“Parents Are The Ultimate Entrepreneurs”

The following are excerpts from the Afterword: The Faith of Fathers from George Gilder’s book, Men and Marriage.

Capitalism begins with the love of families for their children and the belief that any child may grow up and make huge contributions to his society. [...]

Any system that does not uphold the value and freedom of individuals, however lowly, will miss most of the greatest technical and economic breakthroughs.

Giving, beginning within the family and extending outward into the society, is the moral center of the system. It does not succeed by allowing the leading capitalists to revel in riches; if they hoard their wealth the system tends to fail. It succeeds by inducing the capitalist continually to give his wealth back to the system in the form of new gifts and investments.

A key misconception of the Left is that giving is somehow simple and easy: you just stand on the street corner and distribute dollars, or you create a welfare system that redistributes money. But anyone who really considers the problem closely discovers that it is difficult to give without harming, that it takes intimate knowledge to give without taking in the long run. This is why families are the crucial instrument of overcoming poverty: because people who live with others and have direct responsibility for them, who bear children and thus have their lives descended into the future, can give in a productive and successful way. Distant institutions distribute dollars, but they cannot really give.

A capitalist business is a better instrument of giving than is a welfare state. The process of investment, oriented towards fulfilling the needs and desires of others, in cooperation with others in the firm, leads to a more altruistic way of life and result of effort than does many a public charity. The ultimate morality of the company is rooted in the morality of the family—in the golden rule and in the returns of giving.

Indeed, the essential capitalist act—the very paradigm of giving or investing without a predetermined outcome—is the bearing, raising, and educating of children. Above all, in advanced societies where child labor is rare, children entail a prolonged and precarious commitment of work and wealth, love and faith, with no assurance of future return. [...] Parents are the ultimate entrepreneurs, and, as with all entrepreneurs, the odds are against them. But all human progress—of businesses and families as well as societies—depends on an entrepreneurial willingness to defy the odds. It is in the nuclear family that the most crucial process of capitalist defiance and faith is centered.

Here emerge the most indispensable acts of capital formation: the psychology of giving, saving, and sacrifice, in behalf of an unknown future, embodied in a specific child—a balky bundle of possibilities, which will yield its social reward even further into time than the most foresighted business plan. In this venture, few mothers—and no societies—can succeed without enlisting the fathers.

Marriage is the key to the connection of fathers to this central process in the creation of life and the production of wealth. The golden rule and perennial lesson of marriage is: “Give and you will be given unto.” It is the obvious message of motherhood. But societies thrive only to the extent that this maternal wisdom becomes as well the faith of fathers.

Parents Are the Ultimate Entrepreneurs

Capitalism begins with the love of families for their children and the belief that any child may grow up and make...Continue Reading→