Vocation lies at the heart of a happy and meaningful life

Shutterstock.com

Article Highlights

  • The percentage of people worldwide who live on a dollar a day or less has plummeted by 80% since 1970.

    Tweet This

  • A genuine global miracle has taken place in our own lifetimes.

    Tweet This

  • Free enterprise is more than just an economic alternative. It is a moral imperative.

    Tweet This

When I was a child in 1970, global poverty seemed like an indelible fact of life. Sad photographs in National Geographic commanded our attention, but everyone understood that even the most ambitious relief efforts were like trying to drain an ocean with an eyedropper.

Fast-forward forty years. The percentage of people worldwide who live on a dollar a day or less has plummeted by 80 percent since 1970, according to inflation-adjusted figures from Columbia University economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin. A genuine global miracle has taken place in our own lifetimes. And these souls were not plucked from poverty through top-down philanthropy or foreign aid. They were empowered to pull themselves up by the spread of globalization, free trade, and entrepreneurship. Through free enterprise, the talents and ambitions of billions who will never meet combine to build a better world.

Truly, free enterprise is more than just an economic alternative. It is a moral imperative. But as recent years have made painfully clear, free enterprise cannot champion itself. Leaders in business and government cannot simply master the “how” of capitalism. Profits, products, and policy proposals are mere instruments, not ends in themselves. As John Mackey argues in his work on conscious capitalism, those who preach and practice free enterprise must also remember the “why.” What is the real purpose that animates our efforts?

This article originally appeared in the March 22, 2014 print edition of the Orange County Register. It will be posted in full to www.aei.org on March 31, 2014.
Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Arthur C.
Brooks

What's new on AEI

We still don't know how many people Obamacare enrolled
image The war on invisible poverty
image Cutting fat from the budget
image Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 22
    MON
  • 23
    TUE
  • 24
    WED
  • 25
    THU
  • 26
    FRI
Monday, September 22, 2014 | 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Policy implications of the new US labor market normal

We welcome you to join us as a panel of economists discuss US wage and price prospects in the coming months and the implications for the Federal Reserve’s current unorthodox monetary policy.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.