Hackernoon logo"We Are Rich Because We Are Free." - How Society Creates Entrepreneurs by@brianwallace

"We Are Rich Because We Are Free." - How Society Creates Entrepreneurs

Brian Wallace Hacker Noon profile picture

@brianwallaceBrian Wallace

Founder @ NowSourcing. Contributor @ Hackernoon, Advisor @GoogleSmallBiz, Podcaster, infographics

“We are rich because we are free.”

That is the maxim of the modern entrepreneur. The career of running one’s own business is distinct from any other due to its increased risk and potential for outsized reward. Anyone chasing great personal wealth naturally looks to the founders of industry staples for guidance.

Why does innovation have such lucrative potential? Over the past few centuries, Western society underwent a shift from the aristocratic deal (“do what I say and I’ll let you work”) in favor of the bourgeois deal (“leave me alone and I’ll make you rich”). Communities stopped holding innovators suspect and started promoting their achievements. Working in one’s own interest transitioned from a sign of bad character to a standard expectation for anyone aiming for commercial success.

The result? Global poverty has declined a great deal over the past two centuries. 85% of the globe in the 1800's lived on less than $2 a day, but only 9% did in 2017. In America specifically, items considered luxuries a century ago (like automobiles and air conditioning) are easily accessible to the average household.

While factors such as modern science and strong work ethic are important, they don’t account for the “Great Enrichment” of the past century by themselves. Increases in income and reductions in poverty occur when people are encouraged to innovate. Innovators can only see the success they desire in an environment that lets them retain the profits of their blood, sweat, and tears. These policies don’t only benefit entrepreneurs, either: successful entrepreneurs explicitly seek to increase their own prosperity, yet they can often improve social welfare along the way. 

Today, anyone can be a merchant.

Women and people of color can find liberation in ways once restricted to their white male peers. They are able to embrace the maxim of an entrepreneurial culture.

This is possible because America seeks more than a free market. Recognizing each individual’s right to self-author requires our free society to extend liberty and dignity to everyone. Prosperity can’t reach everyone unless everyone is empowered to innovate should they choose.


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