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Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government
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110 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is the single most important non-fiction book defending capitalism ever written--more important tham Smith, Friedman, Von Mises or the like. The reason is that unlike other books purporting to defend capitalism this book presents an uncompromised moral defense based on self-interest and the profit motive. It shows that self-interest guided by reason is morally good and that capitalism cannot be defended morally without self-interest as its moral base. (Even Adam Smith defended self-interest based on collectivism--the good of society rather than individual rights). The book shows that the out-of-contol growth of government is based on the view that businessmen are viewed as "greedy" and the people are "needy" and therefore have the moral right to condemn business and have all their needs satisfied by government (which means: by their neighbors). The authors show that the creed of altruism (self-sacrifice) rather than being moral is immoral and destructive. Another virtue of this book is that it defends real (laissez-faire) capitalism, not a self-destructive mixed economy. Finally, the book shows specific steps that need to be taken to change our system from a mixed economy to a free (laissez-faire) economy. By giving capitalism a proper moral defense, this book demolishes every attempt by conservatives to "defend" capitalism and and shows the way to attain true freedom and prosperity. This book, if taken seriously, can save us from economic suicide and usher in a new period of growth and propsperity.
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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I studied economics and political science in the 1960's but I learned more about the relationship between them from this book than I did during 4 years of undergrad work. This book explains how Ayn Rand's morality of selfishness is necessary to direct our political actions toward having an economy of Capitalism. At the same time it shows how altruism, being your brother's keeper, will and necessarily must send us down the road to destruction by sacrificing all the good things we have. Not just material things, but productivity, happiness, justice and self-esteem. Selfishness here is not criminal activity, nor mean spiritedness, nor even lack of generosity. See Ayn Rand's book,Atlas Shrugged for her fictional portrayal of selfishness as a new morality, derived from the facts of reality.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"In a free economy, where no man or group of men can use physical coercion against anyone, economic power can be achieved only by voluntary means: by the voluntary choice and agreement of all those who participate in the process of production and trade." With these words Ayn Rand demonstrated to me the profound difference between the power of an industrialist in a free market and the power of a bureaucrat wielding the arbitrary whim of law. When I was initially exposed to her ideas in 'The Virtue of Selfishness,' I knew the moment I started reading the first essay that I had in my hands something truly revolutionary. A light had switched on.

Many individuals make the mistake of staking claim to a political side, left or right, based on shallow criteria. They want to fit into a particular clique or be thought of as a particular type of person so they select their politics accordingly. Essentially, the mistake is in ignoring the other branches of philosophy such as epistemology and ethics on which a proper politics should be based. In this volume, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins do a splendidly brilliant job of demonstrating the difference between economic power and political power. So many arguments for government action are knee-jerk in nature; "That's bad. There aught to be a law!" This book not only explains clearly how government works and why it grows, but also that when it grows it grows more unethical or even corrupt.

The moral case for free markets is an open and shut case. Political freedom walks hand in hand with economic freedom and intellectual freedom. These principles are acutely denoted in this book in a writing style that is informative, clear, and easy to comprehend. Here is provided the necessary philosophical underpinnings of rational self-interest that shine a bright light on exactly why free markets enable man to reach ever higher strata of success, ability, and happiness. For those seeking a deeper or more profound understanding of politics and economics, I can think of no better place to start than 'Free Market Revolution.'
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Without free markets, freedom itself means little. America is drowning in fallacies about how free markets work and why they are morally right, but Brook and Watkins offer a lifeline we ignore at our peril. -- Lawrence W. Reed, president, Foundation for Economic Education--[...].
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
5 Stars for clarity:

Out of the 50's & 60's, I was a perfect example, a byproduct, of "public education:" uninspired and unchallenged and unread. I was far more interested in working than reading. I dropped out of school during what was suppose to be my last year of high school, so that I could work full time rather than part time...as a bus boy/dish washer for a meager 10 cents per hour...but, I was earning my own pocket money, which was the only thing that interested me...at the time.

I did, however, recommit my self to returning to finish my senior year. It was during this second try that my history teacher first introduced me to Ayn Rand's work. The challenge? Read Atlas Shrugged, answer some questions for extra points towards our final exam. At no point, during the course of the entire year, had he mentioned her name or her work. I obtained Atlas Shrugged from the school's library, but not being a "reader," on any meaningful level, plus with all the distractions of "graduating," I was unable to complete the task.

It was only during my boot camp months in the Navy, later that same year, that I recalled that there was a message in the book that was...somehow...someway... being directed at me, personally, and that I needed to get back to reading and learning of what that message was. What caught and kept my attention for these 40+ years was the clarity that Ms. Rand presented some very complicated ideas and ideals, in sharp contrast to all other presentations.

I am happy to report...early into the book...that it is this same "clarity," the FREE MARKET REVOLUTION has been written; capitalism is seldom explained in such a concise, precise "sound bite:" Free Markets. I hope a "revolution" will indeed pursue, but I suspect it will be more of an evolution...for we are so far along the yellow brick road of a Cool Aid drinking culture.

I am looking forward to a better understanding of how a Free Market really can work...in addition to understanding better the moral bases on which it is built.

Now, back to the book...

Ryan York
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There's a lot of decisive rhetoric about the beauty vs. the horrors of a truly free market system but the authors of this book present a powerful case for why capitalism is actually the only philosophically moral political and economic system ever known. Fascinating, clear and concise. Be open, read it and make up your own mind!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading for college students and those in the House & Senate.
I'd recommend it to Obama, but the Socialist is too far gone.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Synopsis

In Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins make the case that there needs to be a dramatic change in the way people morally think about selfishness and the free market if there is to be any stop to the continual growth of government.

In Part I, "The Problem," Brook and Watkins dedicate four chapters to describing the current growth of government, its history, its causes, and finish with a brilliant look at how government intervention was the cause of, not the remedy for, the 2008 housing/financial crisis.

In Part II, "The Solution," they go on to detail how the growth of government arises from a distrust of free markets that is predicated on a distrust of of the self-interested action pursued on the free market. Until the citizens of the US adopt a radically different understanding of selfishness and its moral status, Brook and Watkins argue, the growth of government is inevitable. The solution, they assert, is to adopt Ayn Rand's distinctive view of rational selfishness a moral ideal. They go on to describe how this view of selfishness plays out in free markets and how government intervention hampers it, with special emphasis paid to the regulatory state (Chapter 11), the entitlement state (Chapter 12), and health care (Chapter 13).

Impressions

I was extremely impressed with this book. It is short (only 221 pages) and extremely readable. Brook and Watkins eschew abstruse philosophic language in favor of a common sense approach to political philosophy and economics which should be easily understandable to the layman.

Though the ethical and political views they espouse in the book were put forth by Ayn Rand over 50 years ago, widespread ignorance and avoidance of her ideas means that the solutions Brook and Watkins are promoting are still distinctively new on the mainstream political scene. Their arguments are not, as some have argued, the "same old arguments" for the free market, which is good because nothing is more obvious than the conspicuous inability of the "familiar arguments" to end Big Government. Brook and Watkins routinely criticize and evaluate even the most ardent free market supporters of the past, e.g., Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, arguing that these thinkers too often support the free market from an altruist perspective, arguing that the free market has "social benefits" which justify the selfishness inherent in the actions of the market participants. Instead of justifying market selfishness because it has ancillary "social benefits," Brook and Watkins argue convincingly that selfishness, when viewed properly, is a moral ideal that requires no justification on the political or economic level. In so doing, they offer real solutions to the problem of Big Government.

Brook and Watkins do cover some topics familiar to readers of pro-market economists (e.g., division of labor, prices, competition, innovation) but they do so in a way that uniquely explains these phenomena according to the ethics of rational selfishness, rather than viewing them as a vindicating "social benefit" of free markets.

In Free Market Revolution, Brook and Watkins promote the need for exactly that--a revolution--in the minds not just of those now disinclined to free markets but also, perhaps even more importantly, in the minds of those who already think of themselves as free-market advocates but who are hopelessly held back by a groundless affinity for the ethics of altruism.

Some have criticized the book for content left out, but I think this criticism is misguided. The authors clearly intended to make a short and digestible work and they ought to be commended for how much content they were able to get into so few pages without sacrificing readability or rendering it dense and tiring. Any content left out can be pursued by the interested reader in other volumes.

In my opinion, the only (very minor) flaw in the book is the occasional use of language which might not be suited the less financially literate. For example, the authors use the financial term "leverage" without clearly explaining its meaning, which may leave some readers with only a vague sense of what they mean. Certainly the reader can look it up elsewhere, but this does sacrifice some of the otherwise self-contained nature of the book.

Who Should Read It

Everyone should read it, especially those who already support free markets and are confused by the continual growth of government. The book is short, easy-to-read, and requires no special prerequisite knowledge.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Free Market Revolution is the most original, thoughtful, and accessible book to make the case for capitalism since Ayn Rand herself was still writing. The authors connect the economic and political advantages of capitalism to their moral roots, showing that it is not only the system that delivers the goods, but does so because it is the system that promotes *the* good. The authors' moral arguments in favor of capitalism--taken from Ayn Rand--are simple and persuasive; they demonstrate those arguments with creative and fresh examples, and they introduce the ideas in a respectful manner that is accessible to any intelligent reader. Their premises are radical, their case is unanswerable, and their conclusions would push the country onto a path of startlingly different economic, legal, and political principles than those that have prevailed during the past 80 years. If these ideas gain a serious hearing, the case for capitalism made by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins will capture the moral highground and its advocates will win the battle for individualism and liberty being waged today.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Great book that deserves a lengthy review.

Little disclaimer before review: I am a health care provider from Croatia, ex-communist Eastern European 100% entitlement-state, with recent war experience. So my and surrounding views on free-market vs. government controlled state are certainly skewed by lack of experiencing true capitalism. Local experience of business and capitalism is one where national wealth was grabbed by few, where business meant taking loans with your workers houses as collateral, where even hinting that some part of health care should be private will have you lynched by the angry mob.

I bought this book because there is ongoing debate here about the role of state in capitalism (unbridled neo-liberal kind how is often referred here). This book was my first choice because it had almost exclusively 5-star ratings with couple of inarticulate 1-starred.

First the book is very easy to read, easy to understand regardless of your economic/political education and presents ideas clearly. It's well paced and 220 pages don't tire you. 5-stars for that.

Introduction, where the foundations of the problems are laid out is well presented. It's final part is the explanation how government control is THE CAUSE of housing meltdown of 2008 and not some greedy unchecked Wall-Street capitalism. That's a big turn on what you can hear in almost any media. Although the case is presented a bit simplistic it does make a persuasive case. I don't have enough economic knowledge to be the judge of that but certainly this part of the book leaves you thinking.

Next follows the philosophical attack on the attacks of selfishness or why rational selfishness is good. This is the part of the book that excels. It's BRILLIANT. It turns out that our upbringing and education have entrenched ideas in our brains that altruism is so superior that you are almost unable to perceive otherwise. This part of the book does a wonderful job of turning your views completely or if you had suspicions yourself that endless giving is not your only job" in the world then this chapter gives you voice and moral highground.

The great writings continue in chapters:
a) on businessman as productive, industrious, profit motivated "honest" beings instead of cut-throat exploiters and villains
b) on merits of market forces
c) on progress that capitalism made for the worker (or anybody for that matter), instead of impoverishing the worker which is the usual way of viewing capitalist-worker relationship
d) on how capitalism sparks innovation and enriches the whole society
e) on how welfare state leads to more welfare that will lead to ultimate demise of the society
All great reads that put a lot of new perspective if you haven't read this kind of literature before (I haven't).

So why not give it 5 stars?

For me it's the parts that a missing or parts that remain unanswered that give it lower ratings.

The topics that I mean are the following:

LACK OF WORKING EXAMPLE
What's definitely missing is: Show me that it can be done! Show me where it works!
Since there is no country in the world (as authors admit it) that ever had completely free markets you always wonder if this is just another theoretical manifesto.
There is no difference between this work and Zeitgeist's mumblings on YouTube about no-work technology-for-all global utopia and Marx's collectivist state bringing progress and erasing inequality.
However practice often fails to replicate what theory proposed.

Also, how is it that some of the most developed countries in the world like Sweden, Finland, Denmark have huge wealth redistribution programs and have banned private education entirely (Finland) and yet rank at the top in those categories?

EXTENT OF FREE MARKETS
Authors present such a radical view of superiority of free markets that you have to ask yourself: how about a free market for anything?

In one chapter it hints that what would be left out is: police to deal with breaches of personal liberties, judiciary system to sanction it and military to defend from outside attempts on our freedom.

However it leaves a lot unanswered. For example:
1. What about free market for parts of the sea ? So you could charge vessels for fishing or passing through. And you could also extinguish all sea-life from it.
2. What about free market for ore? If the government sets its exploitation price doesn't it violate the free-market principle by determining the price of input?
3. How about free market for drugs?
4. Online poker? As authors like to put it no Costa-Rican online operator put a gun to a poker aficionado's head in New Jersey and forced him to play poker but USA prohibits it.
5. How about free market for organs?
6. How about free market for "sex-slavery"? Instead of having to deal with unwilling, aging, nagging wife I would like someone willing and eager to please me in a way that I choose say for a year. Technically she wouldn't be a sex slave because she's free to decide she wants to do it (personal liberties principle intact), she gets paid and gets to keep it (private property principle intact) and we both voluntarily signed the contract (voluntary exchange principle intact). Same goes for kidney donation. Is there some superior convention that should safeguard from such practice?

Also what happens to:
1. a war veteran who lost both legs and ability to concentrate completely in a shell explosion? Yet he's the one that built in his health into my today's pursuit of happiness. Tough luck buddy, you are now useless in the labor market???
2. a potentially rational child whose parents made irrational choices and died of cocaine?
3. next Steve Jobs whose parents die in a car crash?
4. every women who is handicapped" by the fact that only women can give birth to a child and it takes you away from labor for more then a cigarette break? Should she find a man rationally" who gives her the best chance of staying afloat in those times? Isn't that a violation of equal freedom for all? What would feminists say?
5. basic research of some Antarctica bacteria or the inner workings of a quark? Although not directly useful as marketable technology such small pieces of knowledge build a big puzzle. In the future it may allow us to extract zillion of Watts from few hydrogen atoms or cleaning the ocean of plastic bottles floating around?

Authors strictly prohibit any kind of government intervention in such topics. If you give just a little, then there's no stopping it, Pandora's box is open and the only way it can end is in completely ruined entitlement state.

CAVEAT EMPTOR PROBLEM
Isn't it in McDonald's interest to produce safe and good food? Isn't it in the interest of elevator producer not to kill it's customers? So why trust same faceless bureaucrat to do a better job and tell you that a BigMac is safe and this elevator won't kill you?" - authors say.
Free market would weed out all dishonest attempts at making a buck by selling crap products and we need exactly zero regulation on the safety of products we use.
While the argument holds true for lung run and for most businesses that intend to stay in the market, how many one-time crooks would enter a market for banking, then for toy-making then for online hotel booking with the only goal in mind to cheat you (harming you in the process)?

Authors response is: CAVEAT EMPTOR!

Now, average supermarket offers 45000 products. And that's a supermarket alone.
Please convince me that you have time, energy and knowledge to exercise caveat emptor for 45000 products. Tell me that you have the skills to protect your daughter from licking poisonous toy, to protect your son from getting Salmonella on every ice-cream stand you come across, to protect your wife from taking a drug that may cause paralysis or protecting your whole family from buying defective water-heater that won't kill you by emitting carbon-monoxide. And you can extend that for thousand other scenarios.

Caveat emptor worked in middle ages when you went to your local town market, dealt with 10 vendors and 20 products.

RATIONALITY PROBLEM
If a drug company puts out a new drug and if patient is willing to take a calculated risk on it why do we need some FDA verdict to tell us that it's safe?"

That's my favorite topic as I deal with it every day. People presented with disease and it's implications are, apart from tiny minority, partially or completely devoid of RATIO. Especially when malignant disease is the problem. And I'm not talking about uneducated ones only.

Now, imagine a scenario where you have a 5-year old child with leukemia who's written off by "conventional" medicine on the grounds that all known effective chemotherapy is exhausted. He (his parents actually) is now given a chance at trying some new experimental drug" for 50.000$.

How does this look from business perspective? Look, we get to make 50.000$ from 100% non-returning customer at zero-risk. We would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we didn't take it.

How does this look from parents perspective? After reviewing carefully the molecular structure of the proposed drug, reviewing the unwanted patohistological findings on brains of experimental animals and reviewing the efficacy of similar drugs in human subjects the parents will make a rational decision if it's worth risking 50.000$ for child's life with x-calculated % of success? Sure it does. They are emotional wrecks ready to be pillaged by anybody who has stomach to go for it.

And that needs regulation in my opinion. And if you accept any regulation the principle of free market is gone according to authors and there is no coming back.

After all, Kahneman won a Nobel Prize for proving that people don't act rationally in purely financial cases like: I risk 100$ for a gain of 200$ with x % of success and y % of complete loss vs. some scenario B where I gain 120$ with z% of success and very low t % of complete loss. Even if scenario A is mathematically correct people chose less favorable scenario B because emotions instead of ratio win the battle. And if we as a rationally-handicapped beings aren't capable of making rational decisions in matters of money, how come you expect them to make such choices when your child's life is at stake?

HOW IN THE TITLE OF THE BOOK IS MISSING
I think the title is misnomer because apart from couple of pages on HOW to fix medical system and last chapter of some 10 pages which vaguely proposes what we should do majority of the book deals with WHY should we pursue capitalism. It never gives clear action plan HOW to do it.
And another question I would like to ask is: Where do I and my countrymen go from here?" What I mean is what should we coming from 100% entitlement state do if you view America's chances as very bleak.

CONCLUSION
Great book, great read, definitely worth coming back to. Surely an eye-opener for many, I would dare say even those that believe are free-market oriented.

The final rating is not here to downgrade the book in value, it's here because I'm searching for the answers to the questions posted above and I would like to encourage authors to address them in some further publications.

I guess that with every book concerning this topic people have "feelings running high" regardless if you are randist or Naomi Klein fan and you flock behind the book like a banner that expresses your views without ever giving thought to the opposite.
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