“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17
Mises Institute describes itself as an organization promoting Austrian economics, freedom and peace.
The Mises Daily is a publication which presents relevant short articles from the perspective of an unfettered free market and Austrian economics. Written for a broad audience of laymen and students, the Mises Daily features a wide variety of topics including everything from the history of the state, to international trade, to drug prohibition and business cycles.
On March 25, 2011, The Mises Daily published an excerpt from chapter 16 of the book Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Revolution (1957) by Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973).
The first paragraphs of the excerpt follow:
“A civilization is the product of a definite worldview, and its philosophy manifests itself in each of its accomplishments. The artifacts produced by men may be called material. But the methods resorted to in the arrangement of production activities are mental, the outcome of ideas that determine what should be done and how. All the branches of a civilization are animated by the spirit that permeates its ideology.
“The philosophy that is the characteristic mark of the West and whose consistent elaboration has in the last centuries transformed all social institutions has been called individualism. It maintains that ideas, the good ones as well as the bad, originate in the mind of an individual man. Only a few men are endowed with the capacity to conceive new ideas.
“But as political ideas can work only if they are accepted by society, it rests with the crowd of those who themselves are unable to develop new ways of thinking to approve or disapprove the innovations of the pioneers. There is no guarantee that these masses of followers and routinists will make wise use of the power vested in them. They may reject the good ideas, those whose adoption would benefit them, and espouse bad ideas that will seriously hurt them.
“But if they choose what is worse, the fault is not theirs alone. It is no less the fault of the pioneers of the good causes in not having succeeded in bringing forward their thoughts in a more convincing form. The favorable evolution of human affairs depends ultimately on the ability of the human race to beget not only authors but also heralds and disseminators of beneficial ideas.”
The final paragraph from the excerpt states:
“The essence of an individual’s freedom is the opportunity to deviate from traditional ways of thinking and of doing things. Planning by an established authority precludes planning on the part of individuals.”
The sequence invention, innovation, entrepreneurship and shepherding, which is the construct of new business activity, is the space within which I operate on a daily basis. It is extremely stimulating and fulfilling as one interacts with the young and the not-so-young (age is just a number) as they try to make a difference. If we are to reverse the trends of economic decline in the small states of the Caribbean, the established authorities must recognize the innovative spirit among entrepreneurs and provide a supporting environment for them to thrive and contribute to economic growth.
Sustainable economic growth of small states, in particular, means access to larger and larger markets. Domestic markets are restricted by the size of the local populations and hence we must export our goods and services. We must deviate from traditional ways of thinking and of doing things. Innovation feeds economic growth and engenders economic freedom.
The mandate of government is to provide regulatory and service functions. It is generally accepted that the collection of taxes is essential for the provision of government services. Would it not be nice if individuals had a reduced tax burden? This could happen with the increasing wealth of a country. Trinidad and Tobago is basically wealthier than Barbados, for example, because of the oil and gas resources that have been exploited. The individual tax burden in Trinidad is less than Barbados in relation to the services that are provided.
Innovation and the provision of an enabling environment are the keys to unlock the door to greater economic freedom in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and beyond. Our leaders need to take this to heart when grappling with increasing taxation revenue. We cannot get blood out of stone. Increase the size of the economic cake!
Last Saturday, the Barbados Society of Technologists in Agriculture held its annual Technical Conference 2015 on the theme: “Going Forward In Agriculture – Innovative ‘Out of the box’ Solutions”. There were presentations on sweet potato processing, towards a marketable size sweet potato, cassava for bread making, super-elongation cassava disease, sorghum for animal feed, Vinasse (a by-product of the sugar industry) as a fertilizer and soil conditioner, branded sugars and other innovative solutions. I was privileged to present the Caribbean Food Business Innovation Revolution initiative promoted by the Global Business Innovation Corporation (GBIC).
The GBIC launch took place in Trinidad last month and follow-up action is currently taking place with exporTT, the leading facilitator of exports from Trinidad and Tobago. GBIC plans to launch its services, to inspire the world leveraging food as a business example, in Barbados and other Caribbean countries in due course.
Let us claim the freedom to choose and set about diversifying Caribbean economies through innovation in the agricultural value-added sector.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)