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Forbes CEO discusses the virtues of capitalism

Media mogul Steve Forbes joined Liberty University for Convocation on Wednesday, sharing wisdom from his grandfather, who founded the country’s leading business magazine, and presenting his case for why capitalism benefits the world.

Forbes is the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, which has over 900,000 subscribers and draws 90 million unique visitors to its website monthly. He is a four-time winner of the Crystal Owl Award, presented by USX Corporation to a financial journalist who has the most accurate economic forecast in a given year.

President Jerry Falwell introduced Forbes, noting that he had also spoken at Liberty in 1996 and 2000 while campaigning for the respective Republican presidential candidates.

Upon taking the stage, Forbes praised Liberty for its success and growth.

“Liberty University is a very entrepreneurial university,” Forbes said, “doing things over the years that others have not done and, therefore, to be blunt about it, you are far ahead of the pack.”

Forbes then offered some advice to students in a world rapidly changing due to technology.

“If you remind yourself of what your goal is, then you don’t get quite as upset or disoriented when the means or the tools to achieve that goal change,” he said.

He also shared some sayings that his grandfather, B.C. Forbes, became known for, including, “You make more money selling the advice than following it” and “The purpose of business is to produce happiness, not to pile up money.”

On the latter note, Forbes began a defense of capitalism, which he argued is the best economic environment for producing cooperation, trust, creativity, and, ultimately, abundance.

Even the most diabolical businessman, he argued, has to sell something that somebody else wants. Therefore, capitalism is about identifying and meeting needs.

Forbes credited the Judeo-Christian tradition with the rise of the Western world and the innovation that followed.

“These faiths emphasized curiosity,” Forbes explained, “searching for how God’s world worked instead of saying, ‘This is it, that’s it.’”

While people may try to associate capitalism with greed, Forbes reminded the crowd that people did terrible things to one another long before capitalism. He pointed to the new standard of living brought about by the likes of Ford and Apple, companies that made automobiles and computers accessible to the working man rather than merely the rich.

“When we don’t stand in the way of finding knowledge, applying knowledge, trial and error, we turn scarcity into abundance,” he said. “We don’t have to accept a fate of lack of progress and a lesser standard of living.”

In conclusion, Forbes told the students to challenge themselves creatively in order to innovate and to use their freedom for the benefit of others.

“Remember this: Capitalism, free markets, is about creating resources,” he said. “And when you create resources you can share resources, you can give away resources, and improve the quality of life, not only for yourselves but for the whole world.”

Forbes’ visit to Liberty was co-sponsored by the university’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter (LU YAF), as part of the Ken and Janice Shengold Advancing Freedom Lecture Series. The series focuses on exposing college students to free market principles. LU YAF is hosting a meet and greet and Q and A with Forbes beginning at 4:30 p.m. today in DeMoss Hall Room 4075.

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