The Role of Business and Entrepreneurship: Private Profit for Public Good?

Are business and entrepreneurship fundamentally a positive force in society? This question has been debated for nearly as long as commercial activity has existed. 

Throughout history, business has played a crucial part in the growth and advancement of civilization. Yet, people's attitudes toward it have always been mixed. Ancient philosophy, Aristotle being one example, recognized the benefits of commerce and trade, but considered philosophy, religion, and politics ultimately to be of higher value to society. This ambivalence carried through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, during which, even though crafts and trade posed a sought-after alternative to feudal serfdom and increased the general prosperity of Europe, the commercial class continued to rank below the aristocracy and clergy.

From the Judeo-Christian tradition's perspective, business and enterprise can be positive human endeavors if they express God-given gifts and talents while contributing to a greater good beyond petty self-interests, as opposed to simply being driven by greed or envy. As St. Thomas Aquinas put it: "trade, considered in itself, contains a certain unseemliness, inasmuch as it does not essentially involve any honourable or necessary end. Still though gain, which is the end of trade, does not essentially involve anything honourable or necessary, neither does it essentially involve any element of vice, or aught that is opposed to virtue. Hence there is nothing to hinder gain from being referred to an end necessary or even honourable."

The Christian view of business' potential as a noble activity, coupled with the ideas of natural rights--chiefly among them individual liberty and property rights--led America’s Founders to hold business in high esteem. Indeed, many of them were themselves endowed with the entrepreneurial spirit. Praising the spirit of industry and virtue which comprised the foundations of American commerce, the Founders advanced "the principle of self-interest rightly understood" as a vital source for achieving general prosperity, and dismissed contempt for private profit as "ill-informed jealousy." It was this philosophical and political climate that motivated immigrants to undertake the arduous journey to the new world in hopes of improving their lives' prospects through entrepreneurial success. 

Arguably, America's focus on economic relations over political expansion--its early attitude of non-interventionism--enabled it to harness the philosophical ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment and the technological advancements of the British Industrial Revolution, causing it to grow into the world's foremost economic superpower by the end of the 19th century.

All the while, American entrepreneurs have always been aware of the benefits their success could furnish to society. John D. Rockefeller, the so-called Robber Baron, actually saw his ability to make a profit as a way to improve the lives of the poor: "Let the good work go on. We must ever remember we are refining oil for the poor man and he must have it cheap and good." Similarly, steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie emphasized that "the laws of accumulation will be left free; the laws of distribution free," but that the successful businessman is also "a trustee for the poor; intrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done for itself." 

Yet, even in America, business and entrepreneurship have never been viewed as unabashedly positive forces in terms of social progress. Government intervention, whether to improve the workings of the market or remedy its supposed failures--fraud, defective or hazardous products, exploitative labor practices, monopolies, trade deficits, outsourcing, recessions, environmental damages, to name just a few--has always been part of the picture.

Fundamentally, the question of whether the quest for private profit promotes the public good turns on an understanding of what makes profit possible. Entrepreneurs seek to find new ways to most efficiently utilize the scarce resources available (e.g. capital, raw materials, labor, time) to provide goods and services to the consuming public. Profit and loss then reflect an entrepreneur's ability to successfully identify and act on opportunities for creating and providing value to consumers. It is this process of "creative destruction" that facilitates problem-solutions, innovation, job creation, and economic growth--ingredients essential to the thriving of society. At the same time, any business' long-term survival depends on conducting itself morally: "The free market rewards polite, cooperative, tolerant, open, honest, realistic, trustworthy, discerning, creative, fair businessmen. Lying to and cheating other businesses, misleading consumers, and mistreating workers all have serious adverse consequences." 

Today, there is much debate over whether or not the ultimate driver of material prosperity is a bottom-up effort by business and entrepreneurs, or a top-down management by academics, philosophers, and politicians. Those in favor of a top-down approach will argue that government needs to plan, manage, or direct the economy through education policy, tax and subsidy incentives, energy policy, regulations, monetary policy, and more. In doing so, they effectively create an environment of public-private partnerships wherein businesses that exploit the plans or directions of the managers stand to profit the most, rather than those companies willing to innovate new products that do not fit within a plan or the goals of the managing class. Such an environment, is argued as more stable and secure because it is managed, and therefore more beneficial to the public. 

Those in favor of a bottom-up approach argue that government's role is to establish and enforce the rule of law with sufficient protections of property, contract law, individual freedoms, etc. not to manage or direct the economy.  Within this environment, it is argued that business and entrepreneurs are free to compete with each other while new and unplanned innovations are able to be developed and implemented, thereby benefiting the public. They further argue that an innovative economy cannot possibly be managed, planned, or directed because the managers of the economy (academics, philosophers, and politicians) cannot conceive of all the possible new and potentially revolutionary products business and entrepreneurs could produce or how those products could change society. In their view, individual freedom cannot coexist alongside a planned or managed economy, because to manage or plan the economy requires planning or managing individual lives. From this viewpoint, the freedom for individuals and entrepreneurs to pursue their interests, while protected by the rule of law, is the ultimate good for the public, with the expectation that such an environment produces innovation, trade, and over time greater and greater material prosperity. 

This topic overview explores the nature of business and entrepreneurship, their roles in a market economy, implications for the provision of what are commonly regarded as "public goods," such as education and health care, and their overall contribution to the development of a free, prosperous, and moral society.

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"The U.S. slid from the top ten most prosperous nations for the first time in a league table which ranked three Scandinavian nations the best for wealth and wellbeing."

"The Obama Administration’s $862 billion stimulus bill was an expensive failure that increased the federal deficit, contributed to America’s deteriorating fiscal health, and failed to reduce unemployment. Instead of repeating this mistake, Congress should alleviate business fears and economic uncertainty by maintaining the current tax policy (extending the 2001 and 2003 tax rates) and freezing...

When young George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak, entered the photography business in 1878, he needed a huge camera, a heavy plate holder, and various chemicals to take pictures and develop them.

"While big-government policies in recent years can understandably depress those of us trying to advance liberty and free markets, I remain an optimist about the future. Indeed, when I shake off the short-term doldrums and look at the big picture, I get downright jubilant over the economic opportunities and possibilities that will materialize in the twenty-first century.


"Rarely do spectacular entrepreneurs leave their realm of business for the political arena. One exception is Andrew Mellon, the third-wealthiest American of his era, who left a dazzling career in American industry to become secretary of treasury under Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. ...

As treasury secretary Mellon confronted three major crises: a...

"Most Americans would like to believe that this country is getting more entrepreneurial over time. While I wish this were true, the data don’t agree. Policy makers need to take a look at these data and acknowledge the pattern. More important, they need to understand why the rate of entrepreneurship is declining over time."

"An atheist has filed a discrimination complaint against a Columbia, Pennsylvania-based restaurant. The offense? The establishment has been offering a 10 percent discount for individuals who bring in a church bulletin on Sundays. John Wolff, who has officially issued his grievance with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, is hoping that Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen is held...

"A look at some of the trends in entrepreneurship in Brazil suggests so, and the country’s efforts to boost its culture of innovation and entrepreneurship promise to sustain its growth in the coming years."

"Few would deny that capitalism is the most productive and efficient economic system, especially after the collapse of Soviet Communism. But some critics still contend that capitalism is not a moral system.

Yet morality is impossible unless one is free to choose between alternatives without outside coercion. Since capitalism is based on freedom of choice, it provides the best...

"Something new is happening at Harvard Business School. As graduation nears for the first class to complete their Master of Business Administration since the onset of the global financial crisis, students are circulating an oath that commits them to pursue their work 'in an ethical manner'; 'to strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide'; and to...

"It is unfortunate indeed, that 'greed' has acquired such a bad connotation. Without it, we would not have clock radios, disposable diapers, or even water in Southern California. Alas, that means some of us would be in Chicago suffering through a few more 'Great Snowstorms'!"

"One of the hottest controversies in social philosophy these days is whether communitarianism or individualism is the more appropriate theory for describing the relationship between the individual and society. The dispute reaches beyond academic social theory to have a direct impact on beliefs and practices in the business world. The split on this issue in the academy is mirrored in the...

"Private firms are increasingly sought after to provide the four Ps of crime control: prevention, pursuit, prosecution, and punishment. Because the benefits of entrepreneurship in crime control are considerable—swifter justice and greater security at lower cost—policymakers may be forced to seriously consider lowering the legal obstacles that block full development of this trend."

"There is one primary responsibility of business people in a free market society and that is the creation of value. The expectation of value creation is the primary reason society allows firms to exist. By value creation I mean the creation of value through integrative (pie expanding) relationships with the primary corporate constituencies of shareholders, lenders, customers, employees,...

"An entrepreneur is someone who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. An entrepreneur is an agent of change. Entrepreneurship is the process of discovering new ways of combining resources. When the market value generated by this new combination of resources is greater than the market value these resources can generate elsewhere individually or in some other...

"This report reviews what factors influence entrepreneurship among immigrants and considers questions such as how culture influences entrepreneurship, what can enhance the success of migrant entrepreneurs and how different migration policies may help or hinder entrepreneurship.

Some migrants start a business because they lack other employment options while, at the other end of the...

"For all its problems, America is a great place. And one thing that makes America great is its prosperity. Yes, some people have suffered during the recession—but compared to all the other countries in the history of the world, America is rich. Why?

One reason is that America is a good place to do business."

"There are three major approaches in ethics that have been defined by philosophers and theologians, and that are applied every day by many leaders who may never have read the works of the philosophers and theologians."

"How does the organization increase the likelihood it will survive -- even thrive? As Harford says in the video above, it must learn to adapt. Adaptation is many faceted phenomenon. But it always involves change. So how best to change?

Change can be incremental -- that is tested in small ways and scaled up (i.e. 'Start small, then fail early and cheaply.') Or change can be sudden, large...

I frequently write about the perverse impact of double taxation. By this, I mean the tendency of politicians to impose multiple layers of taxation on income that is saved and invested.

"In all cases, the law would apply to corporate farmers a few simple rules that better men would have been observing all along: we cannot just take from these creatures, we must give them something in return. We owe them a merciful death, and we owe them a merciful life. And when human beings cannot do something humanely, without degrading both the creatures and ourselves, then we should not...

According to John Berlau, George Washington was more than a military and political leader: he was a prime example of a great entrepreneur. To back up this claim, Berlau explains the many successful business ventures that Washington engaged in, some of which included flour and whiskey production.

This piece lists and classifies the world's largest, most profitable businesses. It also describes some of the world's most successful CEOs.

"That's the beauty of free enterprise, but it also makes it a hard sell politically. Unless voters have figured out no amount of government spending is going to restore the old status quo."

"No system can eliminate greed, fraud, or violence. Socialism and communitarian organizations promise paradise, but seldom deliver. Oddly enough, it may be a freely competitive capitalist economy that can best foster self-discipline and control of the passions."

"On Monday, President Obama invited a group of CEOs from corporate giants including Intel, Time Warner, Bank of America, and Microsoft to a sit-down at the White House. In a time when cash-strapped states, districts, and schools are scrambling to plug budget shortfalls, the president's message was clear: Business needs to open its pocketbook and do more to fund K-12 education."

"How should a government promote entrepreneurship? This column argues that providing support programs for targeted sectors or companies is akin to 'picking winners ex ante.' A far better approach is to encourage competition in the financial sector that facilitates experimentation in the real economy. Governments should forget about picking winners and focus on picking the right system."

"The International Franchise Association today urged the Senate to reject a bill that threatens the First Amendment rights of small business owners who wish to engage in the policy setting process.

'IFA strongly opposes S. 3628, the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE),' IFA Vice President of Government Relations David French said in a...

"The idea of free enterprise is that everyone gets a chance, and no single industry or group of producers enjoys special privileges. Through competition and co-operation, but never violence, the living standards of everyone rise, and we all enjoy more of the life we want to live. It is not hard to understand, except in the corridors of the Bush administration, where theorists have linked arms...

"Innovation: creativity; novelty; the process of devising a new idea or thing, or improving an existing idea or thing. Although the word carries a positive connotation in American culture, innovation, like all human activities, has costs as well as benefits. These costs and benefits have preoccupied economists, political philosophers, and artists for centuries."

"Ordinary people — not just a small fringe group of zealots — are really afraid today. They see the country they adore being attacked at all levels; they see their freedoms under assault, their life savings genuinely in jeopardy, an endlessly anemic economy, a longer period of sustained unemployment than we've experienced in a half-century and a national financial crisis, born of world-...

"Most of these wonders have come about because of the efforts of private companies operating in a capitalist, free-market system. Though most don’t seem to recognize it, we’re in more than a little danger of giving it all away."

These remarks were written upon the retirement of Israel M. Kirzner, a prominent Austrian economist. Ebeling describes Kirzner's life and his contribution to economics, particularly in the area of entrepreneurship. Ebeling then goes on to elaborate about Kirzner's influence on the study of entrepreneurship, noting that, "In Israel Kirzner’s view, one of the most important reasons for open,...

"The Silicon Valley Paradigm assumes that the key to starting a successful company is to begin with a good idea and ride the growth curve of an attractive product life cycle."

"Say what you want to about John Mackey's organizational philosophy: it works. Some may want to quibble and argue the end of profit/increased shareholder value are the organization's true purposes. In some functional sense that's true. But profits alone don't motivate people in your organization. They want to feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to feel as if...

"'Can capitalism survive? No. I do not think it can.' Thus opens Schumpeter's prologue to a section of his 1942 book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. One might think, on the basis of the quote, that Schumpeter was a Marxist. But the analysis that led Schumpeter to his conclusion differed totally from Karl Marx's. Marx believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its enemies (the proletariat), whom capitalism had purportedly exploited, and he relished the prospect. Schumpeter believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its successes, that it would spawn a large intellectual class that made its living by attacking the very bourgeois system of private property and freedom so necessary for the intellectual class's existence. And unlike Marx, Schumpeter did not relish the destruction of capitalism. 'If a doctor predicts that his patient will die presently,' he wrote, 'this does not mean that he desires it.'"

"The public and decision makers are left with the erroneous impression that fracking will create vast numbers of new jobs."

"The concept of the young, dynamic entrepreneurial leader who starts a venture fresh out of college is one that persists. But although many entrepreneurial leaders start at a reasonably young age, the experience they gain through education and time spent in a more traditional corporate environment is vital to their future success."

"The CFPB won’t simply apply set rules agreed upon by experts, devoid of policy preferences. The supposed separation of technical expertise from policy is a mirage. From the first day, the agency director will be making political calls, determining not just whether rules have been broken, but what those rules should be and how widely they will apply. These are choices of principles and values...

"Obama's desperate protests that his anti-business rant was taken out of context are betrayed both by that very context and because they are a part of a piece — just one more component of his war against the American entrepreneurial spirit.

He would have us believe that his words 'you didn’t build that' referred to roads and bridges and not businesses.

Given his accompanying...

"As digital technology continues to advance, the Postal Service will continue to struggle to find a place for itself. Policy makers are making that struggle even harder by hobbling 'USPS’ ability to cut costs, and by banning competition. While mail service may lose its race for survival, it should be allowed make a run."

"Free enterprise does everything better.

Why? Because if private companies don't do things efficiently, they lose money and die. Unlike government, they cannot compel payment through the power to tax."

"If we care about opportunity and mobility for all, then we must do what we can to accelerate the emergence of new sectors. Progressives must bet on innovation. Research by the Kauffman Foundation has uncovered a startling fact: During the past generation, the lion’s share of net new job generation occurred in firms less than five years old. In 2007, the last year before the Great Recession,...

"If capitalism was the most influential single economic and social force of the 20th century (and continuing today), there is no better guide to understanding its power and complexity than famed economist Joseph Schumpeter, says Harvard Business School's Thomas K. McCraw. 'I think Schumpeter is the most penetrating analyst of capitalism who ever lived. He saw things other people didn't see...

"As the new Congress assembles, many legislators are considering how to lessen the regulatory burden on Americans. President Obama, too, now says that he wants to root out unnecessary government rules. With regulatory costs at record levels, relief is sorely needed. But it is not enough to talk about fewer regulations. Policymakers must critically review specific rules and identify those that...

"The conventional wisdom is that the American economic system is dominated by large corporations because big business firms are so productive that small firms cannot compete. In this view, ever vigilant government regulation of these large firms is required to prevent exploitation of workers and consumers.

In addition to the concerns about 'big business,' there is a growing feeling that...

"Adam Thierer’s lead article in the most recent Cato Policy Report is called 'The Sad State of Cyber-Politics.' It goes through so many ways tech and telecom companies are playing the Washington game to win or keep competitive advantage. It’s a nice set-up to a Washington Post opinion piece from this weekend in which TownFlier CEO Morris Panner talks about the growing riches accruing to...

In this brief article, Rev. Robert Sirico makes the case for entrepreneurship by appealing to Scripture. According to Sirico, "In Matthew 25:14­-30, we find Jesus' parable of the talents. As with all parables, its meaning is multi-layered. Its eternal meaning relates to how we use God's gift of grace. With regard to the material world, it is a story about capital, investment, entrepreneurship...

"Policy experts have proposed all sorts of creative ways to fix bad regulations. But politicians probably won’t implement them until we citizens—that includes you—hold them accountable not just for visible benefits of regulations, but for their invisible costs as well."

This article draws parallels between the entrepreneur and the well-loved hero in an attempt to show the benefit entrepreneurs bring to society. "Entrepreneurs are, in fact, heroic figures, and their accomplishments are worth celebrating. All of us are better off because entrepreneurs have been willing to attempt what others knew couldn’t be done, and then persist in the face of adversity....

"Adam Smith, make room: Joseph Schumpeter has come to Washington. Capital policy wonks may not yet be wearing Schumpeter ties, but the Harvard economist's ideas are cited by everyone from Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan to the warring parties in the Microsoft antitrust case.

Schumpeter argued that capitalism exists in the state of ferment he dubbed 'creative destruction,' with...

"Though the recent recession was the worst downturn since the Great Depression, some observers argue that one silver lining is an upswing in entrepreneurship. Recessions, they claim, provide laid-off workers with the motivation to start their own businesses, and a recent study suggests that in 2009 the number [of] people becoming self employed spiked to its highest level in more than a decade...

In the ongoing war of ideas in American history, those who advocate government action as an engine of economic development have been encouraged by a general and all-too-human tendency to avoid thinking deeply.

"The Institute for Justice has launched a new economic liberties program called 'The Power of One Entrepreneur.' They have five detailed reports produced by successful local writers, highlighting five individual entrepreneurs.

The power of one entrepreneur, the reports explain, is the key to helping our nation recover from this economic slump and to restoring our inner cities and...

"Business is based on the idea that self-interest and the desire for profit are moral and good and that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to profit. One’s survival and flourishing as a human being involves the creation, preservation, and use of wealth in self-fulfilling ways. Business is concerned with what is important to people’s lives and is a fundamentally moral activity. Wealth...

"When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the 'social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,' I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned 'merely' with profit but also...

"The latest data on economic well-being show the biggest slide in entrepreneurship and opportunity. Businesses' start-up costs are rising in the land of pioneers and patents."

This piece comments on the Standard Oil Trust case. According to Epstein, history shows that during Rockefeller's time in the oil industry, prices dropped dramatically, suggesting that Rockefeller's drive and ability to do exceptional business helped rather than hurt the American people.

"Profit-seeking entails tolerating profound differences in order to take advantage of those differences through trade, and trusting that others will reciprocate.

The fruits of all this have been unprecedented social cooperation and the creation of unimagined wealth."

"The new legislation, co-drafted by democratic senator Max Baucus and democratic congressman Sander Levin, aims to re-classify the returns fund managers and venture capitalists receive as ordinary income and not capital gains, as it has been for much of the last decade. This amounts to a much larger income-tax hit for VCs, jumping from 15 percent to nearly 40 percent."

"On this winter solstice, we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation. The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter’s night for Internet freedom."

Chart or Graph

A historical view on the conceptual development of entrepreneurial thought provides a lens for scholars as well as practitioners to interpret and explain their own entrepreneurial activity or research and formulate new questions.

Business CEO's answered in the above ways when asked, "What are the biggest challenges when trying to grow your international business in the newer, fast growth economies?"

Double taxation is particularly foolish since every economic theory—including socialism and Marxism—agrees that capital formation is necessary for long-run growth and higher living standards.

Shows Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Activity rates across the sample of 59 economies, organized into the three economic levels and exhibited within each from lowest to highest TEA rate. This figure facilitates benchmarking among economies in similar phases of development.

Figure 3 illustrates the GEM model, which shows, first, the relationship between the social, cultural and political context and three sets of framework conditions.

"Nations with better scores in the Government Spending component of the Index of Economic Freedom also have faster-growing economies."

This paper reports the results of a survey of top economics bloggers.

"The only group bloggers rate less favorably than Wall Street firms (with 8 percent As and Bs) is the U.S. Congress (no As and one B). Actually, 33 percent of our panel give Congress an F this quarter. Nearly one-quarter of economics bloggers gave the Federal Reserve a D or an F."

"A large majority (69 percent) of economics bloggers believe the U.S. government is too involved in the economy, four times more than those who hold the opposite view. This response is noteworthy given the balanced and largely non-partisan identification of respondents."

Entrepreneurial activity rates follow strong geographical patterns. Entrepreneurial activity generally is highest in Western and Southern states, and lowest in the Midwestern and Northeastern states. Figure 8 illustrates variation in entrepreneurial activity levels across the United States.

CEO's answered in the above ways in response to the question, "What are the two most important business risk factors you must do more to mitigate in 2012?"

Continued budget deficits and high public debt are likely to have a negative impact on productivity for a number of reasons. First, they reduce fiscal flexibility.

This plot reveals that the steepness of the left-hand side of the curve in Figure 5 is due to very high levels of necessity-based entrepreneurship at the lowest GDP per capita levels. Along the horizontal axis, the levels drop very rapidly with an increase in GDP.

Projecting three years ahead, economics bloggers expect global output, inflation, and interest rates to rise faster than anything else. The happy news is that two-thirds of respondents anticipate employment growth in the United States.

The chart below shows a population-weighted history of the past two millennia. By this reckoning, over 28% of all the history made since the birth of Christ was made in the 20th century.

Analysis Report White Paper

"The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom reports on economic policy developments since the second half of 2009 in 183 economies."

"The term 'business ethics' is used in a lot of different ways, and the history of business ethics will vary depending on how one conceives of the object under discussion."

"Incorporating these concepts and emphasizing two types of local knowledge, about social and commercial conditions, explains why some people are alert to profit opportunities and others are not. This implies that economic restrictions are more detrimental to entrepreneurship than previously understood."

"It may indeed be necessary to return to a more Aristotelian view that sees the pursuit of wealth as necessarily limited by a moral vision of what it means to live well."

"This entry focuses generally on academic business ethics, more particularly on the philosophically-informed part of business ethics, and most particularly on the constellation of philosophically-relevant questions that inform the main conversation and ongoing disagreement among academic business ethicists."

"The study of domestic and international migration within and to the United States is deep and wide, but as yet no one has developed and tested models that focus on the use of knowledge economy, economic freedom, and personal freedom indexes."

"This research examines the effect of skill in cities on regional wages. In place of the extant literature’s focus on human capital or knowledge-based or creative occupations, we focus our analysis on actual skills."

"When discussing our society’s big problems, there is a tendency to assume that we have the knowledge we will require to act on the problems before us. And there is a tendency to presume that the intentions of our actions will translate seamlessly to the desired consequences."

"A nation can advance liberty more effectively by adhering to the principles of free trade and serving as a beacon than by going to war. Free trade promotes international cooperation and thereby promotes peace. Contrary to widely prevailing views, markets and war do not go hand in hand. The market promotes peace."

"This is the era of educational entrepreneurship, but entrepreneurial activity remains distressingly sporadic in K-12 schooling."

"Increasingly, however, private philanthropists are on the cutting edge of development practice. A new class of 'entrepreneurial philanthropists' is redefining what counts as philanthropy. This Outlook examines some notable examples of 'entrepreneurial philanthropy' in the context of development."

"Regional economic development policy is recognized as a key tool governments use to foster economic prosperity. Whether specialization (or diversity) of economic activities should be a regional development policy goal is often debated."

An entrepreneur in the marketplace has to satisfy his customers, because they have to voluntarily give him their money in exchange for his goods or services.

"Although the ancient Greek economy cannot serve as an example of modern capitalism, some interesting views in regard to entrepreneurship are deduced mainly from the writings of men of affairs (particularly Xenophon and the orators)."

"I consider whether entrepreneurship is a distinct category within economic theory. More generally, I consider the links between discussions of entrepreneurship and philosophic debates over the nature of the aesthetic."

"In order to limit the effects on the noticeability and exploitability of profit opportunities, institutions must constrain the government in its possibility to renege on its commitments."

In this paper, we extend the growing literature on economic freedom as a determinant of entrepreneurship. We employ a new general measure of freedom that encompasses both economic and personal freedoms to test whether general freedom is related to entrepreneurial activity.

"This paper examines the implications of government attempts to manipulate the existing structure of social capital to create homogeneity among agents. It finds that these attempts can weaken, erode or destroy existing social capital. The paper concludes with policy implications regarding government efforts to create or manipulate social capital."

"Miller both provides an overview of the argument of The Constitution of Liberty and situates that argument within the broader context of Hayek’s intellectual career, so that he touches both on antecedents and later developments."

This piece gives several examples of medical entrepreneurs who are providing their patients with better care for a lower cost while operating their practices and companies like a for-profit business.

"In an American Experiment symposium released last fall, 20 writers grappled with the question of what it would take for them to start or expand a business in a low-income neighborhood."

"How is entrepreneurship good for economic growth? This question would seem to have a simple answer: Entrepreneurs create new businesses, and new businesses in turn create jobs, intensify competition, and may even increase productivity through technological change."

Contrary to popular opinion of John D. Rockefeller, this article declares that his chief goal was to provide oil for the poor at a decent price. Folsom goes on to describe Rockefeller's strong work ethic and philanthropic spirit, while also describing his sharp and successful career in the oil business.

"This paper reports the results of a survey of top economics bloggers….92 percent recommend that the government 'reduce regulatory burdens and fees on new firm formation' rather than implementing policies that would subsidize new firm formation. This level of consensus is noteworthy given the largely nonpartisan identification of the respondents."

"The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity is a leading indicator of new business creation in the United States. Capturing new business owners in their first month of significant business activity, this measure provides the earliest documentation of new business development across the country."

"Regional economic growth is powered by creative people, who prefer places that are diverse, tolerant and open to new ideas. Diversity increases the odds that a place will attract different types of creative people with different skill sets and ideas."

"According to Sean Jasso, Aristotle is the moral philosopher who more than any other formulated the questions which today's managers need to address: what is it to act with virtue in a business context, and how can the moral virtues be inculcated."

"In this issue, Andrew Murray, Senior lecturer in Philosophy at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, looks at the ethical questions raised by the fact that human beings engage in business activity, from the perspective of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle."

"In this study we provide an in-depth examination of how the supply of productive entrepreneurship is likely to be affected by the kind of tax and welfare arrangements that may prevail in a mature welfare state."

"University research is a key component of our nation’s innovative capacity. In an increasingly dynamic and global economy, the institutional infrastructure is inefficient at moving university innovations to the marketplace."

"The hermeneutical Austrians wanted to provide (1) a philosophically sound justification for the contention that praxeology is a science of meaning and (2) justification for an approach to empirical/historical work that favors ethnographic methods."

"Klein provides valuable insight that business owners and managers will find useful. As heroic as the entrepreneur may appear or thoughtful as the manager may seem, they don’t operate in a vacuum. Often they have no one to talk to and nothing to keep them in check but their own egos, which in many cases offers no check at all but the opposite."

To an unprecedented degree, this is the era of educational entrepreneurship. Unconventional thinkers have waded into the world of K-12 education, founded influential organizations, and upended conventions. They have developed new models for delivering instruction or recruiting teachers and have applied old-fashioned practices with inspired fidelity.

"Our research examines the role of post-industrial structures and values on happiness across the nations of the world. We argue that these structures and values shape happiness in ways that go beyond the previously examined effects of income."

"For Kirzner, understanding the role of the entrepreneur is essential to understanding how errors get corrected in the market and understanding the role of alertness is essential to understanding how it is that entrepreneurs come to identify these errors."

The endless variety of choices Americans enjoy daily is extraordinary—and yet so common it can be easily taken for granted. This world is so starkly different than the one faced many African entrepreneurs."

"As the nation strives to recover from the 'Great Recession,' job creation remains one of the biggest challenges to renewed prosperity. Small businesses have been among the most powerful generators of new jobs historically, suggesting the value of a stronger focus on supporting small businesses…and encouraging entrepreneurship."

"With tax day fast approaching, there is a considerable lack...

"Since the late nineteenth century, the privatization of the public domain has been slowed and even reversed, as more and more land has been withdrawn from availability for transfer to private owners and placed in national forests, national rangelands, national parks, military bases and reservations, and other government reserves."

"Drawing on the analyses of Athenian writers we argue that, although philosophers, politicians, and generals enjoyed greater civil and social status relative to those pursuing wealth-creating activities, ancient Athenians were not negative to efforts at making 'moderate' profits that were used also for promoting the well being of the city."

"Too many generations of Americans have swallowed whole Matthew Josephson's portrait of the great nineteenth-century entrepreneurs as Robber Barons...."

"Relying on interviews with a wide variety of stakeholders, including residents, business owners and managers, church pastors, non-profit directors and employees and rental property owners, we conclude that social entrepreneurs perform several key factors after a disaster."

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are often referred to as the time of the 'robber barons.'

This presentation provides a variety of charts which graph results from a Gartner CEO survey. The survey deals with issues such as IT systems, business priorities, and challenges that CEO's face in their organizations.

"This paper argues that there are two tiers of entrepreneurship important for economic development. One is concerned with investments in productive technologies that improve productivity and better service consumer needs. The other is concerned with the creation of protective technologies that secure citizens' private property rights...."

"More than 2 billion people worldwide now have some degree of access to the Internet, a figure that has doubled over the past five years. Yet while the Internet is emerging as an increasingly powerful tool for political activism, governments around the world are also becoming more expert at controlling electronic communication."

This piece goes on to present a positive history of John D. Rockefeller and his commitment to capitalism and strong business principles.

Studies indicate that we are a nation of economic illiterates. In a democratic setting, the consequences of economic illiteracy can be disastrous. People who do not understand the sources of economic prosperity are susceptible to schemes that conflict with the attainment of that prosperity.

"The first thesis is that many traditional and current notions of philosophy, in general and ethics in particular, cannot help us either to understand or constructively critique the norms of business practice in contemporary commercial societies. The second thesis is that there is a form of philosophical endeavor that is capable of doing so."

"I argue that there are two fundamental barriers that explain the lack of organizational innovation in health care. The first barrier is the lack of good information on quality.... The second barrier is the stagnant compensation system of public insurance plans."

"Claes Ryn finds room for a 'free market of goods and services . . . in a decentralized, group-oriented society” where “moral and other disciplines' persist. Small may well be beautiful. Minus the costs—moral, sanguinary, and monetary—of forcibly providing One Big Market, it looks to be cheaper as well."

"Among the great misconceptions of the free economy is the widely-held belief that 'laissez faire' embodies a natural tendency toward monopoly concentration."


"This audio comes from a 28 min video which originally appeared in 2000 and then as a DVD in 2005. It is narrated by Dr. Benjamin A. Rogge who provides the explanatory material and the Scottish actor Gordon Jackson who reads the quotations from Adam Smith. It provides a general introduction to Smith’s ideas in his most famous work."

In this lecture, Rand discusses the universally accepted negative views of businessmen in general, and "[t]he injustice of the antitrust laws and the manner in which they penalize success for being success" in particular.

The Prosperity Index combines factors such as GDP, personal freedom, and safety to determine the overall prosperity of a country. This map offers a breakdown of the rating for each nation.

"From insurgency in Iraq to global poverty, big problems can only be solved through a willingness to fail."

"From 'The Fountainhead,' Gary Cooper delivers Ayn Rand's timeless message about the individual vs the collective."

"Ted Zoller, Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation and Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, discusses the Global Entrepreneurship Lab."

"Entrepreneur, Twitter star, and former Apple software evangelist Guy Kawasaki highlights advice for creating meaning, innovation, and...revenue."

In this speech, Tucker discusses and illustrates how to improve society through market economy activities.

"'I, Smartphone' is a video based on the essay 'I, Pencil' penned by Leonard Read in 1958. 'I Pencil' has had a lasting impact on how we think about the market process. Why would the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics care about how a smartphone is made, and why would we want you to care? Because God has given us the market process as the most powerful tool we have in a fallen world to...

"Despite our collective despondency, we live in a time when more people are richer, healthier, better educated, more literate, and more productive. We live longer, travel more, and enjoy greater access to knowledge and freedom than at any other time in human history. "

"We have the opportunity to create more conscious and higher trust organizations in the 21st century. To do so will require three major changes:

First the organization must become conscious of what its higher purposes are. Secondly, we'll need our leaders to evolve to higher levels of consciousness and trust themselves. Thirdly, we will need to evolve the cultures of our organization...

"Allison's lecture addressed the genesis and implementation of his BB&T Values program at the company. He will explore how today's confusion about values has led to poor leadership and how an integrated vision of values can help develop better leaders as well as serve as a practical means to achieve success and happiness."

Are subreplacement fertility and the ongoing Western 'flight from marriage' bad for business? Please join us as we host a panel to explore the interaction between birth rates, marriage and economic growth.

In this speech, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary blasts crony capitalism, his inefficient competitors, and attacks politicians and bureaucrats for stifling business innovation and growth with regulations.

"In an interview with Phil Donahue in 1979, Milton Friedman discusses the notion of greed as a the typical flaw in a capitalist society."

"Many people think the lines on the map no longer matter, but Parag Khanna says they do. Using maps of the past and present, he explains the root causes of border conflicts worldwide and proposes simple yet cunning solutions for each."

"President Obama speaks at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, an event aimed at identifying how to deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world."

"The trailer for a new documentary being released by the Acton Institute that focuses on the stories of three entrepreneurs. A study of the call to create wealth and the benefit of business and free markets to society."

"Business is regularly portrayed in public discourse as morally deficient and prone to despoil the environment, undermine democracy, and stunt development. Ann Bernstein will explain why such ill-founded views, prevalent in rich countries, are especially harmful to the world's poor. She will criticize misguided campaigns to...

"America’s experiment with laissez-faire capitalism in the 1800s was a disaster, historians tell us, because businessmen used anticompetitive tactics to form giant, invincible monopolies. The textbook example of these evils of Big Business is John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. In an era before government regulations and antitrust laws, the story goes, Rockefeller wielded market power to...

"The Atlas Network's 2011 Morality of Free Enterprise initiative focuses attention on the moral component of freedom by showing that free enterprise both depends on and reinforces morality"

"Tim Brown says the design profession is preoccupied with creating nifty, fashionable objects -- even as pressing questions like clean water access show it has a bigger role to play. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory 'design thinking.'"

This old movie clip offers an interesting support of American capitalism. Citing a variety of facts and statistics, the instructor addresses the concept of wealth redistribution and the effectiveness of American entrepreneurship.

"Dr. Steve Gedeon of Ryerson University talks about Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneur."

Primary Document

James J. Hill was a great businessman and amassed the immense fortune typical for an early 20th century robber baron. As the title suggests, this book compiles his many speeches.

"If you want to save capitalism there is only one type of argument that you should adopt, the only one that has ever won in any moral issue: the argument from self-esteem. Check your premises, convince yourself of the rightness of your cause, then fight for capitalism with full, moral certainty."

"The Word Moral Goodness, in this Treatise, denotes our Idea of some Quality apprehended in Actions, which procures Approbation, and Love toward the Actor, from those who receive no Advantage by the Action. Moral Evil, denotes our Idea of a contrary Quality, which excites Aversion, and Dislike toward the Actor, even from Persons unconcern’d in its natural Tendency. We must be contented with...

This economic classic is noted for providing us with terms for and expositions of such key economic ideas as the division of labor, "invisible hand," self-interest as a beneficial force, and freedom of trade.

"This exposition of the essentials of Austrian economics is excellent. Taylor discusses all the fundamental aspects of Austrian thought, from subjectivism and marginal utility to inflation and the business cycle."

"This is neither the time nor the place to characterize or eulogize the maker of ‘this strange eventful history,’ but perhaps it is worth while to recognize that the history really was eventful. And strange. Nothing stranger ever came out of the Arabian Nights than the story of this poor Scotch boy who came to America and step by step, through many trials and triumphs, became the...

"The main issue in present-day social and political conflicts is whether or not man should give away freedom, private initiative, and individual responsibility and surrender to the guardianship of a gigantic apparatus of compulsion and coercion, the socialist state. Should authoritarian totalitarianism be substituted for individualism and democracy? Should the citizen be transformed into a...

"Benjamin A. Rogge- late Distinguished Professor of Political Economy at Wabash College- was a representative of that most unusual species: economists who speak and write in clear English. He forsakes professional jargon for clarity and logic - and can even be downright funny. The nineteen essays in this volume explore the philosophy of freedom, the nature of economics, the business system,...

"Ludwig von Mises described this as a 'monumental work' which 'is the most eminent contribution to economic theory'. He further stated that 'a man not perfectly familiar with all the ideas advanced in theses three volumes has no claim whatever to the appellation of an economist'. It is a work which made the modern intertemporal theory of interest rates possible." --Liberty Fund

"A reprint of Lachmann’s 1956 classic of Austrian capital theory in which he draws upon the work of Carl Menger, Frank Knight and Friedrich Hayek. In this book Lachmann shows how firms invest to position capital goods with one another, thus creating the complex capital structure. He shows how capital formation and adjustment is a continuous transformation which is immensely complex in its...

"This volume consists of 17 of Ludwig Lachmann’s most important papers published during the period 1940-73. Two of the articles appear here in translation for the first time. Prepared especially for this volume is a new essay about the present 'crisis' in economic thought. Walter Grinder’s extended introduction analyzes Lachmann’s scholarly career in four countries and his overall intellectual...

In this work, "Rothbard has collected Fetter’s journal articles and book reviews from the period 1897 to 1937 which cover the general topics of capital, interest, and rent."

Capital provides Marx's analysis of the capitalist system of production. It was a foundational work for the development of Communist thought.

"George Reisman was a student of Mises's, a translator of his work, and, as he demonstrates in this outstanding treatise, a leading theorist in the Misesian tradition. This mammoth exposition deals with the method and theory of economics, and particularly excels in its application to matters of policy. Its sections on price controls, money, banking, and environmentalism apply Misesian theory...

"This is a critique of both the idea that only agriculture is truly a productive activity and government war-time policy which resulted in rising food prices and taxes which had a deleterious impact on the poor."

"In this Liberty Fund book the editor has compiled some of the more important writings on economics before the appearance of Smith’s Wealth of Nations in 1776. It is particularly strong on the French contribution." Some of the more recognizable authors in this work include Daniel Defoe, Hume, and Voltaire.

"This document intends to present in a complete and systematic manner, even if by means of an overview, the Church's social teaching, which is the fruit of careful Magisterial reflection and an expression of the Church's constant commitment in fidelity to the grace of salvation wrought in Christ and in loving concern for humanity's destiny. Herein the most relevant theological, philosophical,...

"Recent years have witnessed a revival of interest in microeconomic aspects of economic systems. The theory of price has once again become the core of economic analysis. For the most part, however, contemporary price theory has continued to be presented within an equilibrium framework. This not only has diverted attention away from the market process and toward equilibrium, but has led to...

The official text of the original Constitution.

Rousseau wrote this essay to answer the question "What is the origin of inequality among men, and is it authorized by natural law?" He begins by envisioning a state of nature.

"Economic Freedom and Interventionism is both a primer of the fundamental thought of Ludwig von Mises and an anthology of the writings of perhaps the best-known exponent of what is now known as the Austrian School of economics. This volume contains forty-seven articles edited by Mises scholar Bettina Bien Greaves. Among them are Mises’s expositions of the role of government, his discussion of...

"Frédéric Bastiat has said that the Harmonies is a counterpart to Economic Sophisms, and, while the latter pulls down, the Harmonies builds up. Charles Gide and Charles Rist in a standard treatise, A History of Economic Doctrines, have referred to 'the beautiful unity of conception of the Harmonies,' and added, 'we are by no means certain that the...

"An English translation of Bastiat's series of short essays in which he tries to correct common misunderstandings about the free market."

Henry Hazlitt's classic primer outlines a straightforward and accessible portrayal of free-market economics. An unshackled market, Hazlitt says, is the only path to "full production".

"Vol. 5 of the 33 vol. Collected Works contains a number of Mill’s essays on economic topics, including the Chapters on Socialism."

These essays present his view on various philosophical, political, economic, and social topics.

This speech deals with the issue of taxation and its effects on business. Roosevelt argues that a tax increase would not be inflicted upon small businesses, but rather on large corporations which would be less likely to suffer from it.

This paper presents, in non-technical terms, an 'Austrian' view of how a market economy works.

In this selection from Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville suggests that "Americans ... are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of self-interest rightly understood; they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist one another and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their...

Mises explained economic phenomena as the outcomes of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each of whom was trying as best as he or she could ... to attain ... wants and ... avoid ... consequences.

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans of all ages continue to enjoy this simple and beautiful explanation of the miracle of the 'invisible hand' by following the production of an ordinary pencil. Read shows that none of us knows enough to plan the creative actions and decisions of others."

"This volume is a collection of essays which examines some of the central themes and ideologies central to the formation of the United States including Edmund Burke’s theories on property rights and government, the influence of Jamaica on the American colonies, the relations between religious and legal understandings of the concept of liberty, the economic understanding of the Founders, the...

In this speech, President Johnson discusses the role of the free enterprise system in America. According to Johnson, "the capitalist, the manager, and the worker ... make up free enterprise." Johnson then goes on to describe how large a share the government takes from the profits of these three.

"Human activities aim at some end that we consider good. Most activities are a means to a higher end. The highest human good, then, is that activity that is an end in itself. That good is happiness. When we aim at happiness, we do so for its own sake, not because happiness helps us realize some other end. The goal of the Ethics is to determine how best to achieve happiness."

This selection from William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation describes the resolution to the settlement's early starvation problem. Bradford implies that the switch from communal to individual property rights encouraged and incentivized an impressive work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit amongst the early Pilgrims.

John Stuart Mill was a British political philosopher and politician. In this classic essay, he argues that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.... Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

In this address, James Wilson expounds on the blessings of liberty and peace. According to Wilson, one of these blessings was the pursuit of agriculture and other forms of commerce. Wilson, however, cautioned that these benefits cannot exist without liberty, and liberty, in turn, cannot exist "without a good government."

"Nock was a prominent essayist at the height of the New Deal. In 1935, hardly any public intellectuals were making much sense at all. They pushed socialism. They pushed fascism. Everyone had a plan. Hardly anyone considered the possibility that the state was not fixing society but destroying it bit by bit."

This piece contains an entry from Benjamin Franklin's famous almanac, Poor Richard's. Franklin used this article to extol the virtues of industry, diligence, and hard work.

"Menger set out to elucidate the precise nature of economic value, and root economics firmly in the real-world actions of individual human beings.

For this reason, Carl Menger (1840-1921) was the founder of the Austrian School of economics. It is the book that Mises said turned him into a real economist. What's striking is how nearly a century and a half later, the book still retains...

"Economic conditions are constantly changing, and each generation looks at its own problems in its own way. In England, as well as on the Continent and in America, Economic studies are being more vigorously pursued now than ever before; but all this activity has only shown the more clearly that Economic science is, and must be, one of slow and continuous growth. Some of the best work of the...

"Vol. 3 of the 33 vol. Collected Works contains Part 2 of Mill’s Principles of Political Economy." In this volume, Mill specifically deals with issues such as value, profit, rent, and other related ideas.

This piece encourages the colonies to avoid war and instead focus their efforts on the pursuit of commerce. Jefferson implies that the colonists were industrious and devoted to their business affairs: "[T]he actual habits of our countrymen attach them to commerce."

Autobiography of John D. Rockefeller.

In the Spring of 2010, President Barack Obama hosted a summit on entrepreneurship. The summit especially sought to bring the U.S. together with Muslim countries and allow "America ... [to] share our experience as a society that empowers the inventor and the innovator."

In this speech, President Reagan declared that "[o]ur Nation is blessed with two important qualities that are often missing in other societies: our spirit of entrepreneurship and our capacity for invention and innovation." In order to further encourage the American entrepreneurial spirit, President Reagan signed the "Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982."

In a speech before a gathering of women entrepreneurs, President Bush praised American business and innovation. He also went on to state the need for fewer taxes and less government regulation in order to spur the future growth of jobs in the American economy.

Pope Leo XIII critiques socialism and capitalism, defends property rights, and lays out guidelines for justice in society within the Catholic traditions of human nature and Western Civilization. He places responsibilities upon how labor and employers behave toward each other. Additionally, he outlines the roles of the individual, the family, fathers, the church, society, etc. 


"Knight came to argue that profit existed because actual competition in a modern industrial economy differed from competition in the world of pure competition in at least one essential regard: competitors in the former faced a world of uncertainty; competitors in the latter did not. In the face of uncertainty, competitors had to become entrepreneurs: they had to use their critical judgement to...

"An Act To amend the Small Business Act to strengthen the role of the small, innovative firms in federally funded research and development, and to utilize Federal research and development as a base for technological innovation to meet agency needs and to contribute to the growth and strength of the Nation's economy."

"No nation has greater resources than ours, and I think it can be truthfully said that the citizens of no nation possess greater energy and industrial ability. In no nation are the fundamental business conditions sounder than in ours at this very moment; and it is foolish, when such is the case, for people to hoard money instead of keeping it in sound banks; for it is such hoarding that is the...

"Since 1937, NSBA [National Small Business Association] has advocated on behalf of America’s entrepreneurs. Reaching more than 150,000 small-business owners nationwide, NSBA serves as an umbrella group to myriad regional, state and local small-business associations and Chambers of Commerce and is proud to be the nation’s first small-business advocacy organization.

Although NSBA’s...

"A part of these 'lessons' appeared some time since in Harper's Weekly. The unexpected favor with which they were received, by being reprinted, in whole or in part, by newspapers in various sections of the country, has suggested their reproduction in a more permanent form. They are now completed, by the addition of several chapters bearing on the labor questions of the present day."

The Analects are a collection of sayings and actions attributed to Confucius and his disciples.

"The substitution of laissez-faire capitalism for the precapitalistic methods of economic management has multiplied population figures and raised in an unprecedented way the average standard of living. A nation is the more prosperous today the less it has tried to put obstacles in the way of the spirit of free enterprise and private initiative. The people of the United States are more...

In this piece, John Jay describes business ventures as a prime way to pay off America's debts. Jay credits the industrious nature of the country to the principles of liberty which allow its citizens to chose the type of business of their choosing.

"The Virtues of Capitalism, lays the foundation of Seldon’s views and theories of capitalism and its alternatives. The first part, Corrigible Capitalism; Incorrigible Socialism, was first published in 1980. It explains why, Seldon believes, 'private enterprise is imperfect but redeemable,' but the 'state economy promises the earth, and ends in coercion to conceal its...

"The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan is a twenty-volume series published by Liberty Fund that includes ten monographs and all of the important journal articles, papers, and essays that Buchanan has produced in a distinguished career spanning more than half a century."

"Here we have an eloquent hymn to human energy and its creative power. She sought to highlight the difference it made in America that the individual was permitted freedom from government authority. The Americans broke from the idea that dominated all over human history that they must depend on some overarching authority in government to grant them well being, and thus when good happens, we owe...

"This 1908 edition is the third reprinting of Clark’s path-breaking, yet widely under-read, 1899 textbook, in which he developed marginal productivity theory and used it to explore the way income is distributed between wages, interest, and rents in a market economy. In this book Clark made the theory of marginal productivity clear enough that we take it for granted today. Yet, even today, the...

"Thinking like an economist has been a point of pride since Adam Smith. What often seems to be an endless muddle of political and social perspectives, pseudo-scientific analysis, journalistic advocacies, and financial matters from daily household concerns to the stock market, is suddenly illuminated once one discovers the economic point of view. Kirzner’s The Economic Point of View is a...

In this book, Andrew Carnegie, one of the members of the "Robber Baron" class, describes his views on wealth, business, and moral character.

"Mandeville is a witty satirist who used a poem to make the profound economic point that 'private vices' (or self-interest) lead to 'publick benefits' (such as orderly social structures like law, language, and markets)."

This particular Federalist Paper is entitled, "The Utility of the Union In Respect to Revenue." Hamilton describes how productive commerce is needed in order to provide necessary revenue for the nation, an element without which "[a] nation cannot long exist."

"This is a collection of papers given at a conference on Austrian economics in June 1974. They cover the uniqueness of the Austrian tradition, papers on praxeology and method, the history of Austrian school, capital theory, theory of money, inflation, and the market process. The papers are by Edwin G. Dolan, Murray Rothbard, Israel Kirzner, Ludwig Lachmann, Gerald O’Driscoll, and Sudha Shenoy...

"Today I would like to tell the story of why it is important to act to decrease friction for entrepreneurs and small businesses, to increase liquidity in the private markets, and to regain a leadership position in the support of early-stage businesses. Others on this panel will be better suited to provide information, data, research and analysis on broad market trends, financial markets and...

The Law, written by Frédéric Bastiat in 1850, was famously influenced by John Locke's Second Treatise of Government and went on to inspire Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson.

"This book argues the case for a society organized by private property, individual rights, and voluntary co-operation, with little or no government."

"[LeFevre] proceeds to present the entire libertarian case for private ownership, with his characteristic clarity of exposition. He makes what is a radically hard-core case for the absolute integrity of self ownership and property ownership but in a way that comes across as common-sense. He shows that how a society thinks about the issue of ownership is not just a matter of details; our very...

Aristotle, one of the best known Western philosophers, concluded his work on ethics with the statement that he intended to look into "the whole question of the management of a state." The Politics was his effort to do so. He examines the origin and purpose of government, and then discusses Plato's The Republic and other proposed and existing forms of government.

"Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a study of the relationship between the ethics of ascetic Protestantism and the emergence of the spirit of modern capitalism. Weber argues that the religious ideas of groups such as the Calvinists played a role in creating the capitalistic spirit.

Weber first observes a correlation between being Protestant and being...

"This volume contains the principal shorter writings in which Adams addresses the prospect of revolution and the form of government proper to the new United States. There are pieces on the nature of the British Constitution and the meaning of rights, sovereignty, representation, and obligation."

Written by Matthew Josephson, this book coined the term "robber baron" and influenced several generations of Americans against the industrial capitalists of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Rousseau is noted for advancing the idea of popular sovereignty. He opens with the question of whether any government authority can be legitimate, and concludes that the only legitimate government is one where "the laws being solely the authentic acts of the general will, the Sovereign cannot act save when the people is assembled."

Montesquieu was a significant advocate of separation of powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and his discussion of law contributed significantly to the concept of rule of law.

"The State is about the intrinsic nature of political power, constant in the face of changing contingencies, dictating the way forms of government evolve, rather than being dictated by them."

"Smith expresses his general system of morals, exploring the propriety of action, reward and punishment, sense of duty, and the effect of numerous factors on moral sentiment.

In so doing, Smith devised innovative theories on virtues, conscience, and moral judgment that are still relevant and accessible today. Though somewhat surprising to find a philosopher of Smith's abilities...

The Constitution of the United States established the federal governmental system currently in place with three branches of government. The premise of executive privilege developed from the separation of powers clause.

F.A. Hayek presents a very thorough analysis on the role of knowledge and infomation in societies, how it is transmitted in various societies and economic systems, how a lack of knowledge ultimately proves to be the downfall of central planning, and other key topics.

Originally delivered in the eighteenth century, this 1872 sermon discusses money and the role it should play in a Christian's life. Wesley encourages people to gain all they can, save all they can, and give all they can. Wesley also promotes diligence, industry, and honesty in business.

"This eleven-volume set of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo contains all of Ricardo’s published and unpublished writings, and provides great insight into the early era of political economics by chronicling Ricardo’s significant contributions to modern economics. The edition has been widely acclaimed as the best example, prior to the Glasgow edition of Adam Smith’s...

This letter gives readers a glimpse into George Washington's business affairs. The instructions to the manager of his affairs encourage thrift, wisdom, and hard work in Washington's absence.

This piece discusses the great benefits of the Mississippi and the commercial value it offered to those claiming its waters. Madison then goes on to explain how American commerce and industry is beneficial both to the United States and to the European continent.

This piece discusses the potential commerce opportunities the colonists hoped to have following their attainment of independence from Britain. Adams specifically notes that American business was chiefly devoted to the agricultural industry during this time. The letter goes on to imply that the colonies preferred to practice their business pursuits instead of engaging in continuous wars.

"The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship. The conditions of human life have not only been changed, but revolutionized, within the past few hundred years. In former days there was little difference between the dwelling, dress, food, and environment of the chief and those...

In this excerpt from his work Man, Economy, and State, Rothbard describes the role of the entrepreneur in the economy. "We shall concentrate on the capitalist-entrepreneurs, economically the more important type of entrepreneur. These are the men who invest in 'capital' (land and/or capital goods) used in the productive process."




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Tired of business getting a bum rap? We are, too. Here's your chance to share on Facebook the good news that business is good, beautiful, and makes life better.
At Intellectual Takeout, we think it's about time freedom went viral. Before our generation is the opportunity to embrace freedom, to unleash each individual's potential, and to have a prosperous future. And yet it seems that almost everyone running our cities, states, and federal government is intent on destroying freedom and burying us in debt to pay for it. If you, like us, believe that...
We all know Facebook is awesome for keeping up with friends, sharing about your life, and even distributing ideas. One great new way to get people thinking is to take advantage of the new banner profile with the help of Intellectual Takeout. Here's what one of our banners looks like loaded up on a Facebook profile: If you haven't changed your banner profile, than Facebook is likely ...
In the genre of documentaries revealing the problems with public education, "Kids Aren't Cars" focuses on helping us understand how schools are modeled after a factory system and what we need to do to change them. Understandably, treating kids as if they are a product to be manufactured has had detrimental effects on children going through the system and the overall level of education in America...
"Many parents and taxpayers feel helpless because the problems can seem so monumental. 'Kids Aren't Cars' director Kyle Olson reviews what he learned in the filmmaking process and the small things individuals can do that will add up to make a big difference." Here's Kyle being interviewed on a few things you can do and share with friends, family, and educators: Part 1Part 2
Education history in America is important to know. ITO traces how education has changed from the colonial period to present day America.
While many documentaries on the education system focus on various examples of failure, "Flunked" takes a bit different tack. While certainly acknowledging and exposing the failures of the system, "Flunked" also seeks out individuals and approaches that ARE working in education. The hope is that these points of hope may serve as examples for others working in education.  Here's the trailer:...
Okay, so your friends and family keep telling you to jump on the social media bandwagon, but you have no idea what the fuzz is about. Here’s the deal: The Internet gives liberty-loving folk like us an opportunity we have never had before: to make the case for individual liberty, limited government and free market economics instantly and globally. But with the vast amounts of information...


Know your rights with Flex Your Rights guide to the "10 Rules for Dealing with Police."
In a highly regulated society such as ours, it's very easy to get yourself in trouble with the law. Learn more about how to protect yourself with the 5th Amendment and how to interact with the police.
Watch "Waiting for Superman" to learn about the problems with the public education system.
Another movie that tells the story of the failing public school model in the United States is “The Lottery”. It takes its own unique look at the systems by focusing on the use of lotteries to choose which children will be plucked from failing public schools and put into more successful public charter schools. Here’s the trailer:  You can watch the whole movie right now with the help of Hulu...
While there are a variety of really good documentaries about the failing public school systems in America, "The Cartel" stands alone in its frontal assault on the teacher unions, particularly those in New Jersey. If you'd like to get an inside look into how some teacher unions operate and the effects they have on education, you'll want to watch "The Cartel."From the movie's website: "This movie...
Curiously, not a few individuals are realizing that their education (K-12 and even college) neglected to provide them with as much understanding of the world as they would like. At Intellectual Takeout, we believe that however you feel about your education, there is still much to be learned. To that end, we'd like to refer you to one book and a collection of "study guides" that serve as...
Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your...
Let's face it, most of us love to watch TV and movies. A wonderful way to spread ideas is to embrace our love of the cinema by hosting a movie night with friends and family.  There are numerous documentaries that do a fantastic job of sharing the ideas of liberty. You can pull a small group of friends together at your house or even consider asking a local restaurant or tavern to let you...
Sure, the idea of homeschooling is likely overwhelming. Indeed, homeschooling is a big commitment and a lot of work. That said, there's a reason why more and more parents are turning to homeschooling as the best option for their child(ren)'s education(s). Perhaps you are starting to realize that the public school system has changed a lot since you last attended it. Maybe you can't afford private...
Looking for an internship? If so, Intellectual Takeout has an opportunity for you. We have plenty of work to do as well as ideas to spread, and we need your help to get it done. If you're interested in an internship with Intellectual Takeout, you likely share our passion and you're excited about the possibility of working for a great cause. That said, you might have a few questions about what "...
How often do you hear conservatives being called a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals? Here's the reality: Conservatism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism have a rich, intellectual heritage reaching back many millennia. Our ideas are not just some historical relics from bygone eras; they are the very foundation of Western Civilization in general, amd the United States in particular....
Sadly (or happily for some), life goes on after college. So does the fight for freedom. Building friendships, networking, and growing the movement is critical after college. If our ideas are to be preserved and promoted, you need to stay involved. Plus, in a time when the individual seems to be ever more isolated and adrift, these groups can help plug you into social networks you can use....
Okay, so we don't expect you to drive a wooden stake into your flat screen. Plus, we're total hypocrites since we watch some TV. But here's the point: People waste a ton of time watching TV. If you're cool with government taking over your future, than keep watching Dancing with the Stars. If you consider yourself to be a free man or woman and want to live in a free society, then watch what you...
A great way to make a difference on your campus by spreading the ideas of individual rights, limited government, and free markets is to tutor. Plus, you can occasionally make a little bit of money. Depending on the subject matter, you will be discussing a variety of ideas, key thinkers, and theories. As anyone who has tutored knows, there are almost always opportunities to expand upon a topic....
The Association of American Educators (AAE) advances the teaching profession through personal growth, professional development, teacher advocacy and protection, as well as promoting excellence in education so that our members receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve.

On Campus

We've built Intellectual Takeout to provide you with quick, easy access to information. In time, we hope to become your one-stop-shop for the ideas of freedom. If your professor allows you to bring your laptop to class (if not, you can use an iPhone), we recommend keeping a tab open to Intellectual Takeout. As we continue to generate new content on the site, you will be able to fact check the...
When it comes to campus life injustices, student fees rank high on any list. On most campuses across the country a mandatory student fee is assessed to each student at the beginning of the year. A portion of this fee, which may be several hundred dollars, will go toward funding various political, religious, and interest groups.  A college requiring you to support groups espousing ideas which...
If you're not happy with the direction of the country and you want to take back your future, at some point you will have to do something. It's not enough to just know that we're going in the wrong direction. You actually have to step out and get involved. Most college campuses have conservative and libertarian student groups. Find one of them to join. Below is a list of some of the larger non-...
Now that you're at college and the initial excitement has worn off, maybe you're thinking that the course selection is a bit biased and you'd like some options. So how do you (the consumer) get the college (the business) to change up its offerings? It certainly won't be easy. Nevertheless it's something that should be done--particularly since you're footing the bill. A good, education in a free...
Whatever activism you choose to do on campus, you need to get your story out. A popular tactic used by the Left is to isolate and intimidate freedom-loving students. You're not alone and there are a lot of people in your city, state, and country that can probably support your efforts. They just need to know what is happening. Whenever you can, record in-class bias, discrimination against...
The reality is that most students (and people for that matter) won't speak out. It's called human nature and it was recognized in the Declaration of Independence: "...all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." While you might feel alone when debating a teacher,...
In the land of the free and the home of the brave, speech codes are a particularly odious example of politically correct repression on many a college campus. In some ways, college campuses are the least free places for thinking and speech in America. Your best friend for fighting your school's repressive speech codes is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Here's a short clip...
Running for office isn't easy, even in college. Not everyone is cut out for it, either. For those of you who are, this completely non-partisan section is for you. If you are inclined to pursue student government, we're not going to spend time on telling you how to get elected. A good place to go for ideas and training is Rather, we want to help you in office, as a believer in...