Free Enterprise Constitutional Amendment

State Representative Susan Lynn


Each of us grew up understanding that free enterprise is our economic system in the United States. So we can be forgiven for being a little confused lately because today the federal government is seeking to control the salaries of those employed by private business, to change the provisions of private of contracts, to nationalize banks, insurers and auto manufacturers, and to effectually eliminate any free market that may have still existed in healthcare.

Seeking to hold-on to the vestiges of the system that has made our country great, I recently drafted and passed model legislation at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s winter meeting to create a Constitutional Amendment on free enterprise; “It is the policy of the state of Tennessee that a free enterprise system shall govern trade and commerce in this state to promote the dispersion of economic and political power and the general welfare of all the people.” To date, only Utah has such a reassuring clause in their state Constitution.

By definition, a free enterprise economy is an economic system controlled chiefly by individuals and private companies; not the government.

Characteristics include economic freedom which allows people to decide how they will earn and spend their income; goods and services are produced and allocated through supply and demand by voluntary exchanges; private ownership of property and of the means of production is the key; and profit is not a bad word but greeted by freedom.

This wonderful system creates an incentive to work which causes capitalist societies to achieve a higher standard of living than do societies with other economic systems.

One ALEC member asked if this amendment was saying that there should be no regulation of business at all. Do we approve of stealing, of fraud, or abuse of natural resources I asked. No, whether done by an individual or a business such actions clearly violate the Constitutional rights of others. Unfortunately, such a question belies a misunderstanding as fundamental as the misunderstandings that have created the free-market killing regulations we see being enacted today.

HJR 722 will ensure that free enterprise remains the policy of our state and nation; this is extremely important. However, it is up to each to study our founding documents to gain a proper understanding of the role of government so that we don’t enact any laws upon people or business that are beyond of the principle of securing our Constitutional rights.

)State Representative Susan Lynn is the Chairman of the Government Operations Committee in the Tennessee House and Chairman of the Commerce Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC.ORG).)