots in human nature. It is not a cut-and-dried way of doing things. It is changing all the time. But it does rest on two primary beliefs held by most people in the western world:
1) that people should be free to use their talents and their enterprise to improve the lot of themselves and their families.
2) that they are entitled to be rewarded in proportion to the value of the work they do and the enterprise they display.
When governments say things like:
"You must not produce that; you must produce this." "We will compel you to save more and to spend less." "We will tax and take away the great part of any extra earnings you may make as a result of your extra work, ability, or enterprise."
Then free enterprise is in danger.
From the August-September 1956 issue of Facts, a publication of the Institute of Public Affairs, Victoria, Australia, of which Mr. Kemp is Director.