Forbes CEO talks socialism and student debt

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 11:40pm

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, gives his talk How Free College and Health Care Will Destroy America Tuesday evening in the Michigan League during an event hosted by the campus Young Americans of Freedom Chapter.

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, gives his talk How Free College and Health Care Will Destroy America Tuesday evening in the Michigan League during an event hosted by the campus Young Americans of Freedom Chapter. Buy this photo
Kelsey Pease/Daily

Young Americans for Freedom brought Steve Forbes, the chairman of Forbes Media Company, to the Michigan League for a lecture titled “How Free College and Healthcare will Destroy America” Tuesday night. 

YAF, a conservative group on campus, has hosted speakers such as Ben Shapiro, Dinesh D’Souza and Buzz Patterson. Before introducing Forbes as the keynote speaker, Lincoln Ballew, chair of YAF, talked about the mission of YAF.

Forbes shared his opinion on a range of topics regarding government and policy. He started his speech about capitalism and the historical change of American inflation. Forbes went on to discuss the problem with socialism and why he believes it will never work in America. 

“Socialism can try, but it always wreaks havoc,” Forbes said. “The problem with socialism is that it tries to predict the future. You can’t predict the future. Nobody can pretend to know the future, so stop. Socialism thinks it’s predicting the future and that’s why it’s stagnant. It never worked, even in Europe.” 

When the topic of taxes came up, Forbes shared his criticisms on the federal tax income code. Countries such as Canada and Denmark have health insurance completely covered for their citizens, but Forbes argued those benefits come from extremely high taxes and the system would not benefit America. 

“You need to remember that taxes are this: Taxes are a crisis and a burden, not just a means of raising revenue,” Forbes said. “When you raise the taxes, you’re going to hurt people who produce a lot of wealth and resources.” 

Forbes also reiterated the notion nothing is free, and everything that seems free comes from the dollars of tax paying constituents. Forbes said he disagrees with the current tax system in place right now and proposed to replace it with one that is simpler. 

“The federal income tax is old,” Forbes said. “All these rules and regulations, and nobody knows what’s in it. The IRS doesn’t know what’s in it. Nobody knows what’s in it, and it brings out the worst in us. So ultimately, we should get rid of this. Put in place a simple system. For a family of four, the first $52,800 of income would be free of federal income tax. Above that, it will be 17 cents on the dollar. No tax on savings … I make it very simple.”

Aaron Zelmanov, Business sophomore and YAF treasurer, told The Daily he enjoyed hearing Forbes explain his idea for a flat tax. 

“I thought his idea of a flat tax was quite interesting. I know he was a two-time Republican presidential candidate in the ’90s, and he advocated for the flat tax,” Zelmanov said. 

Forbes also touched on the topic of student loan debt. He said he believes universities should play a role in helping students pay back their student debt. The reasoning behind his claim was that the government tried to make college more accessible by funding universities. However, the universities started to expand their resources with government funding, and it caused the price of higher education to drastically increase.

Forbes said universities should be invested in your success post-graduation, including taking some of the load on student debts.

“What should be done about this? Stop, with good intentions, subsidizing the growth of these institutions,” Forbes said. “They should be focusing on what you should be focusing on — your education … One last thing I want to impose on you is this: Colleges and universities should be partially liable for your debts.”

Forbes also mentioned the healthcare system and how the government is handling it. He discussed how the demand for more healthcare should be seen as an opportunity, not a crisis. 

“Why do we have a health care crisis in this country?” Forbes said. “People say, ‘Oh, it’s people like you Mr. Forbes. You’re getting old and you want more services. That makes it a crisis because it’s an issue of affordability.’ You should step back and ask yourself this: Why is the growing demand for healthcare considered a crisis when a demand for everything else is considered an opportunity?”

LSA junior Michael Wolff said Forbes’s analogy about motels and hospitals illustrated the state of America’s healthcare system. 

“I think his comparisons on the healthcare system and how businesses work in real life was really interesting,” Wolff said. “How the worst motel would never put you in a room with a deathly old person to make you uncomfortable, but that’s the total norm in the hospital. So, it’s showing how things that government is handling is quite worse than what the private sector is handling.”