Monday, October 18, 2021
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Minds, Morals, Markets

Frédéric Bastiat (1801–50) (Giov / Wikimedia Commons)

In Impromptus today, I lead with William Shatner, who, yesterday, went up into space — for real. Other issues in this column include vaccine mandates, the surliness of the public, and language. Is it time to throw in the towel on “to advocate for”?

Yesterday, I had a column that asked, “Do you have other recommendations or favorites?” Let me paste that item before getting to the mail — getting to the responses:

Radek Sikorski was in high dudgeon, and rightly so. He said, “We need to restore the moral basis of capitalism. The thievery exposed by the Pandora Papers has to stop.” To that, I said, “Amen.” This was on Twitter.

Someone responded, “Honest question: where might one read more about this concept of the moral basis of capitalism?”

I had three quick recommendations: The Roots of Capitalism, by John Chamberlain. Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman. And The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, by Michael Novak. We could all add to that list, amply. Do you have other recommendations or favorites? If so, let me know . . .

Here are some further nominations: The Law, by Frédéric Bastiat. Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. The Mind and the Market, by Jerry Muller. Wealth and Poverty, by George Gilder. A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand. And Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, by Robert Sirico.

Now, all of those books and those people are different from one another — witness Ayn Rand and Father Sirico. But they belong to a family, broadly speaking, as well.

Do you know what Rand said to WFB when they first met? “Young man, you are far too intelligent to believe in God.” When Bill related this to Wilfrid Sheed, another novelist and writer, Sheed said, “That was a helluvan icebreaker.”

For my review of Lang Lang, the Chinese pianist, in recital at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night, go here. Excerpt: “The talent that this fellow has — even when you want to kill him — is mind-boggling.” True dat.

Have a great day.

P.S. Let me put one more on our list, if you don’t mind — a striking volume called “The Economy in Mind,” by Warren Brookes.

P.P.S. Then we have those Scots, and those Austrians . . . I’ll stop now.

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