Introduction

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This book was written for those who love the United States of America and the principles upon which it was founded.

America was founded on an ideology—the right of each individual to his own life, his own liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness. As philosopher Leonard Peikoff writes: “America is the only country in history created not by meaningless warfare or geographic accident, but deliberately, on the basis of certain fundamental ideas.” The Founding Fathers sought to establish a form of government that, unlike monarchy, theocracy, and the mob rule of democracy, recognizes and protects individual rights.

The Founders were intellectual men, widely read in the ideas of the Enlightenment. They were also practical men, concerned with the problems of life on earth. Their great achievement was transforming the ideas of the Enlightenment into a practical socio-economic system—capitalism.

The recognition and protection of individual rights under capitalism led to the unprecedented achievements of nineteenth century America. The spectacular rise in the standard of living for all Americans, the explosion of consumer goods, and the creation of wealth previously unimaginable were the effect. Capitalism was the cause.

By capitalism, I do not mean the mixed economy of contemporary America, which attempts to combine elements of freedom with elements of government control and regulation. Capitalism means a complete separation of state and economics. Just as you should be free to advocate the ideas that you believe to be true, you should also be free to act on those ideas to produce, trade, and buy the values required to sustain and enjoy your life. Intellectual freedom and economic freedom are inseparable. The only proper purpose of government is the protection of your right to live your life as you judge best, free from physical coercion from others. The mutual rights of others prohibit you from using physical force against them. In a capitalist society, the use of force is banned from human relationships.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, both secular and religious statists attacked capitalism and its implied morality. Secular statists argued that individuals must put aside their own interests and values to achieve the collective good. Religious statists argued that individuals must put aside their personal desires in service to family, country, and God. Both agreed that individuals should not pursue their own self-interest, but should act in the name of the “public interest.” Both rejected capitalism’s implied morality—the moral right of each individual to his own life, his own liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness. As the nineteenth century came to a close, both the left and the right agreed that unregulated capitalism is impractical, that government controls will lead to greater freedom, and that government must intervene in order to achieve the “common good.” The Progressive Era ushered in an unprecedented expansion of government controls and regulations.

The ideas of the Progressive Era are alive and well today. On both the left and the right, the “solution” to nearly every problem, real or imagined, is government regulations, controls, prohibitions, and mandates. From health care to job creation, from the development of energy resources to the construction of infrastructure, from education to poverty, Americans look to government to provide the solutions. The success of capitalism has been forgotten, ignored, and misrepresented.

The purpose of this book is to shine a light on the morality and success of capitalism and to demonstrate that contemporary problems are solvable when individuals are free. Indeed, many of today’s problems would not exist if America had stayed true to its founding principles. When government intervenes in the economy and the lives of individuals, government is no longer a protector of rights, but their most egregious violator. When government violates individual rights, new problems are created and those that existed are made worse.

While a capitalist society as I advocate has never existed, you will see abundant evidence showing how education, mail delivery, charity, and roads can operate in a capitalist society. You will learn how waterways are kept clean without government regulations. You will read the stories of businessmen discovering new sources of affordable energy without government subsidies. You will discover how capitalism discourages racial discrimination. In every realm that we will examine, from libraries to employment, from land use to taxation, you will see that capitalism is not only practical, but because capitalism is the only system that protects individual rights, it is moral as well. You will learn what is possible when the innovative mind of man is unleashed from the shackles of government controls.

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Click here to see the Table of Contents.

Click here to read the Introduction.

Click here to read the Introduction to Part 1.

Click here to read the Introduction to Part 2.

Click here to read the Introduction to Part 3.

Click here to read the Introduction to Part 4.

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