Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Scary Stats and Good Advice

From an Arthur Brooks editorial in the WSJ (who have obviously been stealing my material):

The scary stats --
Voices in the media, academia, and the government will dismiss this ethical populism as a fringe movement -- maybe even dangerous extremism. In truth, free markets, limited government, and entrepreneurship are still a majoritarian taste. In March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked people if we are better off "in a free market economy even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time." Fully 70% agreed, versus 20% who disagreed.

Free enterprise is culturally mainstream, for the moment. Asked in a Rasmussen poll conducted this month to choose the better system between capitalism and socialism, 13% of respondents over 40 chose socialism. For those under 30, this percentage rose to 33%. (Republicans were 11 times more likely to prefer capitalism than socialism; Democrats were almost evenly split between the two systems.)
So, clearly, the only solution is to kill everyone between 10 and 30, wait ten years for the females to mature, then get busy to help make up for the population dip. (I know a few middle-aged guys who will go for this idea.)

But, there is hope, because Mr. Brooks has been reading my blog for good advice:
Advocates of free enterprise must learn from the growing grass-roots protests, and make the moral case for freedom and entrepreneurship. They have to declare that it is a moral issue to confiscate more income from the minority simply because the government can. It's also a moral issue to lower the rewards for entrepreneurial success, and to spend what we don't have without regard for our children's future.

Enterprise defenders also have to define "fairness" as protecting merit and freedom. This is more intuitively appealing to Americans than anything involving forced redistribution. Take public attitudes toward the estate tax, which only a few (who leave estates in the millions of dollars) will ever pay, but which two-thirds of Americans believe is "not fair at all," according to a 2009 Harris poll. Millions of ordinary citizens believe it is unfair for the government to be predatory -- even if the prey are wealthy.
If true, and I'm inclined to be skeptical here, there may be hope for America yet. Otherwise, a lot more than just the 10-30 crowd are going to have to go.

1 comment:

VH said...

Great editorial by Brooks, as usual. However, the big government populists are ruling the roost and I see nothing but more government intervention in the private economy for the foreseeable future.

I certainly agree with him that free-market advocates must make their case loud, strong and now.