Free enterprise has been the foundation of America's economy and society for more than 200 years. It's been the platform for unprecedented prosperity, opportunity and advancement for generations. It's the reason our nation remains a beacon of hope for people around the world who wish for a better life.
That doesn't mean our economic picture is always perfect. We're struggling with economic uncertainty that results in a lackluster recovery, a tepid labor market and stagnant incomes. Allowing economic freedom to prevail over government intervention is the best way to turn things around.
Economic freedom leads to personal freedom. When individuals are empowered, they have the opportunity to earn success based on their hard work and potential.
That's why free enterprise fosters self-reliance, motivation, dignity and happiness. It inspires people to tap their potential to do more, be more, and provide for themselves and their families.
Economic freedom spreads prosperity. When employers and entrepreneurs are successful, they indirectly share that wealth by expanding opportunities and creating jobs for others. Businesses give billions to charity every year, offer retirement benefits and health-care coverage, provide critical aid when disasters strike and generate the economic growth needed to help support government.
Economic freedom spurs healthy competition, which means that customers have access to the best products for the lowest prices. Businesses wanting to remain successful always strive to do better. They constantly innovate and improve our lives through technological advancements or cost savings.
Economic freedom is also a stabilizing force around the world. Individuals who have a say over their personal lives and businesses want strong voices in government.
Despite the economic, moral and global benefits of free enterprise, some Americans believe that government should have a more powerful role in our economy, our society and our lives.
When our leaders attempt to reach deeper into the affairs of businesses and individuals - through overregulation and higher taxes - they breed uncertainty and stifle growth.
When they seek greater control over key sectors of our economy they expand bureaucracy, reduce efficiency and raise costs.
When they think that more government spending is the answer to our economic challenges, they only deepen our debt and deficits and put off the task of addressing the fiscal crisis.
When they try to engineer fairness or artificially spread wealth, they take away the fundamental American ideals of equality of opportunity and reward based on merit and hard work. These actions pose a threat to free enterprise and a strong economy.
Free enterprise isn't perfect, but it's the best system ever devised. When citizens and businesses are free to work hard and succeed, they contribute to a strong and dynamic economy. And that's good for everyone.
Yes: Best way to generate growth
Every Monday we offer pro/con pieces from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service to give readers a broad view of issues.
Steve Van Andel is co-CEO of Amway and chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.