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Rob and Lauren Hudson: Letter of Common Ground about free enterprise, honesty, and integrity

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

This letter addresses common ground all of us want in America. We want an economic system that rewards and encourages people who have a moral compass. We write to make a case that America’s already has that system. It’s free enterprise.

Our system works because of voluntary interactions between people each day across the country. Some interactions last longer, like employment relationships, while others take just a few minutes, like buying a product at a store. If it’s in commerce, honesty and integrity usually become a part of the interaction.

Every deal, of course, involves a buyer and a seller. A business looks to sell its products or services to as many good buyers who will pay as possible. Buyers must have some confidence in the seller’s honesty and integrity, at least with respect to the value of the seller’s product or service. Otherwise, a voluntary deal in our system will not take place.

A seller who wants to stay in business has a powerful incentive to inspire confidence based on something real, through honesty and integrity. A business may have slick marketing to get a customer’s attention, but a seller cannot build a loyal customer base without delivering on promises. This places honesty and integrity heavily into the mix of factors considered with most goods or service transactions.

The same logic applies to our jobs. Employment probably presents the most important economic relationships in free enterprise. We don’t want to work for a tricky business with no integrity.

Business won’t want to work with us if we’re dishonest and have little to no integrity. On the other hand, honesty and integrity on both sides can make for a long-lasting, stable relationship that helps both parties.

We know the success of interactions in life depends on how we treat one another. Our business and work relationships are no different. They succeed with honesty, trust, and respect for others. With liberty, in free enterprise, a team of hard-working, ethical people who respect one another can accomplish almost anything.

On the other hand, failed relationships cost businesses and property their money, and they lead to lost opportunities. Although businesses without ethics can harm people, in America we have laws that prohibit greedy, immoral businesspeople from defrauding or thieving customers. Justice, alongside the rule of law, can stop and punish business threats to our property and personal safety rights.

At first, free enterprise might seem all about just making money or selling things. In reality, capitalism has everything to do with inspiring confidence because of outstanding performance. Outstanding performance usually comes at least partly from exceptional character. American author Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well, praising free enterprise as a system which depends on pleasing others and doing the right thing, “Doing well is the result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about.”

Think of free enterprise’s “carrot and stick” as good boundaries to promote honesty and integrity. Predictors of success in free enterprise include honesty and integrity, which can lead to more honesty and integrity. Our common ground should include these points of common sense.

Frost Brown Todd LLC Member and business lawyer Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber. 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, community and charity.

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