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Friday, May 1, 2015

Where to Earn a Degree in Liberty

Troy University has put together an amazing program in free markets

In 1946, Leonard Read founded the Foundation of Economic Education because he recognized that learning is the key to advancing human liberty. The effort that Read began nearly 70 years ago remains “a learning process and not a selling problem.”

Read himself touted FDR’s New Deal programs on behalf of the US Chamber of Commerce until he met Bill Mullendore, an executive with Southern California Edison. Mullendore showed him that the New Deal was a raw deal that redistributed wealth, sapping the country’s productivity while strangling personal freedoms.     

It’s hard for those of us who have benefited from Read’s wisdom to believe he “started off believing in Roosevelt and the New Deal, sort of, because that was the sort of thing decent Americans did in those days,” as Brian Doherty explains in his book Radicals for Capitalism.

Read learned well and spent the rest of his life teaching liberty. His legacy lives on at FEE now under the direction Larry Reed, who circles the globe spreading the liberty message. He spoke to students at Troy University last week about “Presidents and Poverty: Wisdom from 19th Century American Chief Executives” as part of the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy’s 2015 Student Research Showcase.

Leonard Read probably couldn’t have imagined an entire economics department of free market scholars, but that what’s happening at Troy, carrying on his vision of spreading freedom through education. The young and energetic Johnson Center faculty has already attracted 65 undergraduate economics majors and starting this fall will offer a Master’s of Art in economics.

When I pursued a Masters and discovered the Austrian tradition at UNLV, it was life changing. But I was lucky — the rest of that department was anything but liberty-minded.

Students who work towards a Masters at the Johnson Center at Troy will have no Keynesian, Marxist, or supply-side sludge to wade through as they study and do research in the liberty tradition.

In addition to their teaching duties the Johnson Center faculty has published nearly 300 op-eds and appeared frequently on radio, TV and public presentations in the four short years the center has been in existence.

The faculty includes Dr. GP Manish and Dr. Malavika Nair, who were both Mises Institute Summer Fellows. They earned their PhDs under Professor Ben Powell, now the Director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech.

Dr. Daniel J. Smith was featured in the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets for his stellar research comparing the approaches to disaster recovery of Joplin, Missouri, with that of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  He recently co-authored a paper with Dr. Peter Boettke in the Journal of Prices & Markets, published by Mises Canada.

West Virginia University PhD graduate Dr. George Crowley’s research focuses on topics in public economics and constitutional political economy, with a specific emphasis on constraining government.  He has co-written an article forthcoming in the Journal of Private Enterprise titled, “Did You Say That Voting is Ridiculous?: Using South Park to Teach Public Choice.”

Last year Dr. John A. Dove was the co-author of the academic article “The Michigan Free Bank Experience: Wild Cat Banking or Interference with Contract?” that won the James Soltow Award for best article published in Essays in Economic and Business History. Dove earned his undergraduate degree at Hillsdale College taking numerous classes from the prolific Robert P. Murphy before finishing his PhD at West Virginia.

Dr. Phillip Mixon has been active in the area of economic impact and feasibility studies for several entities throughout the South.  He has published several refereed articles dealing with economic impacts and planned development.

Examining the bias in the news media and higher education is Dr. Dan Sutter’s focus, along with the social benefits of deregulation, public choice in authoritarian nations, and the interaction between constitutional and electoral constraints on politicians. He also hosts “EconVersations,” the Johnson Center’s semi-weekly television show, exploring the role of free markets in promoting prosperity.

It is simply amazing to have a university department that is filled with such brilliant and talented expositors of free market economics.

The pro-government side of the argument dominates college campuses everywhere. Biographer Mary Homan Sennholz described Leonard Read’s frustration: “How do you state your case for individual freedom and the private property order when the other side is monopolizing the stage?”

To that end, Read built his own stage in FEE. “Free enterprise needed an uncompromising fighting force,” writes Doherty, “and Leonard Read was going to supply the analytical and polemical ammo.”  

I’m often asked where students should go for a sound economics education, and I can now say Troy is the place that continues the tradition of Read, Rothbard, and the other giants of liberty. If you’re interested in pursuing a master’s degree in economics, apply today.