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Word Count: 779
Free Enterprise Work hard save your money and you can become wealthy - or at least independent This is the motto of old-fashioned free enterprise It expresses the idea that everybody in a capitalist society can participate and compete on the same terms with similar chances of success It implies that the working class is just a collection of individuals who have not yet established their independence worked their way up through individual initiative rather than a being permanent class In the early 19th Century most Americans including Abraham Lincoln for instance believed this They thought opportunities under capitalism would keep expanding forever But what is the reality behind this capitalist thinking In the past working people in America have had more opportunity to go into business or to get land for farming than anywhere else in the developed world At the time the US Constitution was written it was generally assumed that only property owners should have the right to vote and participate in government The Free Labor thinking of the Republican Party before the Civil War was basically a form of the capitalist work ethic It meant that if 1 you were free yourself 2 your country was free and 3 there was no slave labor to take your livelihood you could make something of yourself and become a capitalist or at least an independent producer professional or artist Americans in the North at that time were influenced by this capitalist work-ethic to under-estimate the energy of the South They thought as the capitalist work-ethic would lead them to believe that the poverty and economic decline of the South were probably due to laziness and that this indicated that the North should be able to easily defeat the South But the Civil War proved that Southerners were not lazy it was the slave system lacking science and industry that caused many of the economic problems there The capitalist work-ethic also caused
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