Livingston Lauds Honorable Pursuit of Wealth

Sep 23, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor
In an erudite lecture that cited sources from Aristotle and the Magna Carta to America’s Founding Fathers, Dr. Felix Livingston offered a ringing defense of entrepreneurship that not only pursues profits but does so honorably and in a way that benefits society.

Dr. Livingston, professor of economics and business and director of the Honorable Entrepreneurship Program at Flagler College, delivered the lecture, “Honorable Entrepreneurship,” on Sept. 15 at FSC as part of the Center for Free Enterprise’s Politics, Law, and Economics Lecture Series. A longtime advocate of entrepreneurship education, Dr. Livingston has been a professor at Flagler College since 1999. Among many other accomplishments, he launched a nationally recognized entrepreneurial studies program in Pennsylvania, and he was founding president of the Institution for World Capitalism, Inc., at Jacksonville University.

In his lecture, Dr. Livingston emphasized the need for the rule of law and well-established property rights as essential for entrepreneurship to flourish. These were principles that James Madison and others, influenced by political philosophers through the centuries, enshrined in the Constitution, he said.

“America’s founders believed that our constitutional democracy needed a class of business leaders to preserve the liberty that the patriots had won,” he said.

Dr. Livingston described the honorable pursuit of entrepreneurship as using economic rather than political means to succeed. Resorting to seeking advantages through political means – such as price supports, subsidies, and tax breaks – is usually referred to as “crony capitalism” and it “subverts the rule of law,” he said.

“Honorable entrepreneurs do not engage in activities advantageous to their firms but detrimental to the extending of social order,” he said.

The social order of America rests on three pillars, all of which are needed, he said: a competitive private enterprise system, a constitutional democracy, and a pluralistic moral and cultural system. The proper pursuit of entrepreneurship is in the end a moral endeavor, he said.

“The root system of honorable entrepreneurship is enlightenment, and its taproot is conscience. … (It) can preserve and retell stories of principled deeds worthy of emulation, and unmask the most egregious business practices of crony capitalism.”