WSJ Weekend Interview with Arthur Brooks

I discovered Arthur Brooks back when he came out with his book, “Who Really Cares?” His latest book, The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America*,
will be out next week. It looks like an interesting read.

Mr. Brooks was interviewed in this week’s WSJ. I liked what he had to say. Here are a couple of quotes for those of you who are not WSJ subscribers:

When he was a child, Mr. Brooks notes, one of four people lived on less than a dollar a day. Today, though we still have far to go, the advance of trade and a globalized economy has shrunk that figure to one of 20.

The liberation of hundreds of millions from desperate poverty ranks among the greatest success stories in history. But it’s a story that remains largely untold and mostly unheralded. In his new book, “The Conservative Heart,” Mr. Brooks puts it this way: “Capitalism has saved a couple of billion people and we have treated this miracle like a state secret.”

AEI aims to change that. “We should be shouting it from the rooftops,” he says. “If Beethoven were alive today, he would dedicate the ‘Ode to Joy’ to this miracle. In the very first verse of that poem—which inspired Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—we hear, ‘Beggars become Princes’ brothers’! If this is so, it is because of free enterprise.”

Few today would deny the market’s success in literally producing the goods. For some, however, this is a paradox. It’s a paradox because, in this way of thinking, socialism has the higher ideals but fails in practice, while capitalism succeeds in practice even though it is based on greed.

Mr. Brooks believes these critics are limited by materialistic assumptions about wealth and its production. Capitalism, he insists, succeeds not because it is based on greed, but because the freedom to trade and do business with others is in harmony with our God-given nature. So he has no patience for those who fear the moral argument.

I wish we could get back to a country that emphasizes education and concentrates on teaching people HOW to succeed instead of constantly telling them that they can’t succeed without the government’s (the taxpayers) help. The pessimism is rampant, thanks to social media. Flip through a Flipboard magazine on the topic of Capitalism or Income and you’ll see what I mean.

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