Arthur C. Brooks

President, American Enterprise Institute
Author, The Conservative Heart and
The Road to Freedom

A passionate defense of free enterprise.

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Biography

Arthur C. Brooks is an expert on the connections between culture, politics, and economic life. He is President of the American Enterprise Institute, a research foundation focused on individual opportunity and free enterprise. His books Who Really Cares? and Gross National Happiness brought a behavioural economist's eye to the issues of charitable giving, national well-being, and the left/right divide. Now, Arthur is introducing a new book: The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.

Arthur's newest book, The Conservative Heart, offers a bold new vision for conservatism as a movement for happiness, unity, and social justice — a movement of the head and heart that boldly challenges the liberal monopoly on "fairness" and "compassion." It is time for a new kind of conservatism, one that fights poverty, promotes equal opportunity, and extols spiritual enlightenment. It is an inclusive, optimistic movement with a positive agenda to help people lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

His previous book, The Road to Freedom makes the case that the great American traditions of entrepreneurship and personal responsibility have been weakened by big government. In the name of "fairness", policymakers have imposed regulations and taxes on business, while reorienting our system from rewarding merit to redistributing wealth. Arthur argues that fairness is actually the greatest argument for free enterprise: only a free system is grounded in the moral principles of earned success, equality of opportunity, charity, and basic fairness. It's a powerful defense of a system at the heart of American values and greatness, and a practical guide to what new policies could put us all back on track.

Arthur was previously the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University, where he held joint appointments in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the Whitman School of Management. He is the author of a series of influential books: Who Really Cares? The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism, Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America — and How We Can Get More of it, and The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future. He is a regular contributor to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

Books

The Conservative Heart

How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America

Arthur C. Brooks

For too long, conservatism has been a movement of the head and not the heart. Now New York Times bestselling author Arthur C. Brooks offers a bold new vision for conservatism as a movement for happiness, unity, and social justice — a movement of the head and heart that boldly challenges the liberal monopoly on "fairness" and "compassion."

Many Americans today see two dispiriting political choices: ineffective compassion on one side and heartless pragmatism on the other.

Progressives have always presented themslves as champions of the poor and vulnerable. But they have not succeeded — more and more people are hopeless and dependent on government. Meanwhile, conservatives possess the best solutions to the problems of poverty and declining mobility. Yet because they don't speak in a way that reflects their concern and compassion, many Americans don't trust them. Americans know that outmoded redistribution yields poor results and does little for the pursuit of happiness. But there seems to be no conservative alternative that looks out for those struggling to get by.

Arthur Brooks, one of the country's leading policy experts and the president of the American Enterprise Institute, has considered these issues for decades. Drawing on years of research on the sources of happiness and the conditions of human flourishing, Brooks presents a social justice agenda for a New Right. Proposing a set of practical policies firmly grounded in the four "institutions of meaning" — family, faith, community, and meaningful work — Brooks describes a government safety net that actually lifts people up, and offers a vision of true hope through earned success.

Brooks argues that it is time for a new kind of conservatism, one that fights poverty, promotes equal opportunity, and extols spiritual enlightenment. It is an inclusive, optimistic movement with a positive agenda to help people lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

Clear, well-reasoned, accessible, and free of vituperative politics, The Conservative Heart is a welcome new strategy for conservatives looking for fresh, actionable ideas — and for politically independent citizens who believe that neither side is adequately addressing their needs or concerns.

Broadside Books (14 July 2015)

Reviews

Fresh Ideas for Reforming America and Truly Helping People — Heartland
'The Conservative Heart' by Arthur C. BrooksThe New York Times Sunday Book Review

Podcast

Book Review Podcast: 'The Conservative Heart'The New York Times

Excerpt

Introduction — MSNBC

The Road to Freedom

How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise

Arthur C. Brooks

Entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, and upward mobility: These traditions are at the heart of the free enterprise system, and have long been central to America's exceptional culture. In recent years, however, policymakers have dramatically weakened these traditions — by exploding the size of government, propping up their corporate cronies, and trying to reorient our system from rewarding merit to redistributing wealth.

In The Road to Freedom, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur C. Brooks shows that this trend cannot be reversed through materialistic appeals about the economic efficiency of capitalism. Rather, free enterprise requires a moral defense rooted in the ideals of earned success, equality of opportunity, charity, and basic fairness. Brooks builds this defense and demonstrates how it is central to understanding the major policy issues facing America today. The future of the free enterprise system has become a central issue in our national debate, and Brooks offers a practical manual for defending it over the coming years. Both a moral manifesto and a prescription for concrete policy changes, The Road to Freedom will help Americans in all walks of life translate the philosophy of free enterprise into action, to restore both our nation's greatness and our own well-being in the process.

Basic Books (24 May 2012)

Book Reviews

'Road to Freedom'The Washington Times

Wealth and Justice

The Morality of Democratic Capitalism Common Sense Concepts

Arthur C. Brooks

In Wealth and Justice, Arthur C. Brooks and Peter Wehner explore how America's system of democratic capitalism both depends upon and cultivates an intricate social web of families, churches, and communities. Far from oppressing and depriving individuals, the free market system uniquely enables Americans to exercise vocation and experience the dignity of self-sufficiency, all while contributing to the common good. The fruits of this system include the alleviation of poverty, better health, and greater access to education than at any other time in human history-but also a more significant prosperity: the flourishing of the human soul.

AEI Press (16 Oct 2010)

The Battle

How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future

Arthur C. Brooks

America faces a new culture war. It is not a war about guns, abortions, or gays — rather it is a war against the creeping changes to our entrepreneurial culture, the true bedrock of who we are as a people. The new culture war is a battle between free enterprise and social democracy.

Many Americans have forgotten the evils of socialism and the predations of the American Great Society’s welfare state programs. But, as American Enterprise Institute’s president Arthur C. Brooks reveals in The Battle, the forces for social democracy have returned with a vengeance, expanding the power of the state to a breathtaking degree.

The Battle offers a plan of action for the defense of free enterprise; it is at once a call to arms and a crucial redefinition of the political and moral gulf that divides Right and Left in America today. The battle is on, and nothing less than the soul of America is at stake.

Basic (10 Jun 2010)
Basic Books; Reprint edition (28 July 2011)

Book Reviews

For free people and free marketsThe Washington Times

Video

Book DiscussionC-Span

Gross National Happiness

Why Happiness Matters for America – and How We Can Get More of It

Arthur C. Brooks

Democrats and Republicans have two very different visions of America. Which one will make us happier?

Who are the happiest Americans? Surveys show that religious people think they are happier than secularists, and secularists think they are happier than religious people. Liberals believe they are happier than conservatives, and conservatives disagree. In fact, almost every group thinks it is happier than everyone else.

In this provocative new book, Arthur C. Brooks explodes the myths about happiness in America. As he did in the controversial Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, Brooks examines vast amounts of evidence and empirical research to uncover the truth about who is happy in America, who is not, and — most important — why.

He finds that there is a real "happiness gap" in America today, and it lies disconcertingly close to America's cultural and political fault lines. The great divide between the happy and the unhappy in America, Brooks shows, is largely due to differences in social and cultural values. The values that bring happiness are faith, charity, hard work, optimism, and individual liberty. Secularism, excessive reliance on the state to solve problems, and an addiction to security all promote unhappiness.

What can be done to maximize America's happiness? Replete with the unconventional wisdom for which Brooks has come to be known, Gross National Happiness offers surprising and illuminating conclusions about how our government can best facilitate Americans in their pursuit of happiness.

Basic Books (3 May 2008)

Social Entrepreneurship

A Modern Approach to Social Value Creation

Arthur C. Brooks

This text brings together the established pedagogy of entrepreneurship with cutting edge nonprofit and public management tools.

Measuring social value, earned income, donations and government income, entrepreneurial fundraising and marketing, and social enterprise business plans

For the entrepreneur who seeks to understand the social and non-for-profit sectors.

Pearson; 1 edition (21 Mar 2008)

Who Really Cares

The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism

Arthur C. Brooks

Surprising proof that conservatives really are more compassionate — and more generous — than liberals.

We all know we should give to charity, but who really does? Approximately three-quarters of Americans give their time and money to various charities, churches, and causes; the other quarter of the population does not. Why has America split into two nations: givers and non-givers?

Arthur Brooks, a top scholar of economics and public policy, has spent years researching this trend, and even he was surprised by what he found. In Who Really Cares, he demonstrates conclusively that conservatives really are compassionate in terms of giving to charities than their liberal counterparts. Strong families, church attendance, earned income (as opposed to state-subsidized income), and the belief that individuals, not government, offer the best solution to social ills — all of these factors determine how likely one is to give.

Charity matters — not just to the givers and to the recipients, but to the nation as a whole. It is crucial to our prosperity, happiness, health, and our ability to govern ourselves as a free people. In Who Really Cares, Brooks outlines strategies for expanding the ranks of givers, for the good of all Americans.

Basic Books; Reprint edition (4 Dec 2007)
Basic Books (8 April 2007)

Praise

"There will of course be many readers (and many more nonreaders) of Mr. Brooks’s book who will dismiss it on its face, and there will be fierce efforts mounted to discredit his analysis and data. Let them come. Who Really Cares should serve to change the public discussion dramatically. With any luck, it will be for our decade what Charles Murray’s "Losing Ground" was for the 1980s (challenging the disincentive logic of welfare) or what Michael Harrington’s "The Other America" was for the 1960s (highlighting the persistence of poverty amid affluence)—the text at the center of a constructive national debate."
Wall Street Journal

"The next time you find yourself in a conversation about how liberals are caring and compassionate while conservatives are selfish and hard-hearted, you might want to refer your interlocutors to Who Really Cares."
First Things

"[B]reaks new ground… In Who Really Cares, Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others."
Chronicle of Philanthropy

Gifts of Time and Money

The Role of Charity in America's Communities

Arthur C. Brooks

Policymakers, civic leaders, and scholars have increasingly focused their attention over the last decade-and-a-half on the importance of voluntary participation in civil society. From George H. Bush's Thousand Points of Light to Bill Clintons AmeriCorps to George W. Bush's faith-based initiatives, it is undeniable that communities are looking to increase their levels of charity and voluntarism in the provision of public goods and services.

What mobilises giving and volunteering? What are the characteristics of communities that are engaged, and those that are not? What can policymakers and nonprofit managers do to change the current landscape in places with low levels of participation? These are the questions that Gifts of Time and Money addresses. It is the first book that includes best practices in the areas of community giving and volunteering efforts.

It includes five papers that explore the impact of volunteerism and monetary giving on geographic and "virtual" communities and discuss ways that communities can better harness these resources through policies and other means. The papers include discussion of government encouragement of citizen service in a Brooklyn, New York neighborhood; the role of for-profit corporations in community volunteering efforts; the effectiveness of community volunteer centers; demographic, cultural, and policy factors that create the conditions for giving; characteristics of giving in religious communities; and the role of higher education in encouraging people to give.

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (3 Jun 2005)

Topics

Arthur tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and he's not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Why Giving Matters for America

Giving and volunteering are often seen as merely resources to support charitable activities, and many nonprofit organisations see fundraising as little more than a necessary evil. But research has emerged showing that giving and volunteering are, in and of themselves, an enormous source of prosperity, health, and happiness for givers themselves. This presentation lays out the evidence that charity is one of the most important sources of strength and vitality for individuals, communities, and our nation.
(Non-political, popular among business and nonprofit audiences)

Faith and Charity in America

This presentation shows that America’s big givers — to all kinds of charities and causes — are generally its citizens of faith. Why is this — and how can we include people of all beliefs into the ranks of givers?

Other People’s Money

Are those who say the government should redistribute more of our money to the less fortunate “more compassionate” than those who disagree with this claim? This presentation gives the evidence that people in favor of higher government spending tend to give away less of their own money than public spending proponents do.

The Three Principles of Happiness for Leaders

The research on life satisfaction and happiness holds major implications for leaders. This presentation outlines the main findings about the differences between happy and unhappy people, translates them into practical terms, and leaves leaders with three actionable principles for cultivating happier workers and citizens.

A ‘Happiness Platform’ for America

  • Right or left, political extremism is bad for our nation’s happiness.
  • America must defend its tradition of religious faith.
  • Family life must be protected.
  • We should be quick to defend freedom, but slow to abridge it.
  • For happiness, our national priority should be success, not just economic growth.
  • We must look for ways to promote opportunity, not economic equality.
  • We should celebrate our work, not impose greater leisure.
  • A happy America must continue to be a giving nation.
  • Happiness is easiest to find in limited government.

Other Topics From Gross National Happiness

Money, economic inequality, and happiness
Faith and happiness in America today
The politics of happiness
National security and the happiness of our citizens

Associations: Where the Winners Meet

Professional and trade associations often claim that they make their members more professionally valuable and effective. There is indeed evidence that association members earn far more, and are much more professionally satisfied than their peers. However, the reason is not simply that associations cause higher prosperity and satisfaction; rather, the most prosperous and satisfied professionals are drawn to associations. Associations are where the winners in an industry tend to meet. This presentation presents the evidence, explains why high-value professionals are attracted to associations, and — most importantly — details how these facts can help associations provide the services that make them as attractive as possible to current and potential members.

Holding on to Young Talent

This presentation gives the evidence on whether young professionals are really “less loyal” to their companies than older workers, as we often hear. It also details the most effective workplace and compensation strategies to hold on the young “A” talent.

Generations and the Future of Associations

Nonprofit membership associations face a generational crisis as the Baby Boomers age, right? Wrong. According to the evidence, Generation X and Y show every indication of joining associations at even higher rates than their parents and grandparents — but only if we give them what they want. This presentation looks at behavioral trends in generations, strategies for engaging young people, and what it all means for associations.

Videos

What's Fueling an Angry America? | Aspen Ideas To Go

Job as Vocation: Finding Meaning in Our Work | Aspen Ideas Festival

A Formula for Happiness | Aspen Ideas Festival

The secret to happiness

Feedback

A nonprofit trade association for wallcovering manufacturers:
I'm very happy to report that Arthur's presentation to [...] was very well received. We recently tallied our survey results, and it confirmed our suspicions based on feedback at the event. Arthur really connected with our audience and impressed them. It was the home run that I thought it would be, I appreciate all of your help in making this happen. It took us a couple of years, but it was worth it.

A nonprofit charitable giving organisation:
The consensus was that Arthur was terrific! He had very interesting data and conclusions, he received a number of questions from participants, and his style was nicely energizing at the end of the day. We were delighted he could be with us!

A strategic consulting group:
On both occasions when I have used Prof. Brooks, the audiences loved him. He has an engaging and witty style and his presentation skills are first class. He is also willing and able to reach a prior understanding of the audience, their issues and background so that he can customize his considerable pool of content into the most effective presentation.

He is a first-class corporate speaker and one who delivers real content in an engaging and entertaining way. I recommend him very highly.

Articles

— The Washington Post
— The New York Times
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— The Wall Street Journal
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— The Atlantic
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— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
— The New York Times
— TIME
— MSNBC
— The Wall Street Journal
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— Dallas News
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— The Wall Street Journal
— AEI
— USA Today