The freedom of thought is the right to create, protect, and share ideas. This freedom spawns new technologies and processes, resulting in long-term, sustainable economic growth. The freedom of thought enables each individual to utilize the distinguishing trait that makes humans superior: the human mind. The human mind can create wealth from where there was nothing. Free enterprise rewards those who use their minds.
“Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think.”- Ayn Rand
Free enterprise grants individuals the right to create new ideas. This is done through private research and development. Private research and development has resulted in most inventions and discoveries. Inventions resulting from this freedom include the modern light bulb, integrated circuits, and trains. Thoughts and ideas are the most powerful tools of mankind to create a better world. Thought generation is a powerful force that moves the economy forward.
Governments protect thinkers from having their ideas stolen or exploited. This is accomplished through intellectual property laws, which were created hundreds of years ago. Patents protect new inventions, designs, and processes. Trademarks protect the words and images associated with brands. Copyrights protect literary, musical, and artistic work. Ideas would be free without intellectual property laws. Thus, no one would be incentivized to create new ideas. This is not to say that protecting ideas limits the usage of those ideas. Patents can allow an inventor to produce as much as he or she wants as long as the patent is still in effect. Patents may also be licensed if the inventor does not want to carry out the manufacturing of their invention. The protection of ideas gives them value in the market.
In a free enterprise system, individuals are allowed to openly communicate ideas through the freedom of speech. The freedom of speech allows people to market their new ideas and inventions. Thus, a cell phone manufacturer seeking to improve its cell phones has a way to find inventors to license a patent from. The ability to communicate joins the sellers of ideas with the buyers of ideas, creating a marketplace for ideas.
Free enterprise requires that individuals think. Thus, the freedom of thought must be granted to people. The unrestrained human mind creates a world of abundance and wealth. Refer to “Free Enterprise System Definition and Characteristics” to learn about similar freedoms.