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There’s little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana. Why? Most economists — from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty — say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely. “Our riches,” she argues, “were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea.” Capital was necessary, but it was ideas, not matter, that drove “trade-tested betterment.” Nor were institutions the drivers. The World Bank orthodoxy of “add institutions and stir” doesn’t work, and didn’t. McCloskey builds a powerful case for the initiating role of ideas — ideas for electric motors and free elections, of course, but more deeply the bizarre and liberal ideas of equal liberty and dignity for ordinary folk.