Economic Freedom And The Right To Rise

I can’t believe that I am on Christmas break and thinking about next semester. I am very excited about new possibilities on the horizon. I want to take a few moments to reflect on those possibilities by framing them within the idea of Economic Freedom and the Right to Rise.

I don’t know how many times in the last few months that I have heard and used the term Entrepreneur. The President and other political leaders have recognized the importance of providing a political system that supports entrepreneurs, allowing them to be successful. Colleges and Universities across this great nation have also recognized this, and are providing various classes to help prepare these future entrepreneurs. Both venues are attempting to connect money and talent (angel investors and entrepreneurs) with the customer. Start-Up America has discovered that disconnection is the biggest deterrent to successfully promoting entrepreneurial success. As Broughton stated in his WSJ article, “Startups are exciting and important area of economic activity, but their boosters often generate more heat than light. What America’s entrepreneurs don’t need is more people flapping their arms and shouting at them from the sidelines. It turns out what they need more than anything is each other.” This connectedness is what we want to promote with our new Social Entrepreneurship Major at WPC.

Entrepreneurship represents a Right to Rise.  Having watched the movie Lincoln recently, I have started thinking about my favorite President again. I ran across a great article discussing his reasons for abolishing slavery. It is a part of our history books that Lincoln encouraged a black exodus, leaving America to the whites. This paradox was discussed by Fredrick Douglas, first by his being appalled by Lincoln’s proposal, and secondly, by his noting that Lincoln was admirably unprejudiced at a personal level. “He treated me as a man; he did not let me feel for a moment that there was any difference in the color of our skins.” David Von Drehle describes Lincoln’s motivation for destroying slavery as not being centered in racial equality, or on abstract ideals of human dignity, but in the belief that liberty of all kinds “begins with economic freedom.” This is a debatable premise, one that I am not sure I agree with, but it warrants a discussion.

The discussion is around what Lincoln meant by economic freedom. “Gabor Boritt, emeritus professor of history at Gettysburg College and a leading authority on the 16th President, has called this cornerstone of Lincoln’s philosophy, the right to rise.” In other words, people have the right to work and be prosperous. Slavery did not allow a person to chose what they do for work, and it destroyed the ability to work hard leading to success. Although I am not committed to a premise that Lincoln was not concerned with race equality, I am convinced he was committed to “the Right to Rise.”

An entrepreneur, someone what is able to see the inefficiencies of a current process and change (or make new) it to perform at a higher level, is a critical part of the modern “Right to Rise.” Upward mobility has been a part of the American dream. This is what drives us to work hard and be successful. Therefore, we need to promote Economic Freedom. Michael Strong is his book, Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Change the World, argues that promoting Economic Freedom can be accomplished by:

  1. Providing access to capital and information.
  2. Providing political support with policies protecting essential human rights and secure property rights.
  3. Providing education, training and mentorships that foster creativity and innovation.

All of these will help to create an entrepreneurial culture, supporting the “Right to Rise.” I hope in this age of large trickledown government we don’t loose this “Right to Rise.

And that is my thought for the day!




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