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The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise Hardcover – May 8, 2012
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It is true, but insufficient, to argue that free enterprise makes us better off. Arthur Brooks makes the indispensable point that it also makes us better. Having stumbled far down the road to serfdom, we are much in need of Brooks' trenchant case for a change of course.”
P. J. O'Rourke
America's tradition of being free provides greater economic growth and efficiency, better distribution of opportunities, and larger possibilities for the pursuit of happiness. But what's really important about being free is that it's moral. Individual liberty and personal responsibility are right. Collective restraint and communal irresponsibility are wrong. The Road to Freedom is a road from wrong to right.”
John Mackey, Co-Founder and CEO, Whole Foods Markets
Arthur Brooks has written an important and timely book that shows how America became a prosperous and great nation through the free enterprise system of individual opportunity and entrepreneurship. He intelligently discusses the fundamental principles of ethics, fairness, helping the poor, providing a safety net, and the proper role of government in a free enterprise economy. In addition, he proposes policy reforms, which if our nation embraced them, would relatively quickly solve many of our nation's most serious challenges. I heartily recommend this book as an excellent road map to create a prosperous, socially just, and ethical society.”
Congressman Paul Ryan
Arthur Brooks knows, as America's Founders knew, that free enterprise underpins the moral case for human freedom. Economic freedom produces unimaginable material prosperity, but it's also the only economic form that encourages individuals to freely pursue their destinies, develop the character of self-responsibility, and strengthen communities. Brooks eloquently confronts the growing threat to economic freedom and human fulfillment and describes the fundamental choices Americans must make to get back on the right road.”
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In an easy-to-read 174 pages (plus notes and index), Arthur Brooks calmly lays out the moral and economic case for limited government, thoughtful taxation, and true neighborliness. He is president of the American Enterprise Institute, so he brings some conservative spice to our current economic pickle.
Brooks lays out the facts, with well-researched examples to prove his points. He finishes up with some reasonable policy proposals straight out of the Free Marketer's handbook, such as means-testing for Social Security or lower taxes on investments.
This book is non-partisan in a good sense, namely that it shows how we've all--left and right alike--stood by as our culture dissolved around us. His advice, if followed, would make life better for people, and would also make us better people. And this last point is the key to the book, namely that economics is not just another
social science, it is a moral enterprise.
Like a medieval apologist, Brooks defends the faith. In fact, he follows the general form of inquiry used by Thomas Aquinas and other defenders of the faith: begin with a list of objections, state the principle(s) involved, then answer the objections. A reasonable opponent of free markets might argue that such trade arrangements are
at best amoral and very often immoral. Further, free markets are unfair. Finally, Good Samaritans have to clean up the wreckage caused by free markets.
Brooks contends that Earned Success is the main driver of true human happiness. The sad fates of many lottery winners demonstrates this point: we value what we earn more highly than we value a random gift. And the effort it takes to earn something makes us better, doesn't it? A properly-regulated free market, therefore, is fairer than a managed one, and it produces the wealth that Good Samaritans use. Thus the objections are countered effectively, and the case for free enterprise is made. Good work.
Unfortunately, this book will not get a serious public policy hearing anytime soon, and that's the problem with Brooks' approach. The best way to argue against the downward fiscal spiral we're in is calmly and reasonably,as Brooks does. Paul Ryan tried that method in the Vice Presidential debate late last fall, and was ridiculed by Vice President Biden, though Joe offered no coherent message of his own. That, sadly, is the state of the debate in 2013.
Like the patient who won't listen to the doctor, we've decided things are just fine the way they are.
So, read this book and put it away where you can find it in a few years, when the next bubble bursts. At that point, Arthur Brooks will look like a prophet. Perhaps, if we're lucky, the patient won't be so sick at that point that the cure will mean years of pain.
Once he gets into his recommendations for where the government should be involved are rather poor.
It seems to me, a libertarian, that this book should be very well liked by conservative readers.
If you are a democrat or independent and you are interested in why republicans think the way they do, then I suggest reading this book to understand why people are better off with less government. Even if you disagree, you will find value in this book.
If you are a libertarian, then understand that his argument is that righties should be making a moral case for freedom, not a case based solely on facts and statistics.
After which you will be inspired to read the book, where additional information fills in the complete picture! A truly great book! Thanks Arthur Brooks!