Steve Forbes has written a fascinating new book, How Capitalism Will Save Us — a must read for anyone interested in the battle in America right now between the forces of freedom and free markets and the forces of massively bigger government, crushing debt, suffocating tax rates and sheer European-style socialism. It’s an especially important book for high school and college students, and should be required reading for home-schoolers studying history and economics.
Now, an as evangelical Christian who believes only faith in Jesus Christ will truly save us, I’m not a big fan of the title (especially at Christmas!). But I know what Steve means and I wholeheartedly agree with the case he argues so well and with such experience.
Steve is right: the free market system is under relentless and aggressive assault from would-be socialists. The Washington politicians are taxing, spending and regulating everything in sight, while moving the country steadily towards nationalization of the health care industry, the banks and the auto industry. Meanwhile, the media (and the French) are making the case that free markets are a thing of the past. But who’s out there really defending and advancing the cause of freedom, the correct way to understand the current crisis, and solutions that will really work?
- “Laissez-faire capitalism should be as dead as Soviet communism.” — Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post
- “Laissez-faire is finished. The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished.” — French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
- “The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is claiming another casualty: American-style capitalism.” — Washington Post
As Steve and his co-author Elizabeth Ames point out, the enormous and very serious economic crisis Americans and the rest of the world are facing right now aren’t because people have too much freedom. The problem is that too many crooked, greedy, shameless politicians and business people have tried to game the system to benefit themselves, and the system is choking as a result.
“Democratic capitalism is the world’s greatest economic success story,” Steve writes. “No other system has improved the lives of so many people. The turmoil of the past few years by no means mitigates the explosion of prosperity that has taken place since the early 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan enacted promarket reforms to free the economy from the Carter-Nixon stagnation of the 1970s. Those reforms — lowering tax rates and loosening regulations — unleashed job-creating capital. The result: a roaring economy that produced a flood of innovations — from personal computers and cellular phones to the Internet.” Until the credit crisis, Steve notes, “tens of millions of people a year worldwide were joining the middle class. Between 2003 and 2007, the growth of the American economy alone exceeded the size of the entire Chinese economy.”
What’s more, Steve notes, “along with bringing prosperity to millions, democratic capitalism has undermined political tyranny and promoted democracy and peace between nations of the world. It is, without doubt, the world’s most moral system. This last statement may raise eyebrows in an era that has seen scandals from the collapse of Enron to the devastation of personal and charitable wealth caused by Bernie Madoff. That is not to minimize the crimes of individuals like Madoff and others or the damage they cause….[But] the off-the-charts criminality of individuals like Madoff no more reflects the immorality of free enterprise than the murderous crimes of a Ted Bundy or a Jeffrey Dahmer reflect a fundamental breakdown of democratic society.”
This is not a book about theory. It’s not an academic tome. It’s a book about a battle between two fundamentally different world views and why this battle matters. It’s chock full of fascinating quotes, intriguing anecdotes, and compelling data I simply didn’t know. Steve Forbes may or may not run for president again. But someone ought to pick up his mantra and run on it, if he does not. Why? Because ideas matter. We are engaged in a titanic war of ideas with the Left over the future of America, and the future of freedom. Where are the leaders of the next pro-freedom Revolution?
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