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Friday Five: Paul Ryan, Arthur Brooks, Bono, and More

On Fridays, we bring you the best of our blog and the best of the web. This week’s roundup includes Paul Ryan on poverty, Bono on capitalism and humility, Arthur Brooks on the morality of free enterprise and more. 1. Making a moral case for capitalism: Arthur Brooks illustrates how the moral question of free enterprise is the most important decision facing our country this election season.

Free enterprise is America’s blessing, and our gift to the world. Yet it is in peril, and only a moral defense will save America from squandering it as we follow the ruinous path of our European allies. We need more politicians, intellectuals, activists, and everyday Americans to stand up for free enterprise – not just because it makes us better off, but because it makes us better.

2. Ryan’s Way: Samuel Gregg commends Paul Ryan’s recent speech in Ohio as “a public and unabashed presentation of a conservative moral vision of the ‘why’s and ‘how’s of caring for the least among us.”

But then Ryan did something else: Identify civil society as the distinctly American way of addressing the challenge of poverty, be it material, moral, or even spiritual in nature. As he noted: “There’s a vast middle ground between the government and the individual. Our families and our neighborhoods, the groups we join and our places of worship — this is where we live our lives. They shape our character, give our lives direction, and help make us a self-governing people.”

3. Behind the Scenes of “The Moral Paper Route”: Julia Thompson talks with Jared Fuller, the first place winner of AEI’s “Make the Moral Case for Free Enterprise” 2012 video contest, about the inspiration behind the video and the events in his life that brought him to support free markets.

In the end, Jared reminded me, enterprise isn’t only moral; it satisfies, challenges and weaves us together with our families and coworkers—whether we’re running pawn shops, paper routes or marketing firms.

4. Millennials ask: Nick Eberstadt on “A Nation of Takers”: Nick Eberstadt reveals the dangerous level of entitlements in America today and answers questions on how the next generation should respond.

I would say that for Americans as a whole, the most pernicious myth is that entitlements are mainly a benefit arrangement for an underclass. In a pure arithmetic sense the main beneficiaries of something for nothing politics are our working Americans and our middle class Americans…

5. Bono, Babel, and the Myth of Economist as Savior: Joseph Sunde comments on Bono’s recent praise of free markets, focusing on the importance of humble economics.

Such overconfidence in our own designs can be particularly destructive in the realm of economics, a science that’s in a constant battle over whether it should seek to explain human action, control it, or bypass it altogether. Such planners find a perfect match in eager activists such as Bono. “We can build your tower to heaven,” they’ll say, “and you can make a name for yourself. If only the right policy buttons are pushed and the right economic equilibrium is arranged, the world can be set to rights.”