Capitalism’s reach

Joe Rowles

Capitalism has touched far more than dollar signs — impacting marriage, family dynamics, childhoods and even gay rights. It’s critical to understand if living standards are going to improve, said Kevin Flohe, a senior economics major at NMU. Its reach, however, goes far beyond that.

“Economics applies to all kinds of issues, many of which maybe they had never even considered before,” Flohe said.

Dr. Steven Horwitz would argue it also drastically impacts a culture’s core values, shaping the very family structure that defines many views on the American Dream. Visiting NMU at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26, to present the lecture “Capitalism and the Family,” Horwitz is an accomplished scholar and author with extensive radio and television experience on his resumé. He has also done nationally recognized public policy work on the role of the private sector during Hurricane Katrina. His audiences have included professionals, students and policy makers.

A recognized expert in the Austrian School of Economics, Horwitz is far more than a number cruncher. The school is known for a belief that individual choice can impact all economic phenomena without outside influence. Put another way, what is valuable to you may not be valuable to your neighbor. Their research delves into understanding the social ramifications of these choices.

Horwitz’s lecture will focus on how marriage has evolved from an institution that was motivated by economic survival to one that is founded instead on romance. The evolution has liberated women and improved the lives of children. There will also be discussion about a rise in divorce rates.

“I think we have put higher expectations on marriage than ever before, so it’s no surprise people are reporting they are disappointed,” Horwitz said. “People are getting divorced because they are unhappy, which wouldn’t be considered as much generations ago.”

Another trend that has occurred as a result of the marriage dynamic changing is the rise in same-sex marriage. This too can be attributed to the emphasis now being placed on love over economics. It’s a change that hasn’t gone unrecognized by freshman political science and pre-law major Jacob Roberts.

“With gay rights, we’ve drifted away from the traditional sense of mother, father, kids. We’ve become more tolerant of what marriage can mean,” Roberts said. “It’s a much more diverse definition.” 

“Families have always changed just like any social institutions,” Horwitz said. “Capitalism has played an important role.”