Capitalism with a Human Face

In This Review

Capitalism with a Human Face

By Samuel Brittan
Edward Elgar, 1995
292 pp. $79.95
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The author addresses the ethical foundations of competitive capitalism from a strong and explicit individualist perspective, but he argues that communities of individuals should help their least fortunate members and to this end urges a scheme of basic income support. Despite the occasional crack about Cambridge (Mass.) economists, this is a book well worth reading and pondering.

Voted the world's most influential economic journalist in a 1994 poll, Brittan combines gentle common sense with hard-headed analysis. He does not shrink from unconventional conclusions--for example, that the governments of major countries pay much too much attention to trade imbalances in today's world of integrated capital markets--or from conclusions that will offend some liberals, for example that high minimum wages reduce employment, even though he considers himself a (British) liberal. The book republishes some earlier essays but contains much new material and attempts to shape it all into an integrated view.