Take a note, Occupy Wall Street sympathizers: If you want the man to stop keeping you down and the government out of your life – if you really want to be ‘free’ – you need to support the free market system, capitalism.
In an exclusive interview with Red Alert Politics Arthur C. Brooks, president of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, said socialism is not as taboo as it was a few years ago, causing many young people to have misconceptions about what living under a socialist form of government would really be like.
“There’s a lot of freight on these terms capitalism and socialism. If you go back 20 years an say what system do you prefer, young people at the time would say capitalism absolutely and the reason is because socialism was associated with totalitarian government and regimes around the world that were imprisoning people and were really terrible,” he said.
Brooks, who is best known as a social scientist who works on economic, cultural and political issues, recently released a new book “The Road to Freedom.” The book stresses the importance of democratic capitalism, smaller government, private industry and individual liberty – issues Brooks says should be especially important to young Americans.
“This is really a question of freedom for young people. The free enterprise system is right at the core of how much freedom young people are going to have in the coming years,” Brooks told Red Alert Politics. “If we want to be able to use that energy from young people and transform it into a positive source for good so that people really are free, so people really are unshackled, we have to take care of the system that makes that so.”
Capitalism has gotten a bad reputation in recent years because of the 2008 financial crisis and bad behavior on Wall Street, Brooks said, but explained it’s still the most fair economic system despite its shortcomings.
“The key thing to defending free enterprise for those who want to do it is realizing that it’s not just about the money, it’s a moral concept, ” he said. “It’s something about free people and free minds. It means true fairness and fairness means a system that rewards merit and creates opportunity not one that just redistributes resources.”
Brooks explained that free enterprise has reduced poverty worldwide in the last half century.
“For example 80 percent of the worst poverty of the world living on a dollar a day or less has been eradicated since 1970,” Brooks said. “The reason for that is globalization, free trade, explosion and of international entrepreneurship without those things people would still be living in poverty in many places of the world.
“600 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty because of trade largely with the U.S. since 1980,” he continued.
Brooks admitted that times are tough for young Americans, but that they shouldn’t give up on capitalism and economic freedom.
“Let’s turn this time of crisis into a time of real opportunity today for America’s young people. We can do this together.”
Videography by Sarah Muro.