On Campus

MARCH 01, 1956

Filed Under : Education

Intercollegiate debating in the United States goes back to the 1870′s when teams from New York University and from Rutgers challenged one another. Such local rivalries gradually grew into regional contests and, more recently, into a national program with a single resolution selected annually for competition in colleges and universities.*

* A similar national program is conducted at the high school level See “Reaching High School Debaters” in THE FREEMAN, December 1955.

A committee of the Speech Association of America, a department of the National Education Association, drafts four or five resolutions on which college debate coaches vote. The winning resolution becomes the national debate topic for the year.

Recent college debate topics have been: a permanent policy of wage and price controls, a compulsory (federal) fair employment practices law, free trade, and diplomatic recognition to the Communists of China. The current resolution reads:


That the nonagricultural industries of the United States should guarantee their employees an annual wage.

In other words, the college debate teams are examining one version or another of the ancient and continuing debate between economic freedom and political control—open competition versus the welfare state.

From many debate coaches and from students themselves have come pleas for literature and material explaining and upholding the case for the competitive market and limited government. There are so many ways of planning, so many “experts,” so many brilliant arguments for minding all the world’s business except one’s own! Most seriously lacking are sound and appealing arguments in behalf of personal choice and freedom.

The Foundation for Economic Education is striving to help fill that void. Each year, as soon as the college debate topic is announced, Miss Bettina Bien of the Foundation staff assembles and offers on request packets of the best material she can find on the libertarian side of the issue.

The packet available this year, and already requested by approximately 500 college debate teams, emphasizes that a worker’s best guarantee of security lies not in a politically enforced “deal” but in the real bargaining which involves willing exchange with others in a free market economy.


March 1956


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November 2014

It's been 40 years since F. A. Hayek received his Nobel Prize. His insights, particularly on the distribution of knowledge and the impossibility of economic planning, remain hugely important today. In this issue, we look back on the influence of his work. Max Borders and Craig Biddle debate whether liberty must be defended from one absolute foundation, further reflections on Scottish secession, and how technology is already changing our world for the better--including how robots, despite the unease they cause, will only accelerate this process.
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