From Flat World To Free World
ALL
In Pursuit of Wealth: The Moral Case for Finance
by Yaron Brook | September 30, 2017
Inequality Doesn't Matter If We’re All Paid According to the Value We Create
by Don Watikins | October 18, 2016
Who Cares about Inequality?
by Don Watikins | April 28, 2016
Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
by Don Watkins | April 19, 2016
Economic Inequality Complaints Are Just A Cover For Anti-Rich Prejudice
by Don Watikins | April 14, 2016
Equality of Opportunity Doesn’t Exist in America — and That’s a Good Thing
by Don Watikins | April 06, 2016
Inherit The Wind . . . And Not Much Else
by Don Watikins | April 05, 2016
Equal is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
by Don Watkins | October 20, 2015
Religion in America
by The Editors | December 05, 2014
Religion vs. Freedom
by Onkar Ghate | December 03, 2014
Debate: “Inequality: Should We Care?”
by Yaron Brook | May 08, 2014
Economic Inequality: Who Cares?
by The Editors | March 25, 2014
Our Poverty Problem?
by Don Watkins | March 11, 2014
Is Inequality Fair?
by Yaron Brook | March 05, 2014
Government tries to do too much: Opposing view
by Don Watkins | January 26, 2014
“You didn’t build that,” conservative style
by Steve Simpson | December 09, 2013
Why Do 1.4 Million Americans Work At Walmart, With Many More Trying To?
by Doug Altner | November 27, 2013
Atlas Shrugged Is A Book About Pride In One’s Work, And The Success That Results
by Steve Simpson | November 08, 2013
Bernie Madoff, Steve Jobs, and Wall Street Greed
by Don Watkins | September 26, 2013
Justice Department should let US Airways & American Airlines merger proceed
by Tom Bowden | August 16, 2013
What Are The Search Results When You Google ‘Antitrust’?
by Tom Bowden | April 18, 2013
To Be Born Poor Doesn’t Mean You’ll Always Be Poor
by Yaron Brook | April 12, 2013
We Should Be Embarrassed by the Sequester Debate
by Yaron Brook | March 20, 2013
“Give Back” Is One of the World's Most Impoverishing Commands
by Yaron Brook | March 12, 2013
Capitalism in No Way Created Poverty, It Inherited It
by Yaron Brook | February 25, 2013
3 crucial lessons Ayn Rand can teach us today
by Yaron Brook | February 02, 2013
Capitalism without Guilt
by Yaron Brook | January 21, 2013
President Obama Duels With Ayn Rand Over What Makes America Great
by Don Watkins | October 29, 2012
Why Ayn Rand’s Absence From Last Thursday’s Debate Benefits Big Government
by Yaron Brook | October 15, 2012
The Virtue of Employee Layoffs
by Yaron Brook | September 06, 2012
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Paean to American Liberty
by Don Watkins | August 17, 2012
President Obama vs. My Grandfather
by Don Watkins | July 30, 2012
The Dog-Eat-Dog Welfare State Is Lose-Lose
by Don Watkins | July 12, 2012
Changing the Debate: How to Move from an Entitlement State to a Free Market
by Don Watkins | July 02, 2012
Private Equity Firms Want Acquisitions To Profit, Not Fold
by Doug Altner | June 05, 2012
Opposing view: Celebrate private equity
by Don Watkins | May 29, 2012
The “On Your Own” Economy
by Don Watkins | March 09, 2012
What's Really Wrong with Entitlements
by Don Watkins | February 21, 2012
Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand — Why Are You Still So Misunderstood?
by Don Watkins | February 02, 2012
America Before The Entitlement State
by Don Watkins | November 18, 2011
How Did Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged Predict an America Spinning Out of Control?
by Onkar Ghate | October 31, 2011
What We Owe Steve Jobs
by Don Watkins | October 06, 2011
What’s Missing From The Budget Debate
by Don Watkins | July 12, 2011
Does America Need Ayn Rand or Jesus?
by Onkar Ghate | June 29, 2011
When It Comes to Wealth Creation, There Is No Pie
by Yaron Brook | June 14, 2011
It’s Time To Kill The “Robin Hood” Myth
by Yaron Brook | May 06, 2011
Using Ayn Rand's Values to Create Competitive Advantage in Business
by John Allison | April 04, 2011
In Defense of Finance
by Yaron Brook | February 15, 2011
The Tea Party Will Fail — Unless it Fully Embraces Individualism as a Moral Ideal
by Tom Bowden | January 21, 2011
How About Tax Reparations for the Rich?
by Don Watkins | January 18, 2011
The Guilt Pledge
by Don Watkins | September 22, 2010
How To Succeed In Business: Really Try
by Don Watkins | September 13, 2010
The U.S. Anti-Business Epidemic
by Don Watkins | August 17, 2010
Atlas Shrugged’s Timeless Moral: Profit-Making Is Virtue, Not Vice
by Yaron Brook | July 20, 2010
Capitalism: Who Needs It — Ayn Rand and the American System
by Yaron Brook | June 09, 2010
Apple vs. GM: Ayn Rand Knew the Difference. Do You?
by Don Watkins | March 02, 2010
Commercialism Only Adds to Joy of the Holidays
by Onkar Ghate | December 18, 2009
Why is Ayn Rand Still Relevant: Atlas Shrugged and Today’s World
by Yaron Brook | August 10, 2009
The Corrupt Critics of CEO Pay
by Yaron Brook | May 2009
America’s Unfree Market
by Yaron Brook | May 2009
Energy at the Speed of Thought: The Original Alternative Energy Market
by Alex Epstein | Summer 2009
Is Rand Relevant?
by Yaron Brook | March 14, 2009
Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures
by Yaron Brook | November 13, 2008
From Flat World To Free World
by Yaron Brook | June 26, 2008
Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company
by Alex Epstein | Summer 2008
The Right Vision Of Health Care
by Yaron Brook | January 08, 2008
Deep-Six the Law of the Sea
by Tom Bowden | November 20, 2007
The Influence of Atlas Shrugged
by Yaron Brook | October 09, 2007
The Morality of Moneylending: A Short History
by Yaron Brook | Fall 2007
Say “No Way!” to “Say on Pay”
by Yaron Brook | May 22, 2007
Atlas Shrugged — America's Second Declaration of Independence
by Onkar Ghate | March 01, 2007
Pay Is Company’s Prerogative
by Yaron Brook | January 08, 2007
Religion and Morality
by Onkar Ghate | October 18, 2006
Net Neutrality vs. Internet Freedom
by Alex Epstein | August 16, 2006
Why Are CEOs Paid So Much?
by Elan Journo | May 11, 2006
To Outsource or to Stagnate?
by Onkar Ghate | August 01, 2004
Ayn Rand's Ideas — An Introduction
by Onkar Ghate | June 02, 2003
Capitalists vs. Crooks
by Elan Journo | July 22, 2002
Forgotten Heroes of 9/11
by Onkar Ghate | May 17, 2002
Religion vs. America
by Leonard Peikoff | 1986
The Sanction of the Victims
by Ayn Rand | November 21, 1981
Egalitarianism and Inflation
by Ayn Rand | 1974
The Moratorium on Brains
by Ayn Rand | November 14, 1971
What Is Capitalism?
by Ayn Rand | November 19, 1967
POV: What Is Capitalism?
by admin | November-December 1965
Is Atlas Shrugging?
by Ayn Rand | April 19, 1964
The Fascist New Frontier
by Ayn Rand | December 16, 1962
America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business
by Ayn Rand | December 17, 1961
The “New Intellectual”
by Ayn Rand | May 15, 1961
Capitalism vs. Communism
by Ayn Rand | 1961

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From Flat World To Free World

by Yaron Brook | June 26, 2008 | Forbes.com

Considering the many jubilant boasts by “flat world” devotees in recent years, you might have been tempted to regard economic globalization as a juggernaut, powered by inexorable forces of technology and history.

Big mistake. There’s no preordained direction for the world economy — only an undetermined future that will take the shape of whatever ideas and policies we choose to uphold. The lack of an intellectual defense of capitalism has left free markets vulnerable. “The power of the state is reasserting itself,” said Daniel Yergin, co-author of The Commanding Heights and a free-market optimist, in The Wall Street Journal recently.

In Latin America, the pro-market reforms of the 1990s are being swallowed by resurgent nationalism. Hugo Chavez’s program for national socialism in Venezuela includes the gleeful seizure of foreign assets in oil, mining, cement, steel, telecommunications and electricity.

Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and neighboring nations have fallen into step with Venezuela, further chilling international trade. Argentina, already burdened by high inflation, recently imposed taxes on grain exports so painful that farmers went on strike nationwide.

Russia has pursued nationalization less noisily than Chavez, using selective prosecution and other threats to bully foreign investors like British Petroleum into surrendering valuable oil and natural gas interests. Even England — which for decades embraced Margaret Thatcher’s privatization program, despite a long tradition of state-run enterprise — decided earlier this year to nationalize a private bank, Northern Rock.

Other ominous symptoms of nationalism’s growth are the massive sovereign wealth funds springing up in the Middle East, China, Brazil and wherever else oil and export revenues fatten up government coffers instead of private balance sheets.

The International Monetary Fund estimates such funds may control $12 trillion in assets globally by 2012, up from $3 trillion today. Few question such funds’ legitimacy, even as their state-appointed managers pursue hidden political agendas from which market distortions and political fallout predictably follow.

In America, politicians are embracing this strong state role so that no matter which party prevails this November, the reform agenda will include trade policies that retreat from economic globalism.

In little more than a decade, Congress approved both North American Free Trade Agreement (1994) and Central America Free Trade Agreement (2005), encouraging speculation that the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would soon topple trade barriers throughout the hemisphere. Although such agreements don’t establish actual freedom of trade, they nonetheless represent improvements over highly protective tariffs.

But this year, the House of Representatives has deep-sixed trade bills negotiated in good faith with Colombia and South Korea, and the FTAA is in cold storage. Meanwhile, Congress has blithely pushed through a farm bill whose trade-distorting provisions seem certain to frustrate the ongoing World Trade Organization talks aimed at lowering trade barriers worldwide.

So why is the world retreating behind nationalistic walls — even in America, where you might least expect it?

The short answer is this: The expanding economic freedom of the past few decades was primarily a response to the bankruptcy of communism and socialism; it was not based on acceptance of capitalism as an ideal. Without such acceptance, recent political advances — despite the economic success they generated — are vulnerable to the new wave of anticapitalist measures.

For all of capitalism’s astounding accomplishments, the intellectual underpinning sufficient to deflect its critics has never been fully identified or understood. Capitalism and the profit motive continue to be viewed with suspicion.

After all, even in America, we live in a culture that lauds self-sacrifice, community service and “giving back” as its moral ideals. Businessmen who selfishly pursue profits, in contradiction to those ideals, are consigned to a moral dungeon from which they can only hope to escape on evenings and weekends. This is why Barack Obama can get away with belittling the “money culture,” his wife can smugly counsel youth to shun “corporate America” and John McCain can brag about working “out of patriotism, not for profit.”

The odor of moral suspicion that clings to capitalism helps explain why, decade after decade, businessmen are first to be blamed for the never-ending crises actually caused by statist market distortions. Whenever some new emergency arises, culpability falls first on greedy capitalists, whose profit-seeking is regarded as morally suspect, and rarely on government regulators, whose selfless policies are regarded as morally unquestionable.

The resulting pattern is depressingly familiar. Are people in Latin America still poor? The cause must be “exploitative” multinationals, and the cure must be state ownership of natural resources and more forced wealth redistribution. Are food prices rising? Blame the “ruthlessness” of global supply and demand and the “machinations” of speculators, then jettison free trade and ban exports.

Are domestic companies sending jobs overseas? Then temper the “cruelty” of the world market: Ban outsourcing of government projects, weaken the dollar and use tax policy to keep jobs at home.

Capitalism will remain the world’s punching bag until such time as the profit motive is rescued from moral oblivion. Ideas shape history — and therefore political reform requires active, fundamental intellectual change, not passive reliance on favorable trends.

What ideas and ideals are needed for freedom to flourish?

History offers no better answer than the American story. Two centuries ago, the Founding Fathers blazed the path to a capitalist future by creating a nation based on the individual’s right to life, liberty, property and the selfish pursuit of his own personal happiness.

For the first time, a nation’s social system embodied approval of profit-seeking, the lifeblood of capitalism. America’s founding principles, all but forgotten today, facilitated the explosive economic globalization of the 19th century and remain our only hope for freedom in the 21st century.

Those founding principles withered because no one could morally defend self-interest. For individual rights to prevail in politics, nothing less than a revolution in ethics will be required — a bloodless revolution — not of arms, but of ideas. You’ll know that struggle is over when businessmen are finally viewed not as moral pariahs or ciphers but as paragons of virtue, precisely because they pursue profits.

About The Author

Yaron Brook

Chairman of the Board, Ayn Rand Institute