The new edition of George Gilder's classic Wealth and Poverty (first published in 1981), with a new prologue and epilogue, doesn't come out until next month, yet already President Obama seems to be teeing it up. What I have in mind, of course, is the President's speech in Virginia telling entrepreneurs that they can't take credit for their own successes. He believes it takes a state to raise a business.
Mr. Obama thus chooses to minimize the responsibility that successful people have in creating wealth, while Gilder shows carefully and profoundly, how personal talent, skill, hard work and service to yet-unknown customers makes the individual entrepreneur vital to economic growth. This contrast makes Mr. Obama's case for the decisive role of government in economic development the best possible foil for the new edition of Wealth and Poverty.
Some people around here dispute this conclusion of mine. They think that if the President truly wanted to help Mr. Gilder sell his book he would have waited until the official pub date of August 20 before he started attacking small businessmen and entrepreneurs. I think that doesn't give the President enough credit. After all, he probably knows that Freedomfest, the huge libertarian gathering in Las Vegas just showcased Gilder and Wealth and Poverty, while Amazon.com already is allowing pre-orders of the book. So, this is the very best time to start the buzz. Surely Mr. Obama knows this and is doing what he can to help our George succeed.
After all, George couldn't do it alone.