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Arthur Brooks

Arthur Brooks


From “The Once and Future Conventional Wisdom,” National Review December 17, 2012, by Arthur C. Brooks.  The new left conventional wisdom regarding free enterprise and how to replace it by an appeal to morality.

The three pillars of today’s conventional wisdom:

  1. That our system is unfair, and economic inequality is a problem per se.
  2. That our expanding entitlement society can coexist with the American experiment as we have traditionally understood it. 
  3. That the government can and should pick the right course for the American economy to follow.      


Three truths to be established in place of the conventional wisdom:

  1. We need a fairer economy.  Reject cronyism, increase opportunity, repudiate the notion that there is something inherently wrong with being rich.  Envy should be shameful.
  2. An entitlement society will ruin our country; not just economically, but morally.  Unearned government transfers must not be a form of income that is morally equivalent to paychecks.
  3. We do not tolerate a government that dispenses discrimination and picks winner.

To make these truths into the new conventional wisdom will in turn require that we accomplish four things:

1.   We need innovative policy ideas that embody this wisdom and help the bottom half of our economy.

2.   Our persuasive effort must be based in morality, not materialism.

3.   We must state and restate the new conventional wisdom about America.

4.   We have to commit to this effort for the long haul, across many political cycles. Cultural change and changing convention takes decades, not months.