The pandemic initiated a change in our community that has brought momentous and abrupt disruption to life as we know, or knew, it. I can remember the simple task of driving to one of my favorite restaurants, sitting down and enjoying a great meal. I fondly recall the waitstaff and their smiles while they served me multiple glasses of sweet tea… Oh! I think I was dreaming just now.
Good news for everyone reading this column – life will return to normal soon. But what does “normal” mean? This simple term once understood by all of us will be redefined in the near future. As the government mandates guidelines to safely open our communities, states and nation, there comes to mind the one variable that can’t, or won’t, be controlled by an edict – our citizens. Will we have the confidence to sit in a crowded restaurant or enjoy a theatre without the somber thought of illness lurking in our memory? I say YES!
One of the most important lessons to learn about capitalism is that this form of an economy works when transactions are being negotiated and labor performed. While businesses continue to define their approach to safely returning to their pre-pandemic routines and functions, a product must be created and sold to a buyer that is willing to part with an asset, their hard-earned cash.
I predict, with great confidence, that our country will return to its former greatness as the world’s best economy. The question as to how long this process will take is the difficult one. To make progress in opening our economy you should remember the traits of our grand tradition. Think about the five characteristics of capitalism: 1) economic freedom; 2) voluntary exchange; 3) private property rights; 4) profit motive and 5) competition.
Economic freedom is the primary driver of entrepreneurism. We have choices in how we wish to live our lives. “The harder I work, the luckier I get” is often quoted as the basis for the American Dream. Each of us can control our destiny but it takes hard work, dedication and a willingness to accept risk. Currently, our economy is suffering due to a lack of activity caused by an invisible creation of risk. However, we will return to a vibrant economy because of the love of freedom by men like Alexander Graham Bell who desired to speak with others across miles of terrain, Thomas Edison whose inquisitive mind desiderated to light the world with the flip of a switch and Benjamin Franklin who curiously sought to understand electricity and its effects on tangible objects. These men were considered pioneers of their day. Laughed at and mocked by the citizenry because of their unique and unorthodox attempts to conquer unknown areas of life only to see themselves ordained as great men of invention when the world gasped at the benefits afforded our civilization by their creations.
The characteristic of our capitalistic economy that has been the basis for commerce, since the days of pharaoh, is profit motive. In marketplaces across the globe, people gathered to exchange goods and services for the sole purpose of creating income and lifestyle for themselves. In the modern era we continue to seek a profit on the goods we create and sell while retaining the control of our own destinies. It is important to note that our economy is based on this premise and this one characteristic will be the hinge in which our country swings forward from this pandemic.
To truly bring our economy back to the state we appreciated before COVID-19, we must embrace competition. In our state, our primary source of revenues was gross production taxes from oil and gas drilling activities. We are a resilient people that have experienced this type of contraction in our state economy many times before. To revitalize our economy, we must initiate action and take ourselves to the marketplace. I am not telling you to spend your money, I am asking you to invest in the future of our state. Not only do we require investment from private individuals to resuscitate our economy, we must establish an efficient transaction base for the free exchange of ideas and goods. Today is the day to bring a concerted effort of our citizens to the capitalistic economy. To do so in a safe, yet productive, manner would be a catalyst to bringing back the days we so flippantly took for granted prior to the pandemic. Just look overhead, the sun is rising on a new day in the land of paradise that I affectionately refer to as the “Greatest State in the Union”, my home, Oklahoma!