Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: 'Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government' by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins

Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government
Dr. Yaron Brook and Don Watkins
St. Martin's Press, 2012

Review by Joseph Ford Cotto

From the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency until sometime after Mitt Romney took an electoral beating, free market economics saw a dramatic rise in popularity.

It would seem there was no single reason for this. Some might say that the Obama Administration’s fiscal policies spurred a contrarian reaction among right-leaning Americans. Others could just as easily hold that the Great Recession made people of many different political stripes more conscious about dollars and cents.

Either way, there can be little doubt that the ideas of less regulation, lower taxes, reduced government spending, and free trade were – for a considerable period – very much in style.

During this unique period in American conservatism, Dr. Yaron Brook and his colleague at the Ayn Rand Institute, Don Watkins, co-authored a book, Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government.

Released in September 2012, it quickly became a national bestseller. Instead of simply articulating well-worn ideas, though, it makes a moral case for capitalism.

Utilizing Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, the authors articulate why it is not only financially but socially beneficial to embrace free enterprise. They believe, in so many words, that if individual achievement is championed, people will become inclined to actualize their respective full potentials.

This is an argument that none too many people would disagree with. More than a few points of contention might arise down the line though. For instance, the authors support doing away with Social Security and the Department of Energy, as well as returning to the gold standard.

One can see how such opinions are in line with a school of thought that emphasizes individualism. However, are they practical? Do they promote public policy measures that will be viable in the long run?

As an individualist myself, albeit an unabashedly pragmatic one, I would say that the answer is ‘no’ – save the gold standard. When I first read Free Market Economics, much as I liked the book, phasing out our fiat currency seemed like too great an undertaking for politicians and bureaucrats; something not inherently bad, but at the end of the day, unnecessary.

Since its publication, I have come to realize the authors’ wisdom on this issue. Still, embracing the Energy Department’s absence, eliminating Social Security, and scrapping all tariffs is just too much for me.

Nonetheless, Free Market Revolution should not be judged on the narrow criteria of my disagreements. The authors criticize misguided rightists with no less scrutiny than they do left-wingers. They stand for their principles with a conviction that is as ironclad as it is honest.

While you might not agree with Yaron Brook and Don Watkins, it is all but certain that you will learn from them. I certainly did, and I have a newfound appreciation for free market ideals — even though I remain a supporter of reasonable fair trade measures.

So, would I recommend giving Free Market Revolution a read? Absolutely. This book is many things, to be sure, but a disappointment is not one of them.

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