When businessmen get involved in policy advocacy, they can help promote the freedom to do business. Yet the impression, fostered by some libertarian intellectuals, that business lobbying tends only to produce special favors for politically connected businesses, can discourage honorable businessmen from participating in the fight for their own freedom. So argues Fred L.

Smith, founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in an essay published this week by Cato.

There are other factors as well, such as the fear some businessmen have of unfavorable government attention.

But I would suggest one further problem: Too many businessmen, too many Americans in all areas of life, fail to recognize that each and every individual is the purpose of his or her own life and has the right to direct his or her own efforts. According to the dominant alternative—that society is the purpose of our lives and that government has the right to orchestrate our efforts—for businessmen to engage in politics on behalf of business must mean to attempt to gain more of society’s resources for themselves, even when this is done through policies of a libertarian nature. It’s no wonder this seems unattractive to people who, in fact, are spending their lives creating wealth rather than trying to seize it.

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