The road to freedom: How to win the fight for free enterprise

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Post-Event Summary
What makes America an exceptional country? In his Wednesday evening Bradley Lecture, AEI president Arthur Brooks pointed to America's dedication to free enterprise, particularly its emphasis on earned success, meritocratic fairness and opportunity for the poor and disadvantaged. Brooks warned, however, that American free enterprise is slowly disappearing before our eyes -- and this is the fault not of the ideas, but of their defenders' arguments.

Brooks argued that, though 70 percent of Americans claim to love free enterprise, they have been too willing to compromise its principles on individual policy issues, leading to a gradual but significant decline in America's commitment to free enterprise and limited government. This is largely because free enterprise advocates have focused on data-driven arguments about efficiency to the exclusion of making the moral case for free enterprise. And only moral arguments, Brooks averred, can change minds and win the fight.

Drawing on brain science, social psychology, and econometric analysis, Brooks argued that free enterprise advocates may get only 30 seconds to make a moral case, and he stressed the need to seize opportunities to educate people about why free enterprise matters not just materially, but morally. Until free enterprise is defended in explicitly moral terms in ways that Americans can truly appreciate, the country will continue its slide into European-style social democracy.
 
Event Description
American policy is at a crossroads. Though 70 percent of Americans claim to love American free enterprise, the size and scope of government continues to grow. This is not a result of Americans loving free enterprise nostalgically, as the Left asserts. Rather, America’s slide toward statism is a direct result of limited government advocates failing to make the moral case for free enterprise, leaving citizens with a choice between materialistic, data-driven arguments from the Right and the morally based but failing policies of the Left. Arthur Brooks will argue that humans are inherently moral beings and that the free enterprise system, more than any other system, aligns with the morals and values all of us hold dear.

This Bradley Lecture is based on Brooks’s new book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, May 2012).

 

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About the Author

 

Arthur C.
Brooks
  • Arthur C. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise at AEI.

    Immediately before joining AEI, Brooks was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government at Syracuse University, where he taught economics and social entrepreneurship.

    Brooks is the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles on topics including the role of government, fairness, economic opportunity, happiness, and the morality of free enterprise. His latest book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (2012) was a New York Times bestseller. Among his earlier books are “Gross National Happiness” (2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (2008), and “Who Really Cares” (2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a classical musician in the United States and Spain.

    Brooks is a frequent guest on national television and radio talk shows and has been published widely in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

    Brooks has a Ph.D. and an M.Phil. in policy analysis from RAND Graduate School. He also holds an M.A. in economics from Florida Atlantic University and a B.A. in economics from Thomas Edison State College.


    Follow Arthur Brooks on Twitter.

  • Assistant Info

    Name: Danielle Duncan
    Phone: 202.419.5213
    Email: danielle.duncan@aei.org

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