On Wednesday, June 23, American Enterprise Institute’s president and social scientist Arthur Brooks spoke to the Illinois Policy Institute and 75 guests about his latest book, The Battle, and the new, unfolding culture war, which pits the free enterprise system against social democracy and big government.
Since the election of President Obama, we have witnessed the expansion of government, the discouragement of entrepreneurship, and exaltation of the welfare, social democratic state, argued Brooks. In 1950, 25% of GDP was government spending. Today, 45% of GDP is government spending. This has bread a new culture war around one question, “Has free enterprise seen its last day in America?”
Arthur Brooks’s answer Wednesday night was a resounding no. Brooks came to Chicago armed with an arsenal of facts and figures to assert that free enterprise is not only conservative or Republican, but mainstream American. America is a 70/30 nation with 70 percent of Americans supportive of free enterprise. Furthermore, preserving the free enterprise system is not only an economic, but also a moral imperative. Finally, Brooks reminded us that the free enterprise system is the fairest system available.
Among the various subjects Brooks discussed was the heated topic of income redistribution. Big government liberals and progressives want us to believe that income redistribution, spreading the wealth, makes more people happier. Brooks discredited the idea that money and greater incomes bring happiness. In fact, happiness is derived from earned success, argued Brooks, and earned success is unique to the free enterprise system. The “pursuit of happiness” requires a free enterprise system. The Founders recognized that and so too should our current government.
To purchase The Battle, or to see the books of our other speakers, visit our Liberty Library.
One of our Liberty Leaders, Nancy Thorner, also wrote a detailed account of the event for Illinois Review, which you can read here.