New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by Robert F. Salvino Jr., Michael T. Tasto and Gregory M. Randolph
Chapter 1: Introduction
Institutions matter. “Commerce, entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid; of course we know that,” stated Bono of U2 just after checking his internal compass and clearing the apparent irony of his own revelation, “Rock star preaches capitalism!” Bono nearly fell off the stage after making his proclamation. Economists for years have been trying with all their scholarly might to get the point across to other economists, politicians and the rest of the world. George Ayittey, Ghanaian economist and President of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington, D.C. apparently found a willing listener with a powerful voice in Bono. This book is written in the hopes that you will revisit your own assumptions regarding what you take as given about institutions, market forces, political forces, and entrepreneurship. Not all institutions are good. Not all government policies are good. Not all market forces are free market forces. Not all entrepreneurship is productive. Corruption is not a product of capitalism. Good government is not a product of a benevolent dictator. We acknowledge the devil’s advocate and invite him to the conversation. Not all government policies are bad, and so on it goes. We unapologetically stand on the side of economic freedom. We suggest that not all companies are bad, and in fact we argue that most are not. Each of us uses hundreds, if not thousands, of privately produced products each day with almost no reason to complain of any of them.