A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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

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

We write to address the disconnect between societal benefits of free enterprise and how a sizeable portion of young Americans appear to negatively view our economic system. Meanwhile, these same young Americans witnessed and participated in a technological revolution delivered to us by free enterprise. Many of our system’s benefits should be obvious.

We can better connect and communicate with one another. We have access to better entertainment choices. Many of our geographic barriers (such as the inability to conduct business over distances) have been removed. New technology, all of which we invented, developed and/or improved in free enterprise, truly changed our world.

America’s youth utilizes this technology daily. Despite this visible, high profile benefit of free markets and competition, storm clouds have formed on the horizon for American capitalism. A recent Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation study revealed the disconnect. 52% of millennials stated a preference to live in a socialist or communist country rather than a capitalist one.

Identifying with socialism, at the very least, could be a fad for young people. To avoid a real trend or shift in thinking, education is the key. People should consider several basic economic ideas that can serve as common ground.

More young people should understand that capitalism consists of ongoing “experiments” in business and life. Some of these experiments fail miserably. Others yield inventions that provide real jobs and change lives.

More young people should understand why new things come out all the time in capitalism, from the latest video game, the newest movie, or the latest fashion. We have a better chance of finding a job and climbing the career ladder with thousands of businesses competing in capitalism.

More young people should understand that failure, for some people, is likely to occur in any system. A legitimate economic system will maximize opportunities for success as a means of minimizing poverty and chronic failure.

More young people should understand how the government and non-profits secure their resources. Money for government and non-profits comes from capitalism. Businesses pay taxes to pay for government, which means these tax dollars come from capitalism. Employees of businesses pay taxes, which also comes from capitalism. People pay taxes based on the property they own or the things they buy, which come from capitalism.

More young people should understand what will happen to the country if we adopt a system which does not encourage people to work. Following the Great Recession in 2008, our country experienced many years of high unemployment. America experienced its lowest percentage of people working in more than thirty-five years.

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 outcomes in capitalism and socialism.

By 2014, nearly half of Americans received a federal government benefit or payment, with more than 40 percent of our households paying no federal income taxes. Most households received more from the federal government than they paid in federal income taxes. If our system doesn’t encourage and deliver work, at some point, the lower numbers of working people won’t be able to support everybody.

More young people should acknowledge America does not have unbridled capitalism. Capitalism exists within a framework of laws that typically protect people against force, fraud, theft, and violations of contracts. We have legislated protections for consumers. People do make poor decisions to buy silly products in capitalism, but we do get to exercise our own free will.

Capitalism is tailor-made for the energy and dreams of youth, looking to the future. By focusing on making America the best place in the world for capitalism, businesses, and jobs, lives can be changed for the better. Our common ground should include a commitment to removing the disconnect between young people and free enterprise.

We should acknowledge that, with proper education, people will understand how to help others and help themselves within free enterprise. It is a system into which we can productively channel our energy, ideas, kindnesses, work, friendships, products, services and much, much more.

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