Publishing Giant Steve Forbes Speaks to KSU Students

KENNESAW, Ga. (Mar 18, 2019) — Famed publishing executive and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes visited Kennesaw State University last week to speak with economics students about alternative tax policies.

The event, titled “Driving Economic Growth through Tax Policy,” was hosted by the Michael J. Coles College of Business’s Bagwell Center for the Study of Markets and Economic Opportunity. Bagwell Center events seek to educate students on the relationship between free-market institutions, individual choice, and economic outcomes.

Steve Forbes at Kennesaw State

Forbes is Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine, which has more than 900,000 subscribers and 27 million unique visitors each month to its online version, making it one of the country’s largest business publications. He also ran for president in 1996 and 2000.

Speaking to a capacity audience in the Burruss Building, Forbes described the existing U.S. tax system as complex and burdensome.

“The income tax code in this country brings out the worst in everyone,” he said. “The federal income tax code and all the regulations and rulings that go with it has about 10 million words and rising. Nobody knows what’s in it.”

He proposes a flat tax system, which would tax all income above $52,800 across the board at 17 percent. With the current corporate tax rate at 21 percent, Forbes believes this would encourage business investment.

“If you lower the cost on things like productive work and risk-taking, you’ll get more of them,” he said. “And the government will get more money when you have a healthy, wealthy economy.”

Steve Forbes at Kennesaw State

Some economists disagree with Forbes on whether a flat tax would benefit the middle class, arguing that it creates a tax burden on residents who, under the current system, owe no income taxes. According to Dr. Tim Mathews, director of the Bagwell Center, introducing business students to controversial ideas and the debates around them is a core theme of his center’s work.

“I hope that students will think more critically about how tax policies impact economic outcomes,” Mathews says. “Ideally, I want Mr. Forbes’s lecture to serve as an impetus for students to examine and analyze these important public policy issues.”

Forbes is one of several prominent economics voices that the Bagwell Center is bringing to campus this month. On March 18, the Bagwell Center will host Dr. Tom Miceli, an economics professor from University of Connecticut. Dr. Ilya Somin, a law professor from George Mason University, will be on campus March 22. These visitors will address topics such as eminent domain, marginal deterrence, and the challenges of developing an informed electorate.

On March 26, the Center is holding its Symposium on the Foundations and Applications of Game Theory, featuring Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Alvin Roth, who is the Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University. The conference will examine how game theory, a branch of science evaluating how multiple decision-makers affect outcomes, can apply to economic markets.

Click here to learn more about the Bagwell Center’s upcoming activities.

-Patrick Harbin