A Q&A with the Author
What made you decide to write Freedom Manifesto?
The widespread “conventional wisdom” has long been that free markets are amoral, uncaring and driven by “greed”—while Big Government is a force for compassion and fairness. This insidious, deep-seeded belief is the opposite of reality. Not only has it kept people from seeing the moral virtues of democratic capitalism, but it also intimidates supporters and keeps them from standing up for economic freedom.
Why do you say that free markets are moral?
Free markets create abundance. Opening up any economy unleashes human ingenuity and enterprise. Allowing more competition and opportunity for profit means greater investment in job-creating enterprises and innovation. You end up with lower prices, more available goods and services, more jobs and growth. People’s real world needs are met. The most vibrant sectors of our economy—such and technology, food and clothing—are those that are the most free. Or compare communist North Korea with South Korea and its market economy. Which society offers the greatest fairness?
Why is this book important to read right now?
Our book deals with the fundamental question at the heart of the 2012 presidential election: What kind of nation do we want to be? Are we a country founded on the values of freedom and limited government as envisioned by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Or do we want to become a European-style social welfare state?
Several books have recently explored why free enterprise is moral. What makes this book different?
Freedom Manifesto places the moral differences between economic freedom and Big Government in exceptionally stark relief, showing the real choices facing us today. For example, do Americans want Apple or Solyndra?—a society that provides the chance for anyone to get ahead or one based on cronyism that keeps out true innovators and newcomers? Do they want Silicon Valley or Detroit?—a creative innovation economy like our technology sector, or one mired in rigidity, like our over-regulated health care industry?
Wouldn’t society descend into chaos without government to provide guidance? Why do you say “Big Government” is immoral?
Government is essential to the functioning of free markets because it establishes rules of the road and creates a stable environment where transactions take place according to the impartial rule of law. But Big Government is different from reasonable government. It directs people’s activities and imposes constraints on personal choice and individual freedom. It is about favoritism and paybacks to powerful political constituencies. Big Government also divides society, with various interest groups jockeying for political favors.
In a free market, you don’t have to please powerful politicians to advance. Newcomers can rise and upend established players. There is greater mobility and more prosperity for all. The markets of a free economy promote cooperation and democracy. If that’s not a fair and humane society, what is?
About the Author
STEVE FORBES is chairman and editor in chief of Forbes Media and an internationally respected authority in the worlds of economics, finance, and corporate leadership. He campaigned twice for the Republican nomination for the presidency. His previous books include the Wall Street Journal bestseller How Capitalism Will Save Us, the New York Times bestseller Power Ambition Glory, Flat Tax Revolution, and A New Birth of Freedom.
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ELIZABETH AMES coauthored How Capitalism Will Save Us with Steve Forbes. She is the founder of BOLDE Communications, which advises corporate and individual clients on communications strategies. Her journalism and commentary have appeared in a wide range of publications.