“We can in a measure learn from the past to avoid a repetition of the same process.”

~F.A. Hayek1

Economics, and the disciplines related to it,  are increasingly becoming needed in higher education.  In an age where increased government spending and suffocating regulation is the norm, we are left to wonder why these policies do not seem to have a positive effect on our citizens and their lives.

The Center for Economic Philosophy at West Liberty University exists because of a generous grant from BB&T.  The Center exists to engage the community in Wheeling and the Ohio Valley.  We desire an open and free discussion on the merits of the free market–we prefer that phrase to the more oft used word capitalism.  We primarily seek to engage those in the business, economic, social, academic, and political environments.  However, we welcome all people and disciplines to this debate.  The Center seeks to raise the following questions (in no particular order):

  1. What is the best way to live?
  2. What is a free and virtuous society, and how does it function?
  3. How does government intervention effect the market?
  4. What type of moral principles are responsible for a productive life?
  5. Why are free markets a beneficial thing?
  6. Why is profit, and the profit motive, necessary for freedom?
  7. What is the difference between free and closed markets?
  8. How may the rule of law support free markets and freedom?
  9. Why does corporate welfare harm the free society?
  10. Does leveling, or redistribution of income, harm society or benefit it?
  11. Does high or low, and simple, taxation encourage entrepreneurship?
  12. What makes for a successful region or city?  How does Wheeling become a thriving city in the Ohio Valley?

These questions above are not meant to be exhaustive.  They are meant as starters for discussion.

As 2009 came to a close markets and budgets around the world were in chaotic cycles, if not distinct downturn.  Presently in 2010, world financial markets are in crisis (see Greece, Spain, and others) and those events have forced to the fore differences and contradictions inherent in “capitalism’s” forms. As our sister center at Wake Forest noted: “The disruption in financial markets, falling levels of GDP in countries around the world, increased unemployment, and significant government interventions into market processes and private capital investment decisions have prompted both calls for a re-examination of the nature of capitalism and defenses of its merits.”

In 2009 the BB&T Center for Economic Philosophy was formed at West Liberty University. We seek to engage faculty, students, and the public in serious and sustained examination of the free market.  We seek to make clear the differences between  other economic systems.  More philosophically, we endeavor to discover and make clear the philosophical foundations of free markets in its various forms:  Rand, Libertarian/Austrian School, Friedman/Chicago School.  None of this would be beneficial, or profitable to us as human beings, if we also did not understand the practical impacts of different market (or non market) systems.That means we do not shy away from Marxist or socialist critiques, but it does mean we aim to have a discussion with the of the critics of the free market.  Like many of the centers instituted across the Southeast, the Center’s program is intended to encourage rigorous and imaginative analysis of the intersection between capitalism, business organizations, the state, and the public good.2

I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

~Atlas Shrugged, Chapter 7



1 F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, 1.

2 See the center at Wake Forest University

A Brief Bio of the Man behind the BB&T Program

Many people do not know John Allison (pictured right).  He was the CEO for BB&T, and recently retired.  Recently, National JohnAllisonReview online spoke of Allison here and here.

BB&T’s pres release on Allison’s retirement.

On September 23, 2008, Allison wrote an open letter (PDF) to the members of Congress on the bailout plan.  In it he claimed that Congress members  should ask for advice from healthy financial institutions–of which BB&T was one.

John A. Allison, IV served as the Chief Executive Officer of BB&T Corp., the holding company of BB&T Insurance Services Inc. from July 1989 to December 2008. Mr. Allison served as the Chief Executive Officer of Branch Banking and Trust Company, Wilson, N.C, a subsidiary of BB&T Corp. until December 2008. He began his service with BB&T in 1971 and served as its President since 1987. He served as the Chief Executive Officer of BB &T Financial Corporation. Mr. Allison has been the Chairman of BB&T Corp., since July 1989. He served as the Chairman of Branch Banking and Trust Company, Wilson, N.C., until December 2008. He served as the Chairman of BB&T Financial Corporation. He serves as a Director of The Financial Clearing House, Independent College Fund and the Global TransPark Foundation. Mr. Allison has been Director of BB&T Corp., since 1986. He served as a Director of Branch Banking and Trust Company, Wilson, N.C. Mr. Allison served as a Director of BB&T Financial Corporation since 1986. He serves as a Member of American Bankers Association and The Financial Services Roundtable. He serves as Member of the Board of Visitors at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill. Mr. Allison holds a BS in Business Administration from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971, an MBA from Duke University, Durham, NC in 1974, graduated at Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University, Newark, NJ in 1981, Honorary Doctor of Letters, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC in 1995, Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, NC in 2002 and Clemson University, Clemson, SC in 2005.

The BB&T Charitable Foundation provides financial support for the Center. West Liberty University is one of many colleges and universities that the BB&T Charitable Foundation supports for programs and initiatives that encourage discussion and debate about free markets. For more information about these  centers, click here.

For more information on BB&T, see the following:


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