In case you missed it: two opinion pieces from American Enterprise Institute (AEI) president Arthur Brooks:
In the Wall Street Journal piece “America is Already Europe,” Arthur Brooks writes that America is already a European-style social democracy -- from the percentage of GDP devoted to government, to the extent of regulatory burden on businesses:
- Government spending: In 1938, total government spending in the U.S. was 15% of the GDP. By 2010, it was 36% (very close to Spain’s).
- The U.S. debt: U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is 103%; Spain – a country governed by a socialist workers party for most of the past 30 years – has a 68% debt-to-GDP ratio.
- Most importantly, while a majority of Americans are neither leftists nor corporate cronies, they aren't paying much attention to the political system: According to Gallup, 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed. Dissatisfaction has never been higher. Even so, only 25% of American adults can correctly name both of their U.S. senators, and 51% can name neither.
In the New York Times piece “Why Conservatives are happier than liberals,” Arthur Brooks writes that, for decades, data has shown that conservatives are happier than liberals. The question is not whether it’s true but why:
- The marriage/religion explanation: Fifty-two percent of married, religious, politically conservative people (with kids) are very happy — versus only 14 percent of single, secular, liberal people without kids. 53% of conservatives are married versus 33% of liberals according to the 2004 General Social Survey. Religious participants are nearly twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives as are secularists (43 percent to 23 percent).
- The belief in Americans’ ability to get ahead on the basis of achievement vs. doubt whether individuals can climb without government help: Over 90% of conservatives agree with the statement that “While people may begin with different opportunities, hard work and perseverance can usually overcome those disadvantages.” Liberals — even upper-income liberals — are a third less likely to say this.
- The moderate/extreme explanation: Correcting for income, education, age, race, family situation and religion, the happiest Americans are those who say they are either “extremely conservative” (48 percent very happy) or “extremely liberal” (35 percent). Only 26% of “Moderates” say that they are happy.
AEI president Arthur Brooks is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Road to Freedom. A new whiteboard video highlights three main points from the book about the moral argument for free enterprise.
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