A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Rob and Lauren Hudson: Letter of Common Ground about free enterprise and work ethic

Letters for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa

We write to make a case for promoting freedom and capitalism because they have helped instill a productive work ethic in hundreds of millions of Americans.

We want a system that features a productive work ethic because it takes extraordinary effort to build a strong economy and resources to help all Americans.

A strong work ethic where everyone does their part can bind a society together. This makes work ethic one of the most critical parts of American life featured in this series of letters. Most Americans able to work want to earn more money and provide for their families, which helps us become a productive society.

Work, often spurred on by the capitalist system, goes hand in hand with a focused, productive approach to life. It’s about finding a path to do better. Remember how you felt on your first job, with a job well done, or with strong academic performance. Probably great. Most people know we are at our best when setting goals and striving to achieve them, bettering ourselves along the way.

Capitalism encourages us, whether we like it or not, to reach our potential. As we seek education to improve our chances of success, we learn things and get smarter. We work smart to find a way to earn more, then we learn more new things. Our common ground should include recognizing that free enterprise encourages forward progress in life through work.

With work, a surprising thing usually happens along the way. We can become happier, better communicators, better parents, and better friends. We make progress and grow in life, developing the confidence and skills to help others. We can’t hit our stride in life by letting others do the work for us.

The free market idea of “supply and demand” promotes work, encourages hope, and furthers education. We strive to develop those lower supply, high demand skills. As our free market system rewards productive work, it leads more and more of us to adopt a favorable work ethic.

In America, we get to keep most of what we earn and productively create, which encourages us to work more. We can become better and stronger along the way. This ability to work and keep most of what we earn helped us create the world’s largest economy.

Free enterprise has its detractors. It’s fast-paced, and it can be stressful. Most people experience a few setbacks, whether on the job or in running a business. But everyone should agree that our system provides a way to reward work. As Microsoft founder Bill Gates said, “Capitalism has worked very well. Anyone who wants to move to North Korea is welcome to do so.”

America’s strong work ethic has spanned generations. We couldn’t have grown into an industrial and military superpower without it. Way back in the early 1900’s President Theodore Roosevelt described it well, “I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.”

In America, people knew they would be responsible for supporting their families. They worked to do just that. President Ronald Reagan warned that our country could become weaker if our government were to someday take over more of our personal responsibilities. He said, “Nations crumble from within when the citizenry asks of government those things which the citizenry might better provide for itself.”

Our common ground should include a clear understanding that our work ethic culture will be a predictor of success, both for ourselves personally and for America. As additional common ground, we should pay close attention to any government proposal which removes incentives to work and improve. People deserve the opportunity to earn the kind of success which free enterprise can help deliver – self-worth, confidence, and happiness.

Frost Brown Todd LLC Member Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber and a business lawyer. 2018 Independent Author of the Year Lauren Hudson is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky. Their next letter will explore common ground about freedom, courage, and competition.

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