Print Media Arthur C. Brooks on the Battle Between Free Enterprise and Big Government


America faces a new culture war; a war between free enterprise and big government.

American Enterprise Institute President Arthur C. Brooks argues in his new book, The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future, that "most Americans don't see free enterprise as just an economic matter, they see it as kind of a lifestyle issue, they see it as the bedrock of American culture and that's about 70 percent of the population."

Brooks sat down with Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie to discuss the best way for free enterprise proponents to "stop losing arguments," as well as Brooks' career as a professional French horn player, and his love for Bach and Anton Bruckner.

Approximately 5 minutes.  Shot by Meredith Bragg, Josh Swain and Dan Hayes. Edited by Swain.

This version is an abridged. For the full length, wide ranging interview please click here. (Approximately 51 minutes.) 

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  1. America faces a new culture war; a war between free enterprise and big government.

    And guess who’s already losing?

  2. Brooks is full of shit (although Bruckner is a seriously great composer – his 7th is Tower of Power great in its horn section).

    Liberals like Buffett, Gates, Woz, Jobs, Soros, Page, Allen, Ellison, etc – don’t want INCOME EQUALITY.

    They (we) want a system that rewards and nourishes genius inside a regulatory system that protects intellectual capital!

    We need a few fucking Big Government regulations to do that!

    Once again – the Cro-Magnon NO Regulation school-boy libertarians don’t understand true entrepreneurs!

    1. Yes, it’s no small secret that massive corporations favor systems under which they can wield their influence to gain legislative favors in order to destroy competition. I had no idea that liberals were such corporate apologists. By the way, this type of morality and ideology (fairness!, equality!, redistribution!) stems from the Paleolithic Era when things were much scarcer b/c our productivity was so much lower. The no-regulation philosophy is a much more modern phenomenon. We’ve thrown religion off our backs (at least in some parts of the world). Gov’t is only a matter of time.

      Oops, I fed the troll.

      1. Actually, the Supreme Court ruling on campaign donations was something that the Obama administration was vehemently against, and libertarians were vehemently for.

        1. Yes, it’s a matter of freedom of speech (you know, groups have rights, too, unless you believe news corporations shouldn’t endorse candidates or report on campaigns), but we are also for getting rid of taxation, which would kill lobbyism overnight.

          1. “but we are also for getting rid of taxation”

            Thank you for your honesty.

            Enjoy your 1% of the vote.

            1. I don’t vote to steal from myself and limit my own liberties. That would be sado-masochistic and idiotic. Enjoy your brainless, mindless, blissful state of ignorance and serfdom.

            2. Enjoy your 99% of stupidity.

    2. These guys are 0.00001% of voters, how is Brooks wrong?

      1. Because you fucking conservo/libertarians are in the MINORITY of capitalists!

        If you ARE a capitalist — I suspect you play video games in your parents basement all day.

        1. Actually, minarchists are the majority of libertarians out there. Believe me, it’s tough being an anarcho-capitalist in a minarchist crowd that accepts the principle of violent expropriation of wealth for a few things but not others.

          1. It’s reciprocally annoying that us minarchists have to deal with anarchos who not only pull libertarianism to the most unelectable fringe, but also advocate a system that would result in informal government by mafia (with no rule of law or auspice of democracy) and leave individuals who can not defend or afford to have somebody else their rights open to oppression. There have been multiple moments in history where government have been rendered completely ineffective (for instance during a natural disaster or in Somalia) and those moments human nature has indicated that individuals will be far less respective of private property and the individual rights of others without a formalized enforcement mechanism to defend individual rights.

            In other words, “anarchocapitalism” can’t exist outside of a small scale in the same fashion as anarchocommunism, where all participants mutually agree to follow the conditions of the voluntary community via contract. If implemented on a larger scale, anarchism would NOT maximize liberty for all.

        2. shrike|7.26.10 @ 5:23PM|#
          “If you ARE a capitalist — I suspect you play video games in your parents basement all day.”

          I’d suspect you’re an ignoramus, and I have a lot more evidence for my presumption.
          Got any for yours? Didn’t think so.

    3. shrike|7.26.10 @ 4:13PM|#
      “They (we) want a system that rewards and nourishes genius inside a regulatory system that protects intellectual capital!
      We need a few fucking Big Government regulations to do that!”

      You bet! Why, only a couple of your fantasies would yield unicorns and ponies in a minute, right?
      BTW, Bruckner sucks.
      Oh, and Micky D has “Meal Deals” (why not feed the ignramuses?)

    4. You’re a fucking liar, shrike. You want equality of outcome, plain and simple, all the while knowing it is impossible.

  3. I’m not sure that redistribution versus free enterprise as a moral argument is a winning one either. I am consistently stunned by the people who either cannot understand my viewpoint that government is force and thus government redistribution is theft, or fail to see the difference between private charity and forcing wealthy individuals into “charity” because “they should be doing that anyways because of their good fortune”.

    Also, the difference between fostering enterprise versus strangling it with regulation, redistribution schemes, and ultimately plunder is not merely a quarter percent less GDP growth. Hell, if all it cost to make the lowest tenth of society more comfortable was .25% GDP, I would probably agree with it. The cost is far greater than that because the safety nets also create moral hazard, plunder for special interests, confused and contradictory incentive structures, and diversion of effort from productive pursuits, producing a greater destruction of wealth than just the cost of providing the benefits.

    1. They can’t understand your point of view because they still believe in the mythical social contract, which means they haven’t read any Lysander Spooner. They worship the founders, not even realizing that most of them also were anti-business, etc. They also cannot and will not answer how they plan to constrain gov’t when it has a monopoly on violence and stealing.

      1. To concede that taxation is wealth and that a large cooperative society is impossible because there is no legitimate monopoly on force and no taxation is to concede fairy tales. What’s the point in believing this stuff? Your first moral principles are every bit as arbitrary as ones coming from a social contract perspective, just infinitely less useful.

        1. taxation is theft*

          1. You support institutionalized theft and murder. I do not. Nothing arbitrary there. Once upon a time, separating the state from religion was a fairytale, as was separating from royal dynasties. And so it will go with your “cooperative” society in which everyone is forced by gunpoint to give up their wealth or else. Yes, that’s very cooperative.

            You support regulating gay marriage, the death penalty, the Iraq War, etc. You also support a failing school system, retirement system, health care system. Everywhere you look, fail, fail, fail. These are all results of your cooperative society. Oh, the benefits of civilization!

            1. How are public school, social safety nets for the elderly, and socialized healthcare all failures? They’ve worked better than the private sector by any measurement, and as long as the plutocrats keep their grubby hands off things they can work in perpetuity.

              I do not support “institutionalized theft and murder.” Theft and murder should be punished wherever they occur. But taxation isn’t theft and no amount of question begging on your part will convince me otherwise, because it’s absurd to believe that all humans who’ve ever lived in a civilization are the victims of theft. IMO wanting to live off the bounty of your country without paying your part is more like theft. The IRS agrees with me.

              1. Yes, if we just had better kings and no fat cats, everything would finally work. Searching for that golden middle is utopia. By the way, it’s amusing to me that your system is the very system that creates your “plutocrats”. You inflate, borrow, spend, and regulate free markets to death, thus favoring massive corporations by killing competition. Your precious social systems can’t even work without your aristocracy of monetarists.

                Yes, not paying the Mafia for its “protection” is stealing from it. It never ceases to amaze me the depravity into which apologists for massive corporations and the state sink.

                Your system was also responsible for the deaths of over 120 million people in the 20th Century, oh, and still counting. That’s a hell of a tradition on your side, but I guess in your opinion centralized killing is preferable to decentralized killing. Can’t trust those plebeians. But wait, I trust them to vote in really smart people even though I think the average human is an idiot. Brilliant! I also trust no human, except bureaucrats. Brilliant!

                1. Sooner what you fail to realize is that without government you WILL be paying various mafiosi for services you will not have a vote on. There will be someone to fill the power vacuum. Democratic government is the best system we’ve invented because it gives the people an equal say in matters.

                  1. Nope, mafiosi are a result of regulation, which pushes them into the black market.

                    Just ask those people under 18 how they feel about their say. Or maybe the poor people who can’t influence elections the way the rich do. Damn, did I just out demagogue and populist you?

                    1. Sorry, Sooner, but for once in Tony’s life he is totally correct. While the mafia does indeed benefit from black markets created by illegality of various victimless crimes, in a society with no formalized infrastructure to protect liberty, extortion and “enforcement” via hit would be the new de facto system of government. People would satiate the mafia to protect their own skin, even if they have little say over its operations, and the only alternative would be for alternative, voluntarily funded “good” mafias to rise up in rebellion to amass the force necessary to bring the bad one down. However, even these “good” mafias would likely become addicted to power and control and probably end up no better than the one before. See also: the French Revolution. This perpetual state of local civil war would end up violating far more rights than a miniarchist government targeted explictly to protect individual rights and uphold the peace, and no more. Libertarians should be devoted to maximizing liberty, which is not always the same thing as minimizing government.

                2. “The IRS agrees with me.” This might be the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read, as if that is an endorsement.

                  “Yes, the Gestapo, Stasi, and KGB agree with me.”

                  1. Nope, mafiosi are a result of regulation, which pushes them into the black market.

                    The black market being economic activity outside of state regulations and taxes!

                    Sorry if you think the IRS is the moral equivalent of those orgs, you’re just not thinking clearly.

                    1. Tony|7.26.10 @ 7:33PM|#
                      “The black market being economic activity outside of state regulations and taxes!…”
                      Oh, brain-dead alert! Like to try that again, or get ‘corrected’ by someone else?

                    2. Ron L that is the definition of a black market. Sooner just wants everything to be in a black market.

              2. Tony|7.26.10 @ 5:34PM|#
                “How are public school, social safety nets for the elderly, and socialized healthcare all failures?”
                Well, because they are failures

                “They’ve worked better than the private sector by any measurement,”
                Cite, please

                “and as long as the plutocrats keep their grubby hands off things they can work in perpetuity.”
                And as long as unicorns are….

                1. “Cite, please”

                  The lack of private sector universal education, universal healthcare, or universal retirement security anywhere in the world.

                  1. Why is “universal” superior to “private”? Sounds kind of elitist.

          2. You could in theory have a society where public goods are paid for, even unequally, in a consensual manner. Though it would require that people be compelled to honor contracts they make. But at least they would have more control than they do now.

      2. I’ve also found that suggesting someone read a book or author to gain greater understanding of a subject area is met with scorn and anger. I don’t understand why someone would want to ignore thought they might disagree with. If they’re so sure of their correctness they should be eager for more faulty arguments that disprove the competition and enhance their own position.

    2. I think an important point to bring up is that the first tax credit was the tax credit to charitable donations, because in WWI when the top tax bracket was 70%, the wealthy stopped giving to charity and the universities, which at that time depended on charity and tuitions were in a percarious position. The people who give the most of their income are the rich followed by the poor who give to facilities they use. The middle class gives the least to charity.

      1. That’s to be expected. If you’re rich, then you don’t really need all that money, so you give to charity. If you’re poor, it’s not likely you could afford anything that can get you into the middle class, so you give the money away.

  4. My vote goes to Sibelius.

    1. I love that Nor/Scan music too – check out Carl Neilsen and the ‘Inextinguishable’.

      1. You also claim to be a fan of Ayn Rand, yet you come out swinging against Brooks’ after he argued that we should be highlighting the moral superiority of capitalism rather than just the economics which is one of the main points Rand pushed.

        Before I go check out this music that you have recommended, do you just use this band to distinguish yourself from other Euro-rock fans and hurl shit at them while having never really listened to it? Or is this music you have actually listened to?

  5. 70/30 would indicate winning.

    The problem is that most people are practical, not theoretical. These people call a spade a spade, and demand accountability.

    For example, no one cares about the theoretical notion that the government had a cap of $75 on oil spills. If BP was influenced by the $75, that just makes them look worse in the eyes of the populace, rather than it being an honest mistake. This just makes the general populace more suspicious of free enterprise, that they are willing to sacrifice safety if it saves them a few bucks, and more regulation is the answer.

    You did your best with the general population when you argued against the bailouts, because people saw Wall Street as the bad guy and themselves as the victims. Similarly, you do your best with the population when you argue against taxes. But then you get ridiculous and defend a corporation from the indefensible, and you lose your 70/30 advantage.

    1. I think most libertarians would agree there should not be a limit on punitive damages for oil companies, as it incentivizes irresponsible risk.

      1. It’s not free enterprise to cap liability. That is corporatism/socialism, socializing the risk of private businesses. It is also not free enterprise to give royalty incentives to corporations so that they drill in deeper waters, all so environmentalists don’t have those pesky eyesores on the coastlines.

        BP should pay full damages and suffer the consequences of the real market. Unfortunately, they’re too tight with the gov’t for that to ever happen.

        1. We agree there – I said the same on Moody’s and Standard & Poors.

          1. On the note of S&P and Moody’s (and Fitch), the “please don’t use our ratings” story is pretty amusing.

            Once the possibility of litigation is raised for investors burned by AAA ratings, Fitch has started arguing that it shouldn’t be considered an “expert” under the law, “since ratings are inherently forward-looking and embody assumptions and predictions about future events that by their nature cannot be verified as facts.” Right, and ratings are supposed to reflect that uncertainty. Next.

        2. “BP should pay full damages and suffer the consequences of the real market. Unfortunately, they’re too tight with the gov’t for that to ever happen.”

          Obama was savvy enough to make it look like that won’t happen, with the $20 compensation fund.

          If there are so many problems with the government, why choose the ones that don’t have much support? No one wants eyesores on their coastlines, and not long ago people were being fed that if we don’t drill in deep waters, then China will. Maybe the government was wrong for allowing or incentivizing deep water drilling, but it’s hardly a slam dunk: what’s slam dunk is BP’s cost-cutting.

          1. The fund was a major coup that is underappreciated. Exxon has cleaned up its act in response to the Exxon Valdez spill (BP has by far the most citations for violating standards, and Exxon has close to none) but they’ve managed to avoid most liability costs over many years of litigation.

            Drill, baby, drill is based on a lie. Any oil drilled here goes on the global market, it doesn’t benefit the American economy any more than the product of Arab petro-dictatorships do.

            1. Drill baby drill is based on bad logic but oil exploration is not a bad thing for the economy. It creates jobs, encorages local development, and helps reduce fuel costs. We shouldn’t drill to stop meny going to Dubai but we should drill so that money goes to American communities too.

              1. We don’t have enough oil to significantly affect the market price, and we could just as easily (much more easily actually) create jobs in clean energy. It’s a mistake for a state to be entirely dependent on one industry, especially one that will have to be replaced in the near to long-term.

                1. Fine, let the alternative sources happen. Research and development is a good thing.

                  But drill for the fucking oil in the meantime. It isn’t going to kill us, despite what the hand-wringers believe.

          2. I don’t know that one oil drill here and there is such an eysore. Some people may like the sight of a rig, but when did proprety rights mean that my right to a pristine view from my house on my peice of land means I can tell may neighbor what to do on his?

            1. “but when did proprety rights mean that my right to a pristine view from my house on my peice of land means I can tell may neighbor what to do on his?”

              It’s always been this way. Legally it’s called restricted convenant, but the laymen term is deed restrictions. For example you’re probably not allowed to paint your house orange. Historically it’s been used to prevent minorities from home ownership, as people argued that having a minority neighbor would decrease property values. Now, it’s used to keep people from painting their house orange, and to mow their lawn on time, and the like.

  6. now now we can all settle this like sexy teenagers umm(family guy refernce)

  7. “Free Enterprise?” What planet do you live on? There’s no free enterprise in this country because big corporations have a monopoly on nearly everything.

    1. So does government. Why aren’t you willing to be honest, Grouse?

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