Entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, and upward mobility: These traditions are at the heart of the free enterprise system, and have long been central to America's exceptional culture. In recent years, however, policymakers have dramatically weakened these traditions -- by exploding the size of government, propping up their corporate cronies, and trying to reorient our system from rewarding merit to redistributing wealth.
In The Road to Freedom, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur C. Brooks shows that this trend cannot be reversed through materialistic appeals about the economic efficiency of capitalism. Rather, free enterprise requires a moral defense rooted in the ideals of earned success, equality of opportunity, charity, and basic fairness. Brooks builds this defense and demonstrates how it is central to understanding the major policy issues facing America today.
The future of the free enterprise system has become a central issue in our national debate, and Brooks offers a practical manual for defending it over the coming years. Both a moral manifesto and a prescription for concrete policy changes, The Road to Freedom will help Americans in all walks of life translate the philosophy of free enterprise into action, to restore both our nation's greatness and our own well-being in the process.
American Enterprise Institute president Brooks (The Battle) weaves a paean to the free enterprise system, calling it more efficient than and morally superior to the alternatives, and uses shaky though well-documented generalizations and anecdotal evidence to justify his credo. He argues that the average person in 1800 had the standard of living of his Stone Age counterpart and that Americans are happiest working 50 59 hours per week at jobs that "the vast majority" like. Free enterprise, according to Brooks, offers superior opportunity for "what all people truly crave: earned success." In this sense, it eclipses both statism and the meretricious practice of corporate cronyism. Paradoxically, although Americans endorse the virtues of free enterprise and limited government, he writes, the bipartisan slide of recent decades toward big government has blinded us to the inroads of statism. Brooks seeks to defang the most rabid of partisan arguments ("Even hardline conservatives don't object to minimum basic protections for poor people") while asserting that the "safety net" has become too broad. Though Brooks aims to present arguments for policy reform, more specifics on how to break through the thickets along the way would have given this treatise more substance.