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February 1, 2011

Steve Forbes tells UNL students capitalists aren’t evil-doers

by Deena Winter

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A UNL student had a chance to ask magazine scion and former presidential hopeful Steve Forbes one question on a snowy Tuesday morning, and so he asked what advice he would give aspiring entrepreneurs who want to get on the cover of Forbes magazine.

“Succeed,” Forbes deadpanned.

Although he acknowledged halfway through his talk to an auditorium full of UNL students that he was probably talking about “the most boring thing in the world” to them, Forbes was selling capitalism today, and he was selling it hard.

He said there is virtue in business and capitalism — that businessmen like him are not the miserly, greedy villains they’re often made out to be by Hollywood. Have you ever noticed business people are always either “very thin” or “grossly overweight” in Hollywood, he said. Popular culture views commerce as “sorta grubby” and based on greed, he said, and if you succeed in commerce “you make up for your sins by giving back” — which makes it sound like you took something that wasn’t yours in the first place.

He argued that commerce is humane, helps break down divisions between people and helps societies flourish.

“Government doesn’t create money,” he said. “You do.”

He said every economic disaster originates in “massive government errors” and blamed the nation’s current economic woes on the Fed mucking things up by printing too much money and said it’s also hurting the recovery. Although he did say that doesn’t excuse the “avarice, greed and stupidity of Wall Street” in contributing to the problem.

He predicted the dollar would be linked to gold within five years, and that the economy would grow at a rate of 3.5 to 4 percent this year.

He railed against the 9.5-million-word tax code, saying, “You don’t have to travel to the Amazon to see exotic creatures — they’re crawling around in this code.”
Government is necessary to enforce laws, provide sound monetary policy and low taxes and remove barriers to business, he said, but lately the nation has “gone on a binge” with regulations. He claimed the EPA is now preparing to regulate oil spills on farms and ranches, and include milk in its definition of oil.

He lobbied for a more free market approach to health care, rather than the current “hybrid, wacko system” in America or Obamacare.

He also predicted big change coming to education — because skyrocketing tuition rates will not be tolerated. People are beginning to question whether it’s worth it to spend $5,000 on a college Calculus course that they could buy online for $67. College graduates should not be saddled with a “mini-mortgage,” he asked.

Asked by one student if he’d ever run for president again, he said no.
“I’m an agitator,” he said. “I have more fun stirring the pot.”

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