In the face of protests about the violence of capitalism just outside the door, Steve Forbes’ appearance on campus hit back against regulation and extolled the moral and social virtues of free enterprise.
Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, gave a talk at Ingraham Hall on Tuesday organized by Young Americans for Freedom. The talk was preceded by a protest led by Student Coalition for Progress, which was co-sponsored by several other student and community organizations.
The protesters said they opposed Forbes’ ties to white nationalism and declared capitalism is a violent ideology.
Larissa Stewart, a representative from Madison Feminist Directory, advocated for disabled people. She said capitalism is “inherently violent for people with disabilities.”
“Simply as existing as a person with a disability my life is expensive,” Stewart said. “‘Capitalism will save’ is really incorrect … [it] actually harms a lot of groups.”
A member of International Socialist Organization spoke, and was followed by Alex Gillis from Union de Trabajadores Inmigrantes. He was interrupted by a pro-capitalist individual Tyler Pull who attempted to counter Gillis’ point.
“I assumed, and I was right, that when I came here I would find people slandering an ideology that I find is effective at helping people,” Pull said. “If that goes unchecked too long it will spread like a cancer and corrupt more and more people into abandoning a system that is best at pulling people out of poverty.”
Following the exchange, the crowd of about 30 people broke into multiple groups, each holding their own heated conversations. UW-Madison sophomore Cahleel Copus and Brian Thornton, Jr., founder of the website Subversive Liberty, also brought their contradicting ideologies to the protest. They engaged protesters in debate surrounding their libertarian ideologies.
Moments after 7 p.m., when Forbes’ talk began, the crowd began to disperse, but many stayed for close to an hour. UW-Madison graduate student CV Vitolo-Haddad diffused tensions by giving a brief speech.
Forbes’ talk began with him explaining his own definition of capitalism, before talking about how capitalism humanizes people and makes everyone’s lives better.
“When allowed to operate, free markets turn scarcity into abundance,” Forbes said. “Meeting the needs and wants of people, that’s what makes the thing so productive.”
During his talk, Forbes addressed several pertinent political issues such as the Border Adjustment Tax endorsed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the Trump administration’s Obamacare replacement. He was frequently critical of the Republican establishment and referred to the GOP as the party of stupidity.
“[Paul Ryan] and the Republicans have come up with this strange idea called the border adjustment tax. What it is, is a 20 percent national sales tax on imports,” Forbes said. “We’re gonna subsidize the mullahs of Iran and take from the American consumers. Maybe Alice in Wonderland would understand that but I don’t.”