Book Review: Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government – by Yaron Brook & Don Watkins
In today’s environment, where the Indian government seems to be bereft of good leaders and men who can make the right decisions for the country, this book has particular significance. What makes the growth of the government possible? How does this concern us? What can we do about it? The book Free Market Revolution tries to present answers to these questions in a very coherent and dynamic writing style. Coauthored by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins, both of who belong to the Ayn Rand Institute, this non-fiction book proposes ways to break free from the shackles of economic breakdowns that are inflicted by the government. Clearly, the solutions are derived from Ayn Rand’s ideologies. Although the book focuses on the financial, political and moral mess in America, people of any nationality can gain an understanding of their own economies and the impact of their government.
Governments Grow Under the Pretext of Altruism
The government has used the morality of altruism to feed its own growth. Those who support power to the government base their arguments on the need for the government to regulate “greedy profit seekers” and to support the needy through schemes like unemployment benefits, housing subsidies, etc. With these motives, the only growth achieved by the government is its own!
As a code of morality, altruism puts a needy person above a productive person. It propagates that your “need” gives you the right to claim things – be it unemployment benefits or food subsidies. Brook and Watkins believe that the government needs a lesson in morality. With a change in this, the economic situation would turn for the better.
Selfishness: The Evil Cousin of Altruism?
The book Free Market Revolution emphasizes that the need of the hour is a moral code that is very different from altruism. Since our childhood, we have been taught that selfishness is immoral or that we should distrust people who pursue self-interest. The book clearly proves, however, that this is far from the truth. Contrary to conventional opinion, selfishness or self-interest will never promote contemptuous exploitation and will actually work towards everyone’s benefit.
Selfishness, when guided by reason, will result in growing businesses and rising profits. This will be achieved through proper use of resources and minimize wastages in the economy. The profit-seeking motive of businesses will promote the right kind of talent and ensure their efficiency and productivity. With growing businesses, employment and wages will increase. Hence, ultimately, self-interest will create wealth, which will benefit everyone.
Free Markets Will Free the People
After shattering our faith in altruism and establishing self-interest as the only moral code that will benefit people, the book goes on to describing the operation of a free market. The free market is founded on the laws of demand and supply, price mechanism and division of labor. People are free to produce goods and services and others are free to purchase these according to what they need or desire. There is healthy competition among producers or businesses, which leads to lower prices. Also, the buyers are free to decide whether to purchase the goods at the offered price. With competition among firms, there is a continuous effort to be as efficient as possible and as innovative as possible, in order to maximize profits. Thus, a free market translates to freedom of choice (both for what you want to buy and what kind of work you wish to do), efficient use of men and materials (no wastages) and a significant focus on quality and innovation.
Big Government, Big Mistake
The book Free Market Revolution says YES. Altruistic policies have led to big governments and a suffering economy. Brook and Watkins illustrate how an authoritarian state fails to protect consumers, while also punishing the producers. By allowing the government to monitor businesses and offer subsidies, we hand them the power to reallocate our income according to their evaluation of the needs of others.
The arguments put forward by the authors are not merely hypothetical claims. Everything is backed up by examples from historical and current scenarios. These examples, which range from Andrew Carnegie to Steve Jobs, highlight the effect of economic liberty on output, modernization and wealth creation. On the other hand, there are examples of government intrusion in the financial system and its outcomes.
On Shaky Moral Grounds
The authors of Free Market Revolution argue that the authoritarian state takes away from productive individuals and gives benefits to the unproductive. Is this what we’d like to define as moral? The government decides what you can produce or consume, and at what price. This takes away our basic freedom of choice. Is this what we call moral?
The government continues to prosper because many of us support altruism rather than self interest. Do you really want to give a few people the freedom to monitor and control an entire nation? Control the profit motive of the businessman, and the economy will continue to be pushed towards catastrophe. And, while this happens, the government will continue to grow!