“Free enterprise is not simply an economic alternative. Free enterprise is about who we are as a people and who we want to be. It embodies our power as individuals and our independence from the government. In short, enterprise is an act of self-expression—a declaration of what we truly value—and a social issue for Americans.” - Arthur C. Brooks, The Battle
As part of the American Free Enterprise. Dream Big. campaign, the National Chamber Foundation (NCF) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted AEI’s president, Arthur C. Brooks, to discuss his newly released book, The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future. He said that the data support the general consensus that Americans desire a free market system. Brooks extensively combed through nationwide polls to find out what Americans thought about the free enterprise system before he began writing. “In March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked a large group of Americans in an anonymous survey, ‘Do you believe the free market system is the best system for America’s economy despite its ups and downs?’ The answer, in March 2009, the darkest time of the recession, was ‘Yes’ by 70%.” One of the key points in The Battle is the difference between earned success and earned capital. Brooks defines earned success as the creation of value in people’s lives or in the lives of others. The idea that happiness is defined by how much money one makes is false. As America promotes and expands the notion of the entrepreneurial spirit, the argument of earned success is imperative. Key findings on this topic include the following:
- Income equality does not cause happiness, rather, a lack of earned success causes unhappiness.
- Income redistribution will not improve America’s level of flourishing.
- Any system that redistributes and spreads profits around will not change the levels of earned success and, as such, will lower the level of entrepreneurial impotence.
“Free enterprise is the system that matches skills of passions. Free enterprise is the system that rewards and makes people face consequences of their actions and, as such, is the only system that allows people to earn their success.” In closing, Brooks offered three fundamental takeaways:
- Free enterprise is a mainstream idea. These mainstream ideas that AEI and the U.S. Chamber represent are favored by 70% of Americans.
- Americans care about free enterprise because they sense it is more about a moral imperative than a dollar amount. Americans see the free market system as a means to expand creatively as entrepreneurs.
- The free enterprise system is the fairest system. It rewards hard work, merit, and excellence while penalizing free riding, corruption, and laziness.
Read his blog posting:
Public Support for Free Enterprise is Overwhelming by Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute Americans prefer capitalism over socialism. A January 2010 Gallup poll surveyed respondents about their views on the two systems. It found that 61 percent of Americans hold a positive view of capitalism while about the same percentage have a negative view of socialism. The older the age group, the more negative the view of socialism…read more.