The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America
by Arthur C. Brooks
Broadside Books, 2015
(256 pages, $27.99, hardcover)
reviewed by John Murdock"They won't care what you know," the cliché goes, "until they know that you care." Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute (an institution not normally known as a hotbed of bleeding hearts) is on a mission to convince the nation that fiscal conservatives really do care about the poor. The Conservative Heart is Brooks's latest effort in a multi-year crusade that has included everything from launching a "Values & Capitalism" initiative to inviting the Dalai Lama over for a visit to going on an odd-couple speaking tour with Sojourners head Jim Wallis.
While a cheerleader for "the five incredible innovations" of "globalization, free trade, property rights, the rule of law, and entrepreneurship," which he credits with slashing poverty worldwide, Brooks spends most of his time talking about the "happiness portfolio: faith, family, community, and earned success through work." Actually, while dutifully tossing in that "nothing has given [his] life more meaning and satisfaction than [his] Catholic faith and the love of [his] family," Brooks's primary focus is on the transformative value of work. Amid a fair amount of statistics—which one would expect from a man who "fell in love with economics" in his late twenties after leading a tuxedoed troubadour's life as a classical French horn player—Brooks takes the reader on anecdotal journeys to places like a despondent Austrian town with wealth but no work and an Indian slum with dirt floors but a can-do attitude.
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