A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Rob and Lauren Hudson: Letter of Common Ground about free enterprise, community and charity


Letters for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa

We write to make a case for free enterprise because it has promoted America’s commitment to community and charity. We want a system that emphasizes community and charity because these features of American society involve coming together, voluntarily, to help one another.

We want a system that elevates beneficial, personal action, not mere compassion and caring. As much as we wish it could, feelings don’t materially help a charity or a community. Caring matters when it’s accompanied by deeds. As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.”

America’s emphasis on charity comes naturally from how the Founders set up our system of freedom and government. Generally, people would be responsible for providing for their own daily needs. Our governments did not, at that time, require some Americans to pay taxes to fund someone else’s life. Whether you agree or disagree with that approach to government, the fact remains that people, both then and now, need help.

Charities, churches, neighbors, and community stepped up to provide that help by allowing people to voluntarily connect with one another. Today, people from all walks of life and businesses continue to step up and help, making America among the world’s most generous nations. As President Ronald Reagan said, “The work of volunteer groups…have helped make this the most compassionate, generous, and humane society that ever existed on the face of this earth.”

Donations for charity and funding for community projects must come from somewhere. In America, they come from the prosperity of free enterprise. Whether we donate time or treasure, our actions in helping matter in big and small ways, for ourselves and for others.

Charity and community can provide balance in our lives. While free enterprise involves a form of service as we assist customers, charity and community connect us with other people in an even more straightforward, unique way. Through charity and community involvement, we freely give part of ourselves to help others, often expecting nothing in return.

As we connect with others, we discover new ways we’re needed and new ways to love, with compassion and empathy. The recipients of our charity receive a loving gift for which they are typically thankful. Meanwhile, by giving, we demonstrate gratitude for our blessings. Our common ground should include understanding that volunteering and donating elevate our spirit.

As capitalism helps charity and community, charity and community also help capitalism. Smart businesspeople understand that every person is capable of greatness. Everyone needs a helping hand, and if we don’t reach out, that person might not realize his potential. Our common ground should include rooting for and helping a person who is trying to make a comeback.

Free enterprise doesn’t mean ignoring people who struggle. Businesspeople give money to charities and donate their time. Through the jobs they offer and the charities they support, businesses become integral parts of their communities. They usually want to be in happy, healthy communities where people help one another. When we work together like this, everybody wins.

Many businesspeople believe in pitching in and tackling problems together. Businesspeople with positive attitudes mostly see solutions, not problems. They think, through community involvement, and otherwise, they can accomplish anything to which they set their minds. Charity, good deeds, great communities, and business can go together and occupy common ground. In America, they usually do.

Through business, charity, and community, we can all be in it together. Far too often, we isolate ourselves, spending time focused on our cell phones, listening to music with headphones, or watching yet another Netflix original. Nothing is stopping us from upping our game by spending some of that time or money to help others. That’s common ground of free enterprise, charity and community we can all get behind.

Frost Brown Todd LLC Member Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber and a business lawyer. 2018 Independent Author of the Year Lauren Hudson is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky. Their next letter will explore common ground about freedom and work ethic.


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