“The Morality of the Free Market” was the topic of a Sept. 27 address at Harvard Law School by Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research organization in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by the Harvard Law Federalist Society.
Brooks presented the case for how the fight for free enterprise can be won by launching a sufficient moral defense. “The free enterprise system, contrary to what politicians in both political parties are saying today, is not an economic alternative,” he said. “Free enterprise is a moral imperative for the dignity of people and their happiness.”
His talk was based on his 2012 book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.”
Following Brooks’ talk, Noah Feldman, a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard, offered a response. Feldman said that while it is true that free enterprise is the most effective system for generating economic efficiencies, it tells you nothing about distribution.
“Efficiency and distribution are completely disjunct,” he said. “They do not overlap at all. You could have a tremendously efficient system that distributes all of the wealth to the poorest people or all of the wealth to the richest people. That means you have to inject morality into discussion of distribution. You’ve got to figure out who gets what.”
Watch a video of the discussion on the Harvard Law School website.