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Better Capitalism Book Review - Cato Institute

Art Carden is the Margaret Gage Bush Distinguished Professor of Economics at Samford University’s Brock School of Business. He's also a senior fellow with the American Institute for Economic Research and the Fraser Institute and the Beacon Center of Tennessee; a senior research fellow with the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics; a research fellow with the Independent Institute; and, co-editor of the Southern Economic Journal. More about Dr. Carden is available here. Dr. Carden is a busy intellect and we're honored he took the time to both read and reflect about the book Better Capitalism. Reproduced here are the opening and closing paragraphs of his book review. The full book review can be accessed here.

"The book has a lot to recommend it. It brings the 'real Adam Smith'—the moral philosopher and economist for whom The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations were part of a unified inquiry—into the conversation on faith, economics, and business ethics. Their discussion of Ayn Rand is striking, and I agree with them that, despite her atheism, she had a profound understanding of what it means for people to be created in God’s image. They encourage readers to dig into what thinkers like Smith, Rand, and Milton Friedman actually said and wrote as opposed to what is attributed to them. The authors invite their readers into a conversation, proposing action steps at the end of each chapter and asking readers to email them if they have better ideas. Better Capitalism is a sincere search for a better world."

[Paul and Aaron here: Between the above opening and below closing paragraphs of his book review for the Cato Institute, Dr. Carden has criticisms of the way Better Capitalism and its authors handle matters of classical economics, some of which will inform and improve our work going forward. We are grateful to him for his thoughtful feedback. Meanwhile, just as in our book, we quote directly and point you to the original source and encourage you to read what the actual author actually writes.]

"I share the authors’ moral commitments, and I think their discussion of Rand is a unique, overdue, and valuable contribution. They reconcile two seemingly disparate worldviews admirably (Christianity and objectivism). I embrace their effort to bring the 'real Adam Smith' back into the conversation. They are also frank and open about how Better Capitalism is an effort to start a dialogue, not end it. At the same time, they make some very heroic assumptions about what governments do and can do. A lot of their criticisms of firms like Google and Pacific Gas & Electric imply that there are practically unlimited fortunes to be made if only the enlightened would buy stock in the poorly performing enterprises and make them perform better.

"Better Capitalism has its problems, but it is worth reading. It emphasizes action steps, many of which I have glossed over here. I’ll close with one: economists need to do a better job helping people understand exactly what our beloved dismal science implies. The world is full of sincere people who mean very, very well and who genuinely want to make the world a better place. We need to do a better job explaining how that happens economically and how meaning well so rarely translates into doing good" (emphasis ours).

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