I think I just met a future millionaire.
It started when I looked out my window and saw a kid hoofing it door to door in my cul-de-sac. I could tell he wasn’t having much luck. But he soldiered on down the street, sales fliers and order forms clutched in his hand. I figured he’d give up before he made it to my driveway, and I winced, remembering my ill-fated attempt at selling magazine subscriptions the same way.
Very soon my doorbell rang. There stood this kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old. I could barely say hello before he launched into his sales pitch for the best darn cookies and cakes I would ever eat in my entire lifetime. He had no way of knowing I was more delighted by his gumption than his goodies, that he was pitching his product to a woman whose professional life is built around spreading the wonders of free enterprise.
So I quizzed him. Why spend a beautiful Saturday doing this? Band club needs money, he said. What for, I asked? If we want to go places, we have to pay for it. Good answer, I thought. Somebody’s instilling him with the value of work versus entitlement. I used to the play the violin, I told him. What instrument do you play? Flute. Do you like it? Love it, he said with a big smile.
Could you say no to a natural-born entrepreneur unfazed by the rejection he’d endured on my street? I couldn’t, and sometime next month an overpriced chocolate cheesecake will arrive on my doorstep.
You see, the cost of the cake was immaterial to me. My goal was to offer encouragement, to let him know that when you work hard and don’t give up, the free-enterprise system will reward you. That’s a critical lesson for young people to learn at a time when a substantial portion of the country actively courts socialist ideas, more government, penalties for the productive, and guaranteed outcomes over limitless opportunity.
That’s why our responsibility to support free enterprise doesn’t end when a budding entrepreneur leaves the porch. We have to fight for this young man’s future where it counts — in the halls of the General Assembly and before every county commission and city council in this state. We have to make sure that when he scrapes together every dime he has and opens a music shop, he’ll take that risk in a state that gives him the best shot at success — a state whose laws respect his right to make his own decisions and to benefit from his labor and his risktaking.
That’s our mission at the John Locke Foundation. That’s what we mean when we say we’re dedicated to making North Carolina First in Freedom.
Yes, we’re a cadre of thinkers and researchers and communicators. But at the heart of the ideas we support is the fundamental principle that we thrive best when we have opportunity and options, free from unnecessary government meddling.
So the next time someone asks you what we mean — what you mean — when you say you support freedom, I hope you will share the glimpse of the future I met on my front porch. Let your friends and family know that when we embrace freedom, we foster the hopes and dreams of this delightful young man.
Donna Martinez (@freemktmartinez) is vice president for marketing and communications at the John Locke Foundation.