Economic Education

This article by Phyllis Hunsinger was first printed in The Business Times in October 2023

To receive the Champion of Freedom award from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is noteworthy. To deliver at least 75 speeches on economics and freedom annually since 1985 in virtually every state and in dozens of countries from Bulgaria to China to Bolivia is staggering. A champion for liberty, Lawrence Reed has authored nearly 2,000 newspaper articles and dozens of articles in magazines and journals in the United States and abroad. These accomplishments of Mr. Reed are merely a sampling of a legendary career. And he is coming to speak in Grand Junction on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Lawrence Reed, President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Atlanta, GA, will be the keynote speaker for the eighth annual Western Slope Economic Leadership Conference. “The Seven Principles of Free Markets” is the title of the keynote address. Mr. Reed will describe the philosophic and economic pillars of a free society along with the government’s proper role.

Why is the study of economics important? Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University said, “Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can help you make better decisions and lead a happier life.”

“Economics is not about goods and services; it is about human choice and action,” according to Ludwig von Mises. Von Mises was a notable economist who developed a fundamental axiom that individual human beings act purposely to achieve desired goals.

In order for individuals to act purposely, they need to understand basic economic principles. Although not exhaustive, these economic principles include:

  •  the notion of scarcity, where resources are always limited, and people must make choices
  • all choices involve costs
  • people choose the alternatives they perceive to offer the greatest excess of benefits over cost
  • people respond to incentives
  • prices are powerful incentives
  • voluntary trade creates wealth

The Freedom & Responsibility Education Enterprise (FREE Foundation), a Grand Junction non-profit, recognizes the importance of teaching economics to young people to help them succeed in an ever-increasing competitive world.  The FREE Foundation promotes free market concepts by helping students and teachers learn America’s free enterprise system, financial literacy, economics, and entrepreneurship.

Each year the FREE Foundation hosts the Western Slope Economic Leadership Conference with the goal of introducing students to sound economic principles and to identify characteristics of good economic leadership using a mixture of lectures and hands-on activities. The  all-day conference is designed for high school juniors and seniors from western Colorado. The speakers provided by the Foundation for Economic Education and the generosity of local donors allow students and their sponsoring teachers to attend at no charge. Lunch is included. The conference will be held Tuesday, November 7th in the Colorado Mesa University ballroom.

The leadership portion of the conference is entitled “Are Geniuses Born or Are They Made,” presented by Tunji Adebayo. Mr. Adebayo, a motivational speaker, aims to inspire students to discover their unique strengths, cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, stay motivated despite hardship, foster innovative thinking, and embrace self-accountability.

The conference is designed to be a combination of listening and action because hands-on activities are important to engage students in learning. Howard Beatty, the third presenter, has designed a business game, “Economics in One Hour,” to teach voluntary exchange, government actions, and entrepreneurial wealth generation. Mr. Beatty will be conducting two breakout sessions for student activities to demonstrate economic principles.

In discussing the importance of economic theory, Milton Friedman said, “There is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.”

Students attending the Western Slope Economic Leadership Conference will learn that human flourishing is the result of human action including mutual cooperation, free exchange, secure property rights, and ultimately wealth creation. It is the wonder of free enterprise.

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