America’s Commercial Republic, and Its Detractors: An Interview with Samuel Gregg

Key Founders believed that America’s future was to be a polity in which free and dynamic commerce would play a powerful role in defining society, as opposed to, say, the priorities of aristocratic or feudal societies. The “republic” side of this political economy equation is that this commercial society would operate within the context of institutions and sets of virtues that draw upon classical, religious, and moderate Enlightenment sources.
Should social conservatives embrace large-scale economic programs aimed at subsidizing family formation and childbearing? Is it more effective to focus on long-term economic growth? Are our declining birth rates really cause for concern, anyway? If they are, to what extent can the problem be solved by governmental family subsidies?
G.K. Chesterton may have summed up our current situation best: men who stop believing in God do not believe in nothing, but believe in anything. It seems that we’ve moved from belief in God to belief in government, and are hurtling toward an ever-growing state.
Americans today are anxious—not just financially, but socially. We despair even though we are materially better off than at any other time in human history. What happened? How did we get here?