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Jeremy Jackson, NDSU Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department, Published June 26 2013

Spotlight on Economics: NDSU to establish speaker series on 'Capitalism and Society'

North Dakota State University has been awarded a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to establish a "Capitalism and Society" speaker series that will be directed by me.

Capitalism, as an economic system, has been under attack because many lay the blame for the recent collapse of the global economy and financial system squarely on its shoulders. However, the reality is that capitalism and free enterprise also are responsible for the very high peak. Before the economy took a downturn, the world was enjoying the highest standard of living in human history.

While economists hold a diversity of views on every issue, most economists are firm proponents of the capitalist system. They tend to argue for it based on mathematical theories and real-world evidence.

The first fundamental theorem of welfare economics states that, under a set of conditions, the market equilibrium will achieve economic efficiency, thus making society's economic pie as large as possible. In such a situation, an economic intervention by the government only could move the economy away from efficiency and reduce the size of the economic pie.

For more concrete evidence, we can look to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the inability of communist nations, such as North Korea and Cuba, to achieve economic success. These countries are in contrast to the economic growth experienced by nations who have allowed their economies to operate with greater freedom.

Even the recent rise of China's economy has been attributed to the rapid

liberalization of its economy. Free markets and economic liberty tend to

coincide with economic growth and prosperity.

These are familiar arguments with myriad possible counterarguments. Not the

least among these objections is that, while free markets may be efficient, they may not lead to an allocation of the economic pie that is just. This is a moral and ethical objection.

Can a moral and ethical case for capitalism, free markets and economic liberty be cast in response? The answer is yes!

The "Capitalism and Society" speaker series will bring in high-caliber,

nationally recognized scholars who will speak about the moral and ethical

foundations of capitalism and the case for economic liberty. The speakers will give at least one public address for the entire community. Students, faculty and alumni of all the area colleges and universities, public officials, politicians and any interested member of the public are welcome to attend.

The program will attempt to bring in at least two speakers per academic year (fall and spring semesters). It may be possible to bring in one additional speaker per year.

Scheduling for the upcoming academic year is in progress. As soon as the first speaker is scheduled, announcements will be sent out with all of the relevant information.

Jeremy Jackson is an economics assistant professor with the NDSU Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department