The Market for Ideas Reading Groups provides a forum for students to engage with key texts in economics and related disciplines with a cohort of their peers under the guidance of a Bagwell Center-affiliated faculty member. Each reading group will meet for up to five hours during the semester to discuss readings assigned by the faculty member. Student participants will receive the assigned readings plus a $200 honorarium for each reading group completed. Students are expected to attend and actively participate in their reading group meetings if accepted.

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Remain enrolled as a full-time student in good standing at Kennesaw State University throughout their participation in the Market for Ideas Reading Groups.
  • Attend and actively participate in all scheduled programming.
  • Arrive on time and prepared for each meeting, having carefully read any assigned readings in advance.
  • Participants are also encouraged to attend Bagwell Center events and to build relationships with other participants and Bagwell Center faculty.

The deadline to apply is August 19th, 2024.

Market for Ideas Reading Groups Spring 2024
Questions?
  • Book 1: The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America 
    Faculty Leader Dr. Burt Folsom
    Meeting Dates: 9/11, 9/18, 9/25, 10/2
    Meeting Time: 2:00pm - 3:15pm
    Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description: The Myth of the Robber Barons describes the role of key entrepreneurs in the economic growth of the United States from 1850 to 1910. The entrepreneurs studied are Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, James J. Hill, Andrew Mellon, Charles Schwab, and the Scranton family. Most historians argue that these men, and others like them, were Robber Barons. The story, however, is more complicated. The author, Burton Folsom, divides the entrepreneurs into two groups market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs. The market entrepreneurs, such as Hill, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller, succeeded by producing a quality product at a competitive price. The political entrepreneurs such as Edward Collins in steamships and in railroads the leaders of the Union Pacific Railroad were men who used the power of government to succeed. They tried to gain subsidies, or in some way use government to stop competitors. The market entrepreneurs helped lead to the rise of the U. S. as a major economic power. By 1910, the U. S. dominated the world in oil, steel, and railroads led by Rockefeller, Schwab (and Carnegie), and Hill. The political entrepreneurs, by contrast, were a drain on the taxpayers and a thorn in the side of the market entrepreneurs. Interestingly, the political entrepreneurs often failed without help from government they could not produce competitive products. The author describes this clash of the market entrepreneurs and the political entrepreneurs. In the Mellon chapter, the author describes how Andrew Mellon an entrepreneur in oil and aluminum became Secretary of Treasury under Coolidge. In office, Mellon was the first American to practice supply-side economics. He supported cuts on income tax rates for all groups. The rate cut on the wealthiest Americans, from 73 percent to 25 percent, freed up investment capital and led to American economic growth during the 1920s. Also, the amount of revenue into the federal treasury increased sharply after tax rates were cut. The Myth of the Robber Barons has separate chapters on Vanderbilt, Hill, Schwab, Mellon, and the Scrantons. The author also has a conclusion, in which he looks at the textbook bias on the subject of Robber Barons and the rise of the U. S. in the late 1800s. This chapter explores three leading college texts in U. S. history and shows how they misread American history and disparage market entrepreneurs instead of the political entrepreneurs. This book is in its seventh edition, and is widely adopted in college and high school classrooms across the U. S.



    Book 2:
    FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America
    Faculty Leader: Dr. Burt Folsom
    Meeting Dates: 9/11, 9/18, 9/25, 10/2
    Meeting Time: 3:30pm - 4:45pm
    Meeting Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description: From the acclaimed author of New Deal or Raw Deal?, called “eye-opening” by the National Review, comes a fascinating exposé of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s destructive wartime legacy—and its adverse impact on America’s economic and foreign policies today.

    Did World War II really end the Great Depression—or did President Franklin Roosevelt’s poor judgment and confused management leave Congress with a devastating fiscal mess after the final bomb was dropped? In this provocative new book, historians Burton W. Folsom, Jr., and Anita Folsom make a compelling case that FDR’s presidency led to evasive and self-serving wartime policies.

    At a time when most Americans held isolationist sentiments—a backlash against the stunning carnage of World War I—Roosevelt secretly favored an aggressive interventionist foreign policy. Yet, throughout the 1930s, he spent lavishly on his disastrous New Deal programs and slashed defense spending, leaving America vastly unprepared for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the challenge of fighting World War II.

    History books tell us the wartime economy was a boon, thanks to massive government spending. But the skyrocketing national debt, food rations, nonexistent luxuries, crippling taxes, labor strikes, and dangerous work of the time tell a different story—one that is hardly the stuff of recovery.

    Instead, the war ushered in a new era of imperialism for the executive branch. Roosevelt seized private property, conducted illegal wiretaps, tried to silence domestic opposition, and interned 110,000 Japanese Americans. He set a dangerous precedent for entangling alliances in foreign affairs, including his remarkable courtship of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, while millions of Americans showed the courage, perseverance, and fortitude to make the weapons and fight the war.

    Was Roosevelt a great wartime leader, as historians almost unanimously assert? The Folsoms offer a thought-provoking revision of his controversial legacy. FDR Goes to War will make America take a second look at one of its most complicated presidents.



    Book 3: Social Justice Fallacies
    Faculty Leader: Dr. Brett Katzman
    Meeting Dates: 2/19, 2/26, 3/4, 3/18
    Meeting Time: 11:15 am-12:05 pm
    Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description: The quest for social justice is a powerful crusade of our time, with an appeal to many different people, for many different reasons. But those who use the same words do not always present the same meanings. Clarifying those meanings is the first step toward finding out what we agree on and disagree on. From there, it is largely a question of what the facts are. Social Justice Fallacies reveals how many things that are thought to be true simply cannot stand up to documented facts, which are often the opposite of what is widely believed.

    However attractive the social justice vision, the crucial question is whether the social justice agenda will get us to the fulfillment of that vision. History shows that the social justice agenda has often led in the opposite direction, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. 

    More things are involved besides simply mistakes. All human beings are fallible, and social justice advocates may not necessarily make any more mistakes than others. But crusaders with an utter certainty about their mission are often undeterred by obstacles, evidence or even fatal dangers. That is where much of the Western world is today. The question is whether we will continue on heedlessly, past the point of no return.



    Book 4: Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet 
    Faculty Leader: Prof. Michael Patrono
    Meeting Dates: 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/11
    Meeting time: 1:25pm - 2:15pm
    Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description: Generations of people have been taught that population growth makes resources scarcer. In 2021, for example, one widely publicized report argued, “The world's rapidly growing population is consuming the planet's natural resources at an alarming rate . . . the world currently needs 1.6 Earths to satisfy the demand for natural resources . . . [a figure that] could rise to 2 planets by 2030.” But is that true?

    After analyzing the prices of hundreds of commodities, goods, and services spanning two centuries, Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley found that resources became more abundant as the population grew. That was especially true when they looked at “time prices,” which represent the length of time that people must work to buy something.

    To their surprise, the authors also found that resource abundance increased faster than the population―a relationship that they call “superabundance.” On average, every additional human being created more value than he or she consumed. This relationship between population growth and abundance is deeply counterintuitive, yet it is true.

    Why? More people produce more ideas, which lead to more inventions. People then test those inventions in the marketplace to separate the useful from the useless. At the end of that process of discovery, people are left with innovations that overcome shortages, spur economic growth, and raise standards of living.

    But large populations are not enough to sustain superabundance―just think of the poverty in China and India before their respective economic reforms. To innovate, people must be allowed to think, speak, publish, associate, and disagree. They must be allowed to save, invest, trade, and profit. In a word, they must be free.

Apply Now

You can contact econopp@kennesaw.edu with questions about future reading groups.