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The Greatest Economic Sin: Destroying A Man’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Have you ever considered the spiritual side of these words?  As a Christian Libertarian, I see more than just a utilitarian proverb.  I see more than just a slogan for self-sufficiency.  At it’s deepest level, this adage intimates a human longing that transcends the mere vanquishing of physical hunger.  The longing of which I speak is the need for human beings to create and achieve.

Creativity and achievement, from an economic standpoint, is entrepreneurship.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow knew enough to place the qualities of creativity and achievement in the upper echelons of his Hierarchy of Needs.  It is my Christian belief that these longings are indeed intrinsic parts of our psyche.  Man has been created in the image of God.  God is Creator and we are made in His image.  Thus God’s creativity is a part of our nature.

Consequently, if our Creator placed these longings within our being, how much of an abomination is it to God when the destroyer comes and eviscerates them from our soul?

I do not believe enough is said or written about the destructive effects of killing a human being’s entrepreneurial spirit.  From an individual standpoint and from a social standpoint, we can see the devastating effects of this.

Individually, the person bereft of his entrepreneurial spirit is left to wander a wilderness of carnal distractions.  Since his creativity is crushed, he has no drive to leave more than he consumes.  He has no enthusiasm to leave donation, heritage, or legacy.  He becomes a mere consumer of what others have created and becomes ever addicted to personal carnal provision.  And He becomes more and more dependent upon those who “provide.”

Socially, a population that has had their entrepreneurial spirit crushed continually searches for the largest and easiest source of provision.  They will empower or elect anyone or any group that promises the most.  They themselves lose the ability to even comprehend creativity.  Eventually, they will even forfeit their freedom to the coterie that “guarantees” provision.

Unfortunately, there is no short supply of politicians who will “guarantee” to provide all.  Entire political parties have been formed to destroy entrepreneurial spirit.  They will say, “There is no way you can achieve or create because you are being thwarted by this other faction.”  They campaign, “If you will give us power, WE will be your source of opportunity … WE will be your provider … WE will be your god.”

Booker T. Washington wrote prophetically of this more than a hundred years ago, concerning his own ethnic people:
“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public.  Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays.  Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.  There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.”

This atrocity is not merely confined to African-Americans.  We have entire segments of our population, from all ethnicities, that have had their entrepreneurial spirit vanquished.  They are victims, not of denied opportunity, but of entrepreneurial evisceration.

It must be noted that the killing of the entrepreneurial spirit is not always done in malice or avarice.  Very kindhearted and benevolent people have been guilty of giving too much or making things too easy.  This is done sometimes with the best of intentions.  But if all one thinks about is giving away fish, one inconsequentially spawns dependency.

How can America, a country that has fallen so far from its origins of independence and entrepreneurship, turn this around?  What can we do?

The answer lies in Christian Capitalism:  Knowing the truth and goodness of entrepreneurship and hard work.  Believing in our hearts that our Creator placed within us the seeds of creativity.  Importantly, knowing that, in America, opportunity still abounds for those who strive for it … for everyone.  We MUST proclaim these truths to our fellow citizens in this Great American Experiment.

In practicality, encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in yourself, in your family, in your friends, and in your everyday contacts.  Teach your children vocational independence – that they do not necessarily have to take employment with government or even established corporations.  Start a small business association in your church.  Help start an Entrepreneurship Center in your city.  And vote for candidates who favor small government and less government intervention.

by Kenfen

One Comment

  1. Hedric Hanson wrote:

    A blessing to have found your wed site this Sunday morning!! I am trying to reconcile the economic history of the rapid growth of the per capita GNP since 1700′s in Holland, England & USA as driving force for everyone (rich and poor) in those countries (Eg. Deirdre McCloskey
    The second book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World was published in 2010 and a draft of the third volume, Bourgeois Towns: How Capitalism Became Ethical, 1600-1848, is available online in her website.) My take is that capitalism intrinsically helps the “poor” more than any charity of church or government. I do not want to diminish influence & need for ethics & morals of Christianity, but doesn’t capitalism by itself lift the poor from property by creating jobs and maximizing their God given
    desire to create & achieve? Any help or direction for my reading would be appreciated. I’m studying carefully your articles and website links. Thank you.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

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