The old Soviet Union frowned on business activity which resulted in driving most of it underground. Which in turn gave money to tax avoiders and criminal gangs rather than benefit wider Soviet society.
China on the other hand has embraced business and recognised that without it progress is stunted and the population becomes disillusioned.
During 2008 when the capitalist world was in disarray people would often say to me things like “Its finished, America will never recover, the free enterprise system is dead”. I said then,as I say now, that America will always recover as long as it is a democratic country which puts free enterprise at the top of its agenda and couples that ethos with care for its citizens and those of the world.
Of course the free enterprise system isn’t perfect, but then nor are any others. I spent time in both East Germany and Russia during the cold war period and believe me it wasn’t nice. I prefer to live in a society that allows people from poor backgrounds like me to achieve something in life and look after their own families in the process.
Without growth and dynamism there is no money to spend on the public services we all rely on like the NHS, responsible policing, good education and care for the elderly. That to repeat myself is why Business Matters.
Business is not at war with the public sector, we need each to embrace the other for society to reach its potential.
I would love to see a doubling of money spent on education, health, and all other public services, but first that money has to be earned. Governments exist on money paid in taxes by its citizens, how else are roads to be repaired, hospitals improved or extended education periods paid for.
Any business which is responsible and cares about its employees as well as its shareholders is a social enterprise by default. Of course we must look after shareholders, how else will public companies persuade people to provide the capital needed to firstly create and then sustain the business. Risk capital requires reward or it will simply find another home. In the old Soviet Union that used to often be under the bed where it did no one any good.
I believe in the free enterprise system totally but also believe it is sometimes its own worst enemy, especially in the realm of public relations. SMEs and micro business is vital for every country because it employs a huge number of people and creates so much wealth. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes, colours and from just about every religion. Many are family people who employ siblings, sons, daughters, wives and husbands. This is the very essence of our multicultural society and why I say that every well run business is in fact a social enterprise. It employs people, produces taxes in the form of both income and VAT and generally serves its local and wider communities.
What would we do without the brilliant Asian stores that sell all manor of spices and other exotic foods. How about the Chinese supermarkets that provide cooks all over the country with special vegetables and fruit, spice and sauces? Never mind the traditional fish and chip shops that serve hungry customers on a Friday evening or Saturday lunchtime.
How about the small manufacturers who make things in places like Wolverhampton, Manchester, Plymouth and Reading and who sell engineering products all over the world and assisting our balance of payments situation.
As I say this system we have of free enterprise is brilliant when properly and thoughtfully embraced and for me at least remains far better than any other system past or present.