FAIRBANKS - America was built on a free-enterprise economic system defined by the dictionary as “an economic system in which commercial organizations compete for profit with little state control.”

I do not think that we as a people can enjoy freedom without free enterprise. Also, I have not heard of many free enterprisers fleeing the United States for socialist countries.

Socialism, which is now being advocated in the open by millinnial generation congressmen and by white haired senior senators, is defined by the dictionary as “an economic theory or system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state. It is characterized by production for use rather than profit, by equality of individual wealth, by the absence of competitive economic activity and, usually, by government determination of investment, prices and production levels.”

There has been a story floating around the internet for the past two decades that has circulated as a brilliant exposé on tax policy; however, it is also a brilliant exposé on why socialism does not work. I wish that I had written this story first: 

Every night, 10 men meet at a restaurant for dinner. At the end of the meal, the bill arrives. They owe $100 for the food that they shared. They will split the bill “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” a slogan popularized by Karl Marx (Communism).

Every night they line up in the same order at the cash register. The first four men pay nothing at all. The fifth, grumbling about the unfairness of the situation, pay $1. The sixth man, feeling very generous, pays $3. The next three men pay $7, $12 and $18, respectively. The last man was required to pay the remaining balance of $59. He realizes that he was forced to pay for not only his own meal but the unpaid balance left by the first five men. 

The 10 men were quite settled into their routine when the restaurant threw them into chaos by announcing that it’s cutting its prices.

Now dinner for the 10 men is only cost $80. This clearly would not affect the first four men; they still eat for free. The fifth and sixth men both claim their piece of the $20 right away. The fifth decides to forgo his $1 contribution. The sixth pitches in $2. The seventh man deductes $2 from his usual payment and pays $5. The eighth man pays $9. The ninth man pays $12, leaving the last man with a bill of $52.

Outside of the restaurant, the men begin to compare their savings; angry outbursts erupt.

The sixth man yells, “I only got $1 out of the $20, and he got $7,” pointing at the last man.

The fifth man joins in. “Yeah! I only got $1, too. It is unfair that he got seven times more than me.” 

The seventh man cries, “Why should he get $7 back when I only got $2?”

The nine men form an outraged mob, surrounding the 10th man. 

The first four men followed the lead of the others: “We didn’t get any of the $20. Where is our share?”

The nine angry men then proceeded to beat the 10th man.

The next night, the 10th man no-showed, so the nine remaining men meet at the restaurant for dinner as usual. But when the bill came, there was no one to pay it. 

Because of the free enterprise economic system in the United States we live in one of the most prosperous, countries in the world. I watch the news reporting on thousands upon thousands of Latin Americans (180,000 within the next month or so), trying to sneak across our southern border. I do not see many Americans trying to illegally sneak into Venezuela, a once prosperous socialist country with huge oil reserves.

We need to cherish and protect our economic system, while we still can, and elect free enterprise oriented representatives at our local, state, and national levels.

Charle Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus. He may be reached by email at cndexter@alaska.edu. This column is provided as a public service by the UAF Community and Technical Colleges.