Tag Archives: Arthur Brooks

WORLD magazine’s book of the year is “The Battle”

The article from WORLD magazine is here. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)

The book is called “The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future”.


The Battle then goes beyond money to note that, “The main issue in the new American culture struggle between free enterprise and statism is not material riches—it is human flourishing.” Brooks notes that “the 30 percent coalition charges the majority with money-grubbing selfishness” but is itself “fundamentally materialistic.” Leftists “believe that it should make no difference whether income comes from redistribution and government edict or from enterprise and excellence as judged by the free market. This is an ideology driven by raw materialism.”

Brooks emphasizes the differences in worldview: “In contrast, the 70 percent majority maintains a worldview that is primarily nonmaterialistic. It understands money as just a proxy measure of true prosperity and personal fulfillment. It emphasizes creativity, meaning, optimism, and control in one’s own life and seeks to escape from under the heavy hand of the state. . . . When we reduce the idea of work to nothing more than a means of economic support, we strip it of its transcendental meaning in our lives.” Brooks argues that productive work is crucial to happiness: “Americans prefer to find meaning in their jobs rather than through their after-work pursuits.”

[…]That leads to a political plank for the present: Since the 30 percenters “have concealed the central pillar of their ideology—income equality—under a misleading definition of fairness,” the rest of us should “expose this fact and reclaim the language of fairness for the free enterprise system.” It’s vital to make distinctions: “Legal equality, political equality, religious equality—almost all Americans would agree that these values are vital to our nation. But equality of income? That’s a fundamentally different kind of equality.” We want fair trials but not a right to be declared innocent. We want all people to have the right to vote but not “the right to see their chosen candidate elected to office.”

Brooks notes that the 30 percent coalition’s use of the word “fairness” is duplicitous: “It implies that equality of outcome is a core American principle, when in fact what Americans believe in is equality of opportunity and the potential to earn success.” He is right to insist that the 70 percent coalition cannot cede to the minority the fairness issue and merely argue for free enterprise on the basis of economic efficiency: “Fairness should not be a 30 percent trump card but rather their Achilles’ heel. Equality of income is not fair.” A fair system rewards hard work and excellent performance, and gives people on the bottom a chance to rise not by bringing down the top but by striving for excellence.

I heard Arthur Brooks being interviewed about the book on Dennis Prager’s show. And I read a chapter by Brooks in that “Indivisible” booklet put out by the Heritage Foundation. So he is a recognized conservative.

Muddling linked to some must-read and must-listen interviews that I will be looking at tonight (Monday). If they are good, I’ll link to them for Tuesday.

Fiscal and social conservatives unite in new free e-book “Indivisible”

There’s a new book that just came out from the Heritage Foundation, my favorite think tank.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction by Jay Richards:

To listen to media and political strategists is to get the impression that American public life is a checklist of issues. Some are known as “social” issues (marriage, family) and some are known as “economic” (international trade, wages). There may be some good reasons for this distinction, but when we itemize and divide these topics into two separate categories, we fail to convey the underlying unity of the principles behind the American Experiment in ordered liberty. In reality, the two groups of issues are interdependent. For instance, a free economy cannot long exist in a culture that is hostile to it. The success of free market economic policies depends on important cultural and moral factors such as thrift, delayed gratification, hard work, and respect for the property of others. A virtuous and responsible populace derives, in turn, from strong families, churches, and other civil institutions.

Conversely, economic issues have a strong influence on culture and the institutions of civil society. High taxes, for example, put pressure on families and force parents to spend more time in the workforce, leaving less time to devote to their spouses and children. When government expands spending and control in education, it crowds out parental responsibility; when it expands its role in providing social welfare services, it tends to erode a sense of responsibility among churches and other groups doing good work to help neighbors in need.

The connections are such that the individual issues rarely fit neatly and exclusively into one set or the other. An “economic” issue is rarely exclusively about economics. For instance, poverty in America is often as much a moral and cultural problem as an economic problem. Reducing such poverty depends on civil institutions that inculcate virtue and responsibility as well as policies that promote economic freedom and discourage dependency. Most poverty among children in America is not caused by a lack of jobs but rather by factors such as family breakdown, negligent or absentee parents, substance abuse, or other social pathologies. To consider American poverty in strictly economic terms is to fail to see the full scale of issues involved in this problem.

[…]The following essays are intended as a concise exploration of the link between liberty and human dignity and of the policy issues that tend to cluster around these two themes in American life. This collection brings together a number of well-known social and economic conservatives. To encourage cross-fertilization of their ideas, those known as social conservatives have written on themes normally identified with economic conservatives, and vice versa. The authors highlight economic arguments for issues typically categorized as “social” and social/moral arguments for “economic” issues. Each author focuses on a single topic, briefly summarized below, that is associated with either social or economic conservatives or, in some cases, both.

That’s also one of the main purposes of my blog, to show how fiscal conservatives and social conservatives depend on each other.

Here are the essays and authors:

  • Civil Society: Moral Arguments for Limiting Government – Joseph G. Lehman
  • Rule of Law: Economic Prosperity Requires the Rule of Law – J. Kenneth Blackwell
  • Life: The Cause of Life Can’t be Severed from the Cause of Freedom – Representative Paul Ryan
  • Free Exchange: Morality and Economic Freedom – Jim Daly with Glenn T. Stanton
  • Marriage: The Limited-Government Case for Marriage – Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.
  • Profit: Prophets and Profit – Marvin Olasky, Ph.D.
  • Family: Washington’s War on the Family and Free Enterprise – Stephen Moore
  • Wages: The Value of Wages – Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
  • Religion:  Why Faith Is a Good Investment – Arthur Brooks, Ph.D., and Robin Currie
  • International Trade: Why Trade Works for Family, Community, and Sovereignty – Ramesh Ponnuru
  • Culture: A Culture of Responsibility – Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
  • Property: Property and the Pursuit of Happiness – Representative Michele Bachmann
  • Environment: Conserving Creation – Tony Perkins
  • Education: A Unified Vision for Education Choice – Randy Hicks

Seeing the names of people paired with these topics just blows my mind. It would be as though William Lane Craig were suddenly to write a book defending free market capitalism or the war on Islamic terrorism. It’s just WEIRD. And you’ll notice that many of the Wintery Knight’s favorite people are in there; Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, Jennifer Roback Morse.  I also like Stephen Moore’s writing a lot.

The entire book is available for free as a PDF download, or you can order it from the Heritage Foundation. I ordered 10 copies of everything at the store, because I wanted a bunch to give away to all my friends. I think this is the perfect gift to give someone who doesn’t see the relevance of public policy to Christianity, marriage and parenting. There is no such thing as an informed Christian who is fiscally liberally or socially liberal.

Oh, and by the way: Ryan/Bachmann 2012 for the win!