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On the 2012 Campaign and the new edition of George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty
As the economy continues to stumble and with no story of success to tell, the Obama administration conjures up new straw men arguments to excuse his failings and blames business for not creating jobs.
He has portrayed Mitt Romney, the former head of private equity firm Bain Capital, as the personification of all that is evil about capitalism. In Obama’s zero sum economy, wealth is something to be redistributed to provide economic balance for those whose labor has been exploited and as payback to a society which has provided the means for this success. He has denigrated the creators, the entrepreneurs themselves saying, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that”.
32 years ago, many of us lived through a similar period of malaise, a seemingly ungovernable country is which the misery index, which combines inflation and unemployment, rose above 20%.
Like Obama today, Carter could not stand on his record of failure. The only arrow in his quiver was to target Reagan as an extremist, as evil, as out of touch with America.
But Reagan was not a man out of touch – he was a man of conviction. A conviction that America’s strength and greatness was born out of drive, determination and ideas. His way to turn the ship around was to unleash this energy.
His plan for this revitalization did come from a radical idea: supply-side economics. The intellectual bible for what became an economic miracle was a best selling book called Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder, the author who Reagan more than any other referenced in his speeches. Here is one of Reagan’s quotes from a speech he gave in 1983 addressing the National Federation of Independent Businesses on their 40th anniversary:
“America is getting well. She’s growing strong. And, together we’ll keep her free. Looking at you I get a lump in my throat… Small business is the gateway to opportunity for those who want a piece to the American Dream... The character and conscience of small business built this nation. You know, in his book Wealth and Poverty George Gilder wrote something about entrepreneurs that I’ve long believed. He said that most contribute far more to society than they ever recover. And most of them win no riches at all. They are the heroes of economic life…”
- Ronald Reagan
Mitt Romney is running a campaign of ideas that will bring America back to that era of greatness. His selection of Paul Ryan, who is said to carry a dog-eared copy of Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty, speaks to that.
Paul Ryan will now be able to replace that dog-eared copy, originally published in 1981, with a 2012 edition that was just released.
It contains a new forward by Steve Forbes, who says this about Wealth and Poverty:
“Capitalism does all the things that advocates of big government claim they are trying to do: uplift the poor; expand our sense of humanity; break down xenophobic barriers between groups of people and between nations; encourage cooperation, altruism, and creativity; and let everyone, as Abraham Lincoln put it, improve their lot in life.
We should glorify—or at least advocate and defend capitalism and capitalists for moral reasons, not just material ones. The abundances they create come about precisely because of capitalism’s moral foundations.
This profound, basic understanding is what makes George Gilder’s Wealth & Poverty one of the great books of Western civilization, on par with Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and and the late Jude Wanniski’s The Way the World Works.”
- Steve Forbes
Keith Mattox, August 26, 2012