By Benita M. Dodd
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Freedom Award takes place on November 11 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and is keynoted by John Stossel.
Through the years, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has presented the prestigious Freedom Award to a notable Georgian who has exemplified the principles of private enterprise and personal integrity.
Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Flowers Industries chairman emeritus William Flowers, the former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy; Deen Day Smith, chair of the Cecil B. Day Investment Company; former Governor and United States Senator Zell Miller; former Southern Company president Bill Dahlberg, Medal of Honor recipient General Raymond G. Davis, United States Marine Corps; United States Senator Phil Gramm; Henry F. (Hank) McCamish, founder and chairman of the McCamish Group and founder of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, and Rogers Wade, former president (and current board chairman) of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
This year, as the Foundation celebrates 25 years of, “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives,” the Foundation is honored to present the Freedom Award to Dr. Michael H. Mescon, the genesis of a free enterprise education movement that has spread across across the globe, influencing thousands of teachers and millions of students: the man who held the first-ever Chair of Private Enterprise, established in 1963 at Georgia State University. Today, there are more than 200 Chairs of Private Enterprise.
Dr. Mescon’s list of accomplishments is astonishing. The article below was written by Kathryn Johnson of the Associated Press and published in August 1973, just 10 years after the Chair of Private Enterprise was established at Georgia State.
Chair of Private Enterprise Waging War on ‘Economic Literacy’
By Kathryn Johnson
Atlanta, Ga. (AP) – With consumerism and the shrinking dollar baffling the average American, Georgia State University’s Chair of Private Enterprise is quietly waging war on economic illiteracy.
Inflation, export quotas, Phase 4 and fiscal policy often are meaningless words to many until they shop at a supermarket where the prices are high and the stocks low, or try to buy gas at a station out of gas.
Most students do not understand how the American economy works, said Dr. Michael H. Mescon, the enterprising young professor who occupies the Chair. “The private enterprise system has been very poorly merchandised, he said in an interview.
The concept of the Chair, the first of its kind, was established 10 years ago. It has served as a model for four others – at Samford, Texas Christian, East Carolina and Akron universities.
While most academic chairs are occupied by educators who only teach and write, Georgia States’ does far more – it reinstructs economics teachers on the relevance of today’s economy through workshops, seminars and lectures.
The chair not only is devoted to private enterprise but is financed by it.
“It’s a two-way love affair says Mescon of the Chair’s unique sponsorship. More than 200 individuals and corporations in the Atlanta area and the Southeast support it, usually with modest amounts. The antipathy f some students toward big business is the result, Mescon says, of the failure of business to sell or inform young people on the basic precepts which undergird American life.
‘I like profit’
Describing capitalism as “a culture, a style, a way of life,” Mescon says, “I like profit. I like the sound of it, I like the spelling of it.
“To me, profit represents to business what bread and water are to the individual. Without them, you die. Without profit, business can’t survive.”
The college’s Center for Business and Economic Education, which comes under the Chair, introduces pupils from kindergarten on up to the fundamentals of private enterprise and its relationship to every faces of national life.
More than 160,000 students in seven Georgia counties have been aided by the Center on understanding inflation, shortages, rising interest rates and their own role as consumers, said Mescon.
“When I talk about capitalism, I’m suggesting we create a system that never before existed,” said Mescon, a slim, dark-eyed man who also is chairman of the college’s Department of Management.
“Capitalism is a way of life, but it has its problems and definitions. One of the most serious problems is that those who enjoy the benefits of the private enterprise system sometimes attack it or abuse it out of ignorance.”
An untiring salesman of private enterprise, Mescon feels that, “being an entrepreneur is just as challenging as being an astronaut.”
Too many young people today, says Mescon, regard profit as “a dirty word,” but Mescon feels this apparently is changing since more than twice as many persons have applied for the Center’s workshops this year.
Increased interest in the courses also has been stirred by today’s baffling economy, Mescon says.
“The graduate students and many teachers have never gotten beyond the ‘robber barons’ in America’s economic history,” said Dr. Theodore Borden, Harvard-trained director of the Center.
Some still relate labor-management relations to the 19th-century level. We’ve had to drag them into the 20th century.”
Mescon delivers hundreds of lectures a year on private enterprise to groups all over the country and has been dubbed a one-man promoter and prophet of private enterprise.
He says the Chair has come under attack from both the extreme right and left. But he considers it a positive effort to communicate the precepts of private enterprise – and also some of its romance and excitement – to a generation who equates it in the province of a cash register.
Click here to find out more about the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Freedom Award on November 11 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The keynote speaker is John Stossel.
Benita Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.