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The Battle

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The Battle

How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future

Basic Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A metaphorical call to arms in defense of free enterprise

Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Visionary
  • Background


Nothing less than the future of America is at stake, says conservative public policy expert Arthur C. Brooks in his dissection of the nation’s political and economic scene. Relying on surveys, polls and statistics (some almost up-to-the-minute, some quite dated), he posits a split in the U.S. between a 70% majority that supports free enterprise, limited government and less taxes, and a 30% minority made up of the “intellectual upper class” and its followers who cheer “social democracy,” big government and soaking the rich. Brooks, head of the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the U.S.’s historical love of free enterprise. Along with the expected critiques of the liberal media and academia, he makes an accessible case that free enterprise’s supporters should focus less on money and materialism as the reasons for their advocacy, and more on the morality and values of personal achievement and success in an opportunity-driven economy. getAbstract suggests his book – an extended editorial statement – to all sides of the political spectrum whether it confirms your opinions or acts a basis for worthwhile debate.


“Culture War”

In the aftermath of the 2008-2009 economic crisis, the U.S. is at a crossroads. It must choose between “two competing visions of America’s future.” One is based on the free enterprise system, which relies on entrepreneurial spirit, ensures individual freedom and keeps government at bay. The other represents the creeping “European statism” of bloated government, nationalized companies and “increasing income distribution.” The two systems cannot coexist; one side must emerge victorious in this new culture war.

From the time of the Founding Fathers, Americans have independently directed their “economic lives” through free enterprise. The system “respects private property, encourages industry, celebrates liberty, limits government and creates individual opportunity.” People can work without constraints, reaping “rewards and consequences, positive and negative.” This sets Americans apart from Europeans and their “social democracy”: Europeans are less likely than Americans to value competition and to relate their success to their own labors. For example, though Germans are known to work hard, only 20% of Germans say they are likely to teach this value to their...

About the Author

Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, has written eight books, including Gross National Happiness and Who Really Cares.

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