truckload of fruit from South Africa to Zimbabwe, itcosts you more in time, bribes, fees to thegovernment, and taxes than it would cost to send thesame truckload of fruit from South Africa all the wayto the United States.What makes it possible for us to buy equipment andgoods from the other side of the world?Entrepreneurs face ancient traditions, politicalobstacles, taxes, and regulations. If they are lucky,entrepreneurs succeed. If not, they learn somethingnew, make it even better the next time and bring tothe community something new that changes livesforever.That is the heroic epic. The entrepreneur,exemplified by Malcolm McLean, is the hero of ourworld. But, as you all know, that is not really whatpopular culture thinks of capitalists andentrepreneurs today. If you go to an averageHollywood movie, the hero is someone quitedifferent; the scientist and the capitalist are theenemies. That is a bit ironic, because we would nothave film technology if there were no scientists, andwe would not have a film industry if it were not for thecapitalists. But they are presented as villains.Some anti-globalizers and people opposed to freetrade are now well-paid consultants who sit on theboards of big companies and tell them that what theydo is really a bad thing and that they must acceptmuch more corporate social responsibility. In theirterms, corporate social responsibility means thatwhat you have done so far is not social. It is notenough to create goods, services and technologiesthat increase our life expectations and save the livesof our children. No, you need to do something more.After making your profit, you need to give somethingback to society. Give something back to society? As if the entrepreneurs and capitalists had stolensomething, that belonged to society that they have togive back.Profit is not something that we have to apologize for.Profit is proof that the capitalist has given somethingto society that it cherishes more than the materialwealth it has given to the businessman.I must emphasize that entrepreneurs should neverbe grateful for a society that gives them license toact, to dream, to innovate and to create. I think thatwe, society, should be grateful to the entrepreneurand to the businessman for what they do.Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our world - despitethe risks, the hard work, the hostility from society,the envy from neighbours, the state regulations,entrepreneurs keep on creating, they keep onproducing and trading. Without them nothing wouldbe there.Author:
Johan Norberg is a Swedish writer and aSenior Fellow of Washington's Cato Institute,publisher of this abbreviated address.
faster than the richest countries on the planet. It tookus in Sweden something like 40 years to double ouraverage income. It takes 10 to 15 years today forChina, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam to do thesame thing. They can now use the ideas andtechnologies that it took Europe and Americagenerations to develop. That is why poverty in theworld has been cut in half in the last 20 years.All of this is dependent on innovators andentrepreneurs. The entrepreneur is an explorer whotravels into uncharted territory and opens up newroutes along which we will all be traveling prettysoon.Nothing has existed “from the beginning”. Not evennatural resources are natural in any meaningfulsense - something that a lot of governments realizedwhen they nationalized oil and gas resources andother things. They failed to understand that we alsoneed the entrepreneurial spirit - the ability to seehow to use a resource and how to invest in it in apositive way to make sure that it is used efficiently.The OPEC countries grew by about 4 percent everyyear because of their oil resources until 1973, whenmost of them had nationalized their oil industries.Since then they have grown poorer by about 1percent every year.Fifty years ago a North Carolina truck driver, MalcolmMcLean, thought that there must be a more efficientway of transporting goods and components all overthe world. Back then, people would take their trucksdown to the port. The boat would sit there for a weekor so while the unionized work force slowly andsteadily loaded every single piece of cargo on theboat. The reverse would happen in the port of destination.McLean thought, “What if I use wheel-less boxes and just put all the goods in the boxes and hoist themonto trucks, drive down to the port, and then just putthe unopened boxes on the ship?” In one night,McLean created modern container traffic. He reducedthe cost of sending goods and components across theoceans by something like 97 percent. It is possible forus to have a particular kind of computer, withcomponents from all major continents on the planet,the clothes we wear and the food on our platesbecause of one man and his dream, and a culture thatdid not try to stop him but instead encouraged hisvision. And developing countries all around the worldsuddenly have use for their talent and their hardwork - to produce what they can produce best, put itinto containers and send it somewhere else.But technology is not enough. We also need freedomto use new technology. Unless governments step outof the way and allow entrepreneurs to do their thing,none of this will happen. We know that, becausethere are places where modern technologies are notused because of regulations, corruption, andgovernment intervention. If you are sending one