March 2017 Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Guest Blogger: Dean Robert T. Burrus, Ph.D., Cameron School of Business
While capitalism is still favored by the majority of Americans, a January 2016 poll suggested socialism’s popularity is on the rise.
As reported in The Washington Post, a poll asking respondents whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of socialism and capitalism found capitalism to be the big winner overall. But respondents under 30 years of age decisively embraced socialism.
Some older Americans dismiss the millennials’ choice by saying they are too young to remember the failure of centrally-planned economies or the lack of personal freedoms in socialistic or communistic societies.
Too young to recall? Perhaps.
A casual examination of recent history finds a meltdown in financial markets during the financial crisis, lingering unemployment (until recently) and the possibility of continued underemployment, deep and growing levels of income inequality and potentially crushing student loan payments. These observations support forecasters that remind the current generation they are potentially the first generation to achieve less economically than their parents. It’s no wonder alternatives to the perceived status quo are being explored both politically and economically.
Regardless of your personal preference, the economic systems were a subject of a debate on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at UNCW’s Burney Center.
Two distinguished academics - Dr. Steve Horwitz from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York and Dr. Gerald Friedman from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst - discussed issues comprising of the roles of markets and governments within society, including their ability to exacerbate or reduce inequality. They also covered multiple ways of conceptualizing income inequality and how it impacts economic efficiency and what, if anything, we should do about it. Attendees left with ideas and questions about how real standards of living depend not only on absolute but also on relative incomes.
The on-campus debate is sponsored by the BB&T Global Center for Capitalism and Ethics in the Cameron School of Business. The next guest speaker is scheduled for March 27: Professor Burton Folsom, Jr., who will be speaking on the topic of his book, “The Myth of the Robber Barons.”
For more information on future guest speakers, visit csb.uncw.edu/bbtcap.