The Entrepreneur, the Artist

by sgarzon

By Adrian Gutierrez

Probably the most common question that has been hurled at me in some exasperation when bantering excessively with my girlfriend (art history erudite) and her fellow art historian friends is, “Why don’t you stick to economics?”  For different reasons, this question has been thrown at me with some relevant application, but it most assuredly has been extended to me by those who have disagreed with me over political doctrine or my anti-government stance, and are annoyed that an economist should venture “outside of his discipline.”

Among economists, such a question is a sad reflection of the hyperspecialization among intellectuals of the present age.  I think it manifestly true that very few of even the most dedicated economic technicians began their interest in economics because they were fascinated by cost curves, indifference classes, and the rest of the paraphernalia of modern economic theory.  It is without a doubt that perhaps almost nobody in their specified discipline was sparked to interest by any one of the various mechanics one now has taken a thorough predilection for, and which one also continuously investigates and studies.  It is this zeal for truth that drives us to think creatively, and to think beyond what in the future will become our specified disciplines.  In my own particular case, the major focus of my interest and my writings has been a part of this broader approach — libertarianism — the discipline of liberty.  For I have come to believe that libertarianism is indeed a discipline, a “science,” if you will, of its own, even though it has been only barely developed over the generations.  Libertarianism is a new and emerging discipline that touches closely on many other areas of the study of human action: economics, philosophy, political theory, biology, history, even, and not least art.  For all of these provide in varying ways the groundwork, the elaboration, and the application of libertarianism; but notwithstanding, they provide the groundwork for that which we are, and the human experience.

My thorough knowledge of economics has guided me to think beyond the mundane, and many times useless, mathematical jargon and unrealistic models learned in the discipline of economics at universities across the world.  What is more important to look at is human action, or praxeology.  The axiom of human action, once understood, allows for the broader picture of economics to become more lucid and comprehensible.  Once understood, the free-market then becomes a lattice-work of order and efficiency guided by individuals performing their varied tasks and disciplines; each using his toiled means to reach their subjective ends.  Within this ordered liberty the creative flow of entrepreneurial innovation is never hindered, and thus coercive bodies only slow the productive capacity of the entrepreneur to bestow the market their product which in the end will increase consumer choice and raise standards of living.  “Who then is the entrepreneur?” one might ask when venturing into the workings of the free market.  These are the men who invest in “capital” (land and/or capital goods) used in the productive process.   The entrepreneur buys factors or factor services in the present; his product must be sold in the future.  He is always on the alert, then, for discrepancies, for areas where he can earn more than the going rate of interest.

The entrepreneur is the driving force of a market economy.  It is the entrepreneur who judges that something is missing in the market, and decides to start a new business or develop a new product.  The entrepreneur uses savings (either personal or borrowed from capitalists) to hire workers, rent land and equipment, and purchase raw materials, electricity, semi-finished goods, and other inputs.  The entrepreneur then gives instructions to the hired help to use the tools, machinery, and inputs to produce goods and services which in turn are sold to customers. The customers of a particular business may be other entrepreneurs or the final consumer.  For example, one entrepreneur might open a bakery, where he uses a large oven, flour, water, and a bunch of teenagers to produce French bread for local families.  But there is another entrepreneur whose business is the production of industrial-scale steel ovens, and his customers are other entrepreneurs such as the baker and the owner of a restaurant.

Each of these human actors have decided to satisfy their personal needs, which is usually to make profits.  For without profits, they would not be able to reinvest in their deteriorating capital, or in newer more efficient capital.  Thus these entrepreneurs are able to provide the market a good, product or service which will be useful to anyone interested in buying and utilizing it.  The profit-loss method of keeping entrepreneurs on their toes to provide the best and most efficient goods and services makes for a wonderful and natural display of free-market art.  Perhaps now it is time to ask how is an entrepreneur an artist, and for that one must first attempt to understand what art is.  My favorite economist states that :

“{Art is}…the reshaping of reality in accordance with the artist’s values, and the communication of these values to the reader or beholder. In short, art is the objectification, the bringing into tangible reality, of an artist’s values…We all know that one of the prime characteristics of art is its ability to induce emotion in the beholder…We are now in a position to explain this phenomenon. For emotions are value-responses, i.e., they are reactions determined by a person’s values. If a man approves of something, he will feel a favorable emotion toward it; if he disapproves, he will experience an unfavorable reaction…” Murray N Rothbard

One can conclude in reading this that art indeed deals with the individual experience and his personal values.  The experience garnered by the human actor from finding the entrepreneur’s efforts useful, will be decided once the good or service is utilized by the next person in the production process, whether it be the baker’s dough or the producer of steel ovens.  The experience lived by the actor who utilizes the entrepreneur’s efforts, is thus the expression of the entrepreneur’s values in objectified form.  As an insulation is lived at the precise moment, certain consumers’ goods must be consumed sooner than others (French bread compared to a steel ovens for example).  In our globalized world, and with the ever advancing technology readily available to individuals, all means of life must be taken into account when understanding what art is.  Little have people realized that the modern artist desires expressing himself within the finely woven liberty of the free market, and indeed as I have emphatically attempted to explain, an entrepreneur naturally demonstrates his creative capacities through production, with his ultimate goal being profit (whether mental or monetary), to raise standards of living for themselves and the others they indirectly effect.