Values & Capitalism, a project of the American Enterprise Institute, has published a primer of sorts entitled, Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing. The text is just over 100 pages, and gives the reader a thoughtful, concise and essential source on free market economics and its correlation to human flourishing and economic growth.
Authors Edd S. Noell, Stephen L. S. Smith and Bruce G. Webb say this about their work:
[T]he core proposition of this book is that growth is a moral issue because of its impact on the flourishing – or shriveling – of human society. The neglect of growth has moral consequences just as surely as the encouragement of growth has. At its best, sustained growth raises the poor out of poverty, improves the lives of the rich, and helps nations avoid intergenerational conflicts and the deprivations of fiscal crises. Even more basically, growth provides nations with the means and interest to protect the environment and to cultivate a vibrant and humane civilization.
Let’s examine just one of these topics: poverty. The authors note that the growth of a nation’s per capita income positively correlates to the income of its citizens, even the poorest. When a country’s economy grows, a series of events is set in motion, if you will. The example is given of the growth of India’s call-center industry, which required literate English-speakers, presumably fairly well-educated. The call-centers did not directly help less-educated citizens, but the growth of that industry caused the growth of areas requiring lesser-skilled workers: construction, food-service and the like. Of course, the authors are quick to point out that economic growth in any nation requires strong democratic governance, civil rights, rule of law and perhaps most importantly, a citizenship that values a culture of dignity, responsibility, trust and other virtues.
Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing is a terrific addition to the casual economist’s library, and offers a solid grounding in why economic growth and morality are necessarily intertwined.