I Love Capitalism

gatlinburgI don’t want to go off on a political rant but I love capitalism. With the debate about government take-overs of this and that and whether we’re rushing headlong into a socialist state, I can’t help but worry that capitalism is in danger.

My wife and I just came back from a short vacation.  We attended a wedding in Atlanta and visited our son and daughter-in-law in Huntsville, AL.  In between, we spent a few days in the Great Smokey Mountains. If you want to see capitalism and entrepreneurship at their best I recommend a visit to the Smokeys, particularly to the town of Gatlinburg where small, local business reigns supreme.

There are some national chains in this small Tennessee town but the majority of businesses are of the locally-owned variety, including motels, restaurants, gift shops, mini golf, and other tourist-related businesses.  Just a few miles outside town is an arts and crafts community made up exclusively of independent business men and women who enjoy the life style of producing their own products and selling them directly to the consumer.

There is no question that this has been a tough summer for most businesses, particularly in the tourist related industries, but the independent business people in the Gatlinburg area seem to be holding their own and some are doing quite nicely.

The thing is that while I was supposed to be on vacation, I couldn’t help but look at so many small businesses and appreciate the value of capitalism.  It’s what’s made our country great.  People who are willing to invest their own time and money in a business, knowing that they might succeed or fail demonstrate the same  pioneer spirit that brought people to this country in the first place.  It’s what made them move away from the east coast and eventually go all the way to the Pacific ocean.  You and I can’t let that spirit be crushed by self-serving politicians or by the big box chains.

Not only do we have to support organizations like the 3/50 project , our local chambers of commerce, and other local business organizations, we have to get involved in other things as well.  When small-business-damaging laws are being considered at the national and local level, we have to speak out.

Being an entrepreneur is a noble profession.  Profit is not a four letter word. We should be proud of our role as the engine of commerce in this country.  We should offer our customers the best service we possibly can and not be afraid to ask them for a fair price.

In the next few days I’ll be introducing you to a couple of people I met on the trip whose stories I hope you find as interesting as I did.