Frank Stronach: Why economic freedom matters to all of us


I’m always suspicious of people who say money doesn’t matter

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I believe that people all over the world have two basic desires: First, they yearn for personal freedom, which essentially means they want the right to choose their own path to happiness.

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And second, they want economic freedom, which means they want to be financially independent. The reality is that people are only truly free if they enjoy economic freedom. Personal freedom may mean little to a single mother living in poverty and struggling to put food on the table. It simply means that she and her children are free to be hungry and free to be poor.

Even though we live in a very advanced and prosperous society, perhaps only 5% of the Canadian population can be considered economically free. Economic freedom has different meanings in different parts of the world. Here in North America, I believe that economic freedom would consist of accumulating enough wealth after working for about 30 years to be able to own a modest home and have enough money in the bank to stop working and live off the interest of your des savings. At this point, you would be free to nurture your heart and mind by pursuing lifelong passions and hobbies. To me, this is just a glimpse of what economic freedom entails.

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Yet very few of us are economically free. Why is that?

So very few of us are economically free. Why is that?

Western societies have focused on creating great charters of human rights and freedoms, and these rights and freedoms must always be protected – they have laid the foundation for the development of prosperous and democratic societies. But at the same time, I find it incomprehensible that we as a society don’t put more emphasis on how people can achieve economic freedom.

The desire to achieve economic freedom was what motivated me as a young man to start my own business. It was fire in my stomach. I made a lot of sacrifices and worked very hard, investing a lot of time and money to build several successful businesses. They have given me the financial independence I have always wanted – and that independence means more to me than any material possessions or honors and awards I have received during my career.

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This is one of the main reasons why I strongly believe that society needs to ensure that there is a reward system for entrepreneurs and individuals who start their own small businesses. If there were no tangible financial rewards associated with starting a business, then no one in their right mind would risk their hard-earned savings and the huge investment of personal time and effort required to build a business. from zero.

Consider the industry in which I have worked most of my life. Why would someone invest money to build a factory, buy machinery, and hire employees to make products if they could earn more money by buying government bonds? Most people who start a business from scratch pay a heavy price and have a pretty tough chance of succeeding. This is why the rewards must be substantial.

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And I’m always suspicious of people who say money doesn’t matter. The truth is, money can be a great motivator, even if it’s just a tool to achieve other goals, like economic freedom.

At this stage of my life, I want to be of service to society. I want to do my part to build a more prosperous and more democratic society, a fairer and freer society. Above all, I want to find ways to empower people to follow the same path to economic freedom that I have followed.

When I look back on my own career and add up all the hours I’ve worked, it’s sometimes hard to believe. There were times when I would work two or three days and nights in a row to complete an order. During the first years of my business, I sometimes took a short break by working on a Saturday or Sunday. I sat under an old chestnut tree outside the factory to get some fresh air. I saw young couples buying ice cream or going to the movies, and I sometimes thought: Why am I doing this? I was stuck there bashing metal for meeting a deadline, wishing I hadn’t taken the order, hadn’t made that promise to a customer.

If I could do it all over again, I would do some things a little differently, no doubt, but I would do it all over again. Although I paid a heavy price, the rewards were immeasurable, and the reward I cherish above all else is my economic freedom. I am free, totally free, and there is no greater feeling in the world than that.

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Frank Stronach is the founder of Magna International Inc., one of Canada’s largest global companies, and an inductee into the Automotive Hall of Fame.


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