Free Markets, Technology

Jim Gray: Would You Change Places with Henry VIII?

Let me ask you a question: if you could, would you change places with England’s Henry VIII?  He was obviously the top dog while he was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547.  But he lived with an ulcerated wound and pus-filled boils on his legs and probably with undiagnosed gout.  And he probably died of the easily curable disease of scurvy, which is caused by not eating enough fruits and vegetables.  Plus, he lived in a drafty palace, and even in traveling 20 miles he was subjected to the ordeal of being bounced around in his horse-drawn carriage.  So, when you think about it, probably everyone reading these words has a better life than did Henry VIII.  (And, besides, who wants to have six wives . . . .)  How has it been possible for us to have such comparatively better lives?  The answer is technology, as spurred on by the Free Enterprise System.  In fact, over the last ten years more people have been raised out of poverty due to this system than ever before in the history of mankind.  So when people have Liberty that allows them to profit from their own labors and creativity, under an approach utilizing the wisdom of having economic decisions made by the pricing system instead of by government bureaucrats, they and the rest of the world prosper.  Yes, there still are problems under this approach, but the problems are controllable.

Unfortunately, many of our students are being taught today that the free enterprise system is our enemy. But that is simply not true.  So when that issue raises its head, provide the following example: when the Pilgrims on the Mayflower first landed at Plymouth they employed an approach of socialism, which basically provided “from everyone according to their abilities, to everyone according to their needs.”  The result?  Half of them starved to death in the first year.  But then when they shifted to a program of free enterprise, they thrived.  And that result has been true throughout our history.  Ask East Germany, North Korea, the Soviet Union, Cuba and China under Mao.  So don’t be bashful protecting our Liberty under the Free Enterprise System, because it increases our enjoyment, as well as our life expectancy.

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