The Market for Ideas Reading Groups

The Market for Ideas Reading Groups provide 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 a total of four hours per semester to discuss readings assigned by the faculty member. Student participants will receive the assigned reading materials, plus a $200 honorarium for each reading group completed (each individual student can potentially participate in up to 4 reading groups).

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 Friday, August 26, 2022.

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Fall 2022 Offerings 

Book: FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties
Author: Dr. Burt Folsom
Faculty Leader: Dr. Burt Folsom
Meeting Dates: 9/15/22, 9/22/22, 9/29/22, 10/6/22
Meeting Time: 12:30pm-1:45pm
Location: KSU’s Main 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: New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America
Authors: Dr. Burt Folsom
Faculty Leader: Dr. Burt Folsom
Meeting Dates: 9/15/22, 9/22/22, 9/29/22, 10/6/22
Meeting Time: 2:00pm-3:15pm
Meeting Location: KSU’s Main Campus

Book Description: In this shocking and groundbreaking new book, economic historian Burton W. Folsom exposes the idyllic legend of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a myth of epic proportions. With questionable moral character and a vendetta against the business elite, Roosevelt created New Deal programs marked by inconsistent planning, wasteful spending, and opportunity for political gain -- ultimately elevating public opinion of his administration but falling flat in achieving the economic revitalization that America so desperately needed from the Great Depression. Folsom takes a critical, revisionist look at Roosevelt's presidency, his economic policies, and his personal life.

Elected in 1932 on a buoyant tide of promises to balance the increasingly uncontrollable national budget and reduce the catastrophic unemployment rate, the charismatic thirty-second president not only neglected to pursue those goals, he made dramatic changes to federal programming that directly contradicted his campaign promises. Price fixing, court packing, regressive taxes, and patronism were all hidden inside the alphabet soup of his popular New Deal, putting a financial strain on the already suffering lower classes and discouraging the upper classes from taking business risks that potentially could have jostled national cash flow from dormancy. Many government programs that are widely used today have their seeds in the New Deal. Farm subsidies, minimum wage, and welfare, among others, all stifle economic growth -- encouraging decreased productivity and exacerbating unemployment.

Roosevelt's imperious approach to the presidency changed American politics forever, and as he manipulated public opinion, American citizens became unwitting accomplices to the stilted economic growth of the 1930s. More than sixty years after FDR died in office, we still struggle with the damaging repercussions of his legacy.

Book: Foxconned: Imaginary Jobs, Bulldozed Homes, and the Sacking of Local Government
Author: Lawrence Tabak
Faculty Leader:
Dr. J.C. Bradbury
Meeting Dates: 9/14/22, 9/21/22, 9/28/22, 10/5/22
Meeting Time: 12:30pm-1:45pm
Location: KSU’s Main Campus

Book Description: When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker stood shoulder to shoulder with President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the White House in July 2017, they painted a glorious picture of his state’s future. Foxconn, the enormous China-based electronics firm, was promising to bring TV manufacturing back to the United States with a $10 billion investment and 13,000 well-paying jobs. They actually were making America great again, they crowed.

Two years later, the project was in shambles. Ten thousand construction workers were supposed to have been building what Trump had promised would be “the eighth wonder of the world.” Instead, land had been seized, homes had been destroyed, and hundreds of millions of municipal dollars had been committed for just a few hundred jobs—nowhere near enough for Foxconn to earn the incentives Walker had shoveled at them. In Foxconned, journalist Lawrence Tabak details the full story of this utter collapse, which was disturbingly inevitable.

As Tabak shows, everything about Foxconn was a disaster. But worse, he reveals how the economic incentive infrastructure across the country is broken, leading to waste, cronyism, and the steady transfer of tax revenue to corporations. Tabak details every kind of financial chicanery, from eminent domain abuse to good old-fashioned looting—all to benefit a coterie of consultants, politicians, and contractors. With compassion and care, he also reports the distressing stories of the many individuals whose lives were upended by Foxconn.

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