Guest speaker outlines demise of free-market capitalism in America

Despite scheduling an event on a day devoted to romance, Luigi Zingales was able to gather an audience for a lecture meant to tickle the mind.

Zingales, a professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago, spoke to an audience of about 50 people Thursday night, detailing why he believes the American economy and political system are crumbling.

“My impression coming to America is you don’t know how lucky you are that you were born in a country that got it right,” said Zingales, an Italian who immigrated to the United States about 25 years ago.

His talk, titled, “A Capitalism for the People,” focused on the “crony capitalist” system that he says is crippling the United States’ free market system.
“Now in America, people have a lobbying plan before they have a business plan and that is extremely dangerous for the future of this country,” Zingales said.
Zingales was brought to OU with funding from the George Washington Forum and the Alexander Hamilton Society.

Arguing that the practice of getting the government “in your pocket” has only worsened since the financial meltdown in 2008, Zingales claimed that excessive government regulation and subsidy, paired with immoral lobbying, have wounded free-market principles the country was built on — leading to a populist backlash.

“It really hurt me to see during the crisis that people started to become completely cynical about what the government was doing,” he said.
Evan Ecos, co-president of the Ohio University chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, a national organization that focuses on sponsoring diverse political debate, said he loved the speaker and the ideals he represented.

“He represents the society because his presentation makes political points but at its heart, it’s apolitical,” Ecos said. “I think there’s a lesson to learn for everyone in some things he says.”

Robert Ingram, an associate professor of history at OU who runs the forum, said he believes it serves students, faculty and community members to have a lively political debate.

“In a democracy, your side is going to lose at some point. If that’s the case, would you rather resent the other side or would you rather be able to understand how the other side thinks?” he said.

dd195710@ohiou.edu

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