A defense of economic freedom as the linchpin of wealth creation.
Debates about economics and politics necessarily address the nature of inequality and distributive justice. To that end, Genetski (Classical Economic Principals & the Wealth of Nations, 2011, etc.), inspired by famed economists Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, argues that individual freedom is both morally and economically defensible, as it’s the most effective tonic to chronic poverty. First, the author defines wealth (“the value of those goods and services originally created to meet the demands of others”), plumbs the mechanics of its generation, and discusses the real difficulties of comparing the wealth of heterogeneous nations. He asserts that the most reliable way to comparatively measure wealth is by output per person; China is the world’s largest economy, but by this standard, it barely registers as a middle-class nation. A considerable portion of the book focuses on the United States, and according to Genetski, its wages and wealth creation have generally coincided with fidelity to free market principles. The author also provides a brief analysis of the world’s major economic regions, including Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Repeatedly, he discovers a causal relation between robust market liberalization and wealth generation, and he powerfully contends that involuntary wealth redistributions ultimately perpetuate poverty by dramatically reducing future output. Genetski’s analysis is remarkably concise, and the ground that he covers in fewer than 150 pages is impressive. Of course, that same concision demands the elision of significant detail; all of modern Latin America, for instance, is summed up in just a few pages. The book is unfailingly rigorous, providing hard data to substantiate its chief claims, but the philosophical argument undergirding the entire study—that people of all cultures ultimately desire freedom and generally respond predictably to the same economic policies—requires far more defense than the author gives here. Nonetheless, this is a sober and provocative contribution to the debate regarding the role of governments in regulating economic activity.
A short but thorough primer on modern political economy.