When I was in the Peace Corps in the small town of Palmar Norte, Costa Rica, I stayed in a set of upstairs cubicles where the other “professors” in the high school stayed during the school year, and which was on the second floor of the only place in town that could hold a dance. It was run by a man named Chunga, who had left Mainland China when Chiang Kai-shek was overthrown by Mao Zedung in the late 1940s. During one of my conversations with Chunga I told him that I had noticed that almost all of the shops in our town were run by Chinese, and asked him if there was a reason for that. He responded to me that, of course, after Mao’s revolution many anti-communists fled to Taiwan and others kept on going to Hawaii. But many others also continued all the way to the West Coast of most countries in the Western Hemisphere. But when they arrived in their new land, they followed an ancient custom.
The custom was that many Chinese towns were informally run by a group of elders who had been successful businessmen. And there was a mentoring and support tradition that encouraged young men (certainly not women!) who had ideas for businesses to come to the elders with what amounted to an oral business plan. The elders would listen and, if impressed, would both make suggestions and also donate the seed money to get the project started. Chunga stressed that this was not a loan, so it would not have to be repaid. But it could only be done once, and if the young man was not successful he would probably have to leave town because he would be in such disgrace. As a practical matter, each of young men hoped that some day, if they were successful, they too could join the group of elders and continue the process. So that tradition had been carried on in Costa Rica, as well as most of the towns and cities on the West Coast of the Americas. This is free enterprise at its best, and is just another example of how Liberty works better than government. (About ten years after I finished my Peace Corps service I heard that Chunga had died of lung cancer from his years of smoking. But that is another story. In addition, to a limited degree, I have since then tried to get other minority communities to establish this tradition in their towns, but that is another story as well.)
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
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