Free enterprise comes with hidden costs

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The first two questions that we must ask about an economic enterprise are "Is it profitable?" and "Is the risk worth the reward?" While it is commonplace thinking that the "profit" is inured to the person or organization putting up capital, it is less common for us to think about the "loss" being shouldered by the same.

Furthermore, "capital" has been limited to money, with little regard to the natural capital upon which money capitalism is built.

If a farmer fails to steward the land, which he did not make, such that it bears no crops for his children or grandchildren, or the grandchildren of others, he has made himself profit, but his community, and indeed the Creation, has taken the loss. Likewise, if a corporation extracts minerals, employs laborers, and deploys equipment in such a way that the labor is exploited, the soil, air and water fouled, and the landscape made into a squalid eyesore, we must ask, who profits and who loses?

This begs a third question, "Who does the accounting in the grand 'free enterprise' scheme?" Enterprise, whether it be farming, fracking or a factory, comes with a cost that we are often too short-sighted to measure. As humans, our hubris is great, our wisdom is narrow and our thinking colored by ideology and greed.

It seems to me that for the "market" to work, those who are consuming and regulating the thing made and service sold need to know the price to the world, the community and our descendants in order to make thoughtful and responsible decisions. To do otherwise will result in our childrens' childrens' children thinking us to be not only spendthrifts, but fools.

Rick Hawksley, Kent

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