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Freedom Seminar to explore economic freedom and development

February 2, 2023

The 2023 Northwood University Freedom Seminar lecture series will focus on the importance of economic freedom for development and describe how recent trends in business and government policy pose a threat to economic freedom in the U.S. and around the world. 

“The Northwood University Freedom Seminar is an annual symposium on the free-enterprise system led by distinguished academic and business leaders,” stated Dr. Dale Matcheck, economics chair for Northwood University. “The purpose of the seminar is to investigate topics of utmost interest to local, national, and global audiences.”

A global trend toward increasing economic freedom in the first part of this century has lifted millions out of poverty. This led to improvements in health, education, civil rights, and self-reported life satisfaction.

“Unfortunately, the trend toward increasing economic freedom has been reversed since 2020,” Matcheck stated. “There is reason to believe that this is not a mere interruption in response to the COVID pandemic, but a more permanent trend due to changing values and priorities of political and corporate elites.”

This year’s sessions will describe the relationship between economic freedom and development. They also will explore the potential long-run consequences of — and the ethical issues related to — current business practices and government policies that threaten both.

The format for the 45th annual Freedom Seminar is a series of three distinct events that are focused on a different aspect of the economic freedom and development theme:

• Feb. 24: A Global Perspective. This will provide an international perspective with speakers and audiences from several countries. Featured speakers include Manizha Wafeq, an Afghanistan native who evacuated the country a few weeks before the Taliban took over Kabul in 2021. Wafeq has 19 years of experience in development, 15 with a focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality working with international, government and non-governmental organizations. Other speakers will hail from think-tank leaders and economists from Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, and Guatemala.

• March 16-17: Threats to Economic Freedom. A slew of lectures and presentations are lined up to discuss current government or business practices that are detrimental to economic freedom and development. The lectures and the panel on March 17 are part of the American tour of the Free Market Road Show. March 16 will feature a keynote address from Dr. David Friedman — son of famed economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. All of these events are co-sponsored by the Free Market Road Show.

• April 15: Economic Freedom and Entrepreneurship. This will be held in Dearborn and will provide a historical perspective on the relation between economic freedom and entrepreneurship. It also includes a visit to historic Greenfield Village, where many of the historic buildings and artifacts related to American enterprise are on display. This program is co-sponsored by Young America’s Foundation.

“Here at Northwood, we believe that freedom, individual responsibility, and enterprise are essential for human progress,” Matcheck stated. “The Freedom Seminar provides participants with a deeper understanding of these values and the ways in which they can be applied to improve public policy, business, and our personal lives. This event brings Northwood students, employees, and alumni together with community leaders, business professionals, and distinguished scholars for lectures, discussions, and debates about the benefits, opportunities, and challenges associated with living in a free society.”

The Feb. 24 events will present opportunities to hear leaders from various countries to discuss the state of freedom. The morning session will be fully virtual, inviting speakers from Europe, Central America and Africa. The afternoon session will include an in-person panel discussing problems with socialism. Speakers will include Dr. Alex Tokarev, a Northwood economics professor, who grew up in Bulgaria under socialism and received his Ph.D. in Economics from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

The following includes a list of presenters who will be featured March 16-17:

Dr. David Friedman is an academic economist with a doctorate in physics. He is a leading proponent of anarcho-capitalism, the theory that the state is an unnecessary evil and that all services, including the law itself, can be provided by voluntary cooperation in the private economy. His most recent non-fiction book is Legal Systems Very Different from Ours, covering systems from Periclean Athens through modern Amish and Romany. He is also the author of three novels, one commercially published and two self-published. He and his wife self-published a medieval and renaissance cookbook and a larger book related to their hobby of historical recreation.

Friedman’s keynote will take place from 5 to 6:30 March 16 in Griswold Lecture Hall.

Art Carden is a professor of economics at Samford University’s Brock School of Business. He also is a senior fellow with the American Institute for Economic Research and the Fraser Institute; a research fellow with the Independent Institute; a senior fellow with the Beacon Center of Tennessee; a senior research fellow with the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics; and co-editor of the Southern Economic Journal. He has published research on mass-market retailers, economic history, and the history of economic ideas. He is a contributor to Forbes.com, and his commentaries and other articles have appeared in USA TodayProductive!Black Belt, and many other outlets. 

Carden will present an online lecture from 7 to 8:30 p.m. March 16. His presentation is sponsored by the Lindenwood’s Hammond Institute.

Richard W. Rahn is an economist, syndicated columnist, and entrepreneur. Currently, he is chairman of Improbable Success Productions and the Institute for Global Economic Growth. He also writes a syndicated weekly economic column which is published in The Washington Times, Real Clear Markets, and many other places.

Rahn will present a lecture at 10:30 a.m. March 17 in the McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center.

Dan Mitchell is a public policy economist in Washington, D.C. His major research interests include tax reform, international tax competition, the economic burden of government spending, and other fiscal policy issues. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on the flat tax and has been the leading international voice in the fight to preserve tax competition, financial privacy, and fiscal sovereignty. He has decades of experience authoring papers, writing editorials, working with the public policy community, and presenting the free-market viewpoint to the newspaper, television, and radio media.

Mitchell’s presentation will be at 10:30 a.m. March 17 in the McNair Center.

John Chisolm has three decades of experience as an entrepreneur, CEO, and investor. A pioneer in online marketing research, he founded Decisive Technology (now part of Google), publisher of the first desktop and client-server software for online surveys. Later, he founded CustomerSat (now part of Confirmit), a leading provider in enterprise feedback management. Today he is CEO of John Chisholm Ventures, a startup advisory, and angel investing group. 

Chisolm will present a lecture at 12:30 p.m. March 17 in the McNair Center.

Dr. Barbara Kolm is the leading female libertarian in Europe; vice president of the Austrian Central Bank; director of the Austrian Economics Center (which is the No. 1 Independent Think Tank in Austria and No. 21 in the world); president of the Hayek Institut; and professor of Austrian Economics at the University of Donja Gorica in Montenegro. She also serves on several supervisory boards. She was appointed vice chair of the UN ITU Focus Group on Environmental Efficiency for Artificial Intelligence and other Emerging Technologies (AI4EE) and chair of the Thematic Group on the United for Smart Sustainable City Index.

She will present at 2 p.m. March 17 in the McNair Center.

• A panel of three speakers will be featured at 4 p.m. March 17 in the McNair Center. Panelists include Dr. Tawni Hunt Ferrarini, Robert W. Plaster Professor of Economic Education  at Linwood University; Donald Kochan, professor of law and deputy executive director of the Law & Economics Center (LEC) at George Mason University; and Dr. Charles N. Steele, Herman and Suzanne Dettwiler Chair in Economics at Hillsdale College.

The following speakers will be featured April 15 at The Henry Hotel in Dearborn:

Dr. Timothy G. Nash, director of the McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Nash will present, “Travels and Life Made Better by the Real McCoy,” which will remember the contributions of African American entrepreneurs to America’s economic development, with particular focus on the life and accomplishments of Michigan native Elijah J. McCoy. 

His presentation will begin at 3:45 p.m.

Dr. Dale Matcheck, chair of Northwood University’s Economics Department, received his doctorate from Cornell University. He is a professor and department chair of Northwood University’s Economics Program. Matcheck will discuss the social function of entrepreneurship at 4:30 p.m.

The Freedom Seminar is made possible by the generous support of the McNair Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Northwood University. The public is invited to participate in the Freedom Seminar, and there is no cost to attend. However, you must register for each session you’d like to see. To learn more, visit https://www.northwood.edu/freedom-seminar

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