Freedom sometimes means different things for different people. For the infant, freedom can mean motoring along on all fours across the floor toward the open arms of loving parents. As we age, our respective definitions of freedom expand to include bicycles ridden in youth, cars driven in adolescence, and apartments occupied in young adulthood. In these instances, our burgeoning independence is the only measuring stick for personal freedom.
However, freedom for adults and the countries in which they live is measured differently. Those freedoms classified under the rubric of ordered liberty flourish when accompanied by free-market principles. Time and again, we read objective, peer-reviewed studies concluding that freer markets result in better health care and education throughout the world. We also know countries valuing freedom perform much better at protecting the creation while at the same time recognizing higher incomes and gross domestic product.
The above metrics—while impressive—would be rendered meaningless lacking the concomitant gain of vastly reduced poverty in countries exercising economic freedom. It is as much freedom to virtuously conduct ourselves in governmentally and economically free environments as it is to celebrate freedoms from obstacles to enjoying life to the fullest; namely, the lack of hunger and other necessities of life.
The tremendous strides to eradicate world poverty made in the past 25 years are staggering. Coincidentally, the tools employed to realize such steps are identical to the free-market and faith-based strategies we at the Acton Institute have championed heartily since we opened our doors a quarter of a century ago.
We’re not done yet—not by a long shot—but sometimes it’s proper to take a breather to reflect on the combined remarkable accomplishments of the freemarket and poverty-eradication movements before rolling up our sleeves to continue our honorable endeavors. Among Acton’s proud achievements is receiving the 2015 Atlas Network’s $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award for a documentary produced by our PovertyCure initiative: Poverty, Inc.
Just as children mature from walking or running to riding and driving toward independence, Poverty, Inc. chronicles entrepreneurial efforts to steer the world’s poor from becoming dependent on charity while moving toward economic independence. I’m firmly convinced that continuing to implement such entrepreneurial and free-market tactics to combat poverty and injustice throughout the world will net even more outstanding gains throughout Acton’s next 25 years.