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Announcement: 2015 V&C Young Scholar and Writing Award Winners

Values & Capitalism is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2015–2016 Young Scholars Awards and writing awards. This year, we received a host of impressive research proposals, essays, and editorial work from talented students around the country. Congratulations to these students, and thank you to all who submitted and contributed to the conversation on free enterprise and faith.

Young Scholar Award Winners

Mckayla Henderson is a senior at Biola University majoring in political science and sociology. Ms. Henderson’s research will explore the disparity between Mexico’s high ranking on the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GOM) and the country’s low economic growth rates. Her project will seek to better explain the cultural, legal, and political dynamics that have stunted growth in Mexico, and will include a case study of entrepreneurs living in Puebla, Mexico.

Joseph Maroney is a junior at Colorado Christian University majoring in business and finance. Mr. Maroney will investigate the tertiary effects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 on regional and state-level banking institutions. His project will analyze how financing to small and medium enterprises has changed since 2010, and will make future policy recommendations.

John Shannon is a senior at Hillsdale College majoring in classics and economics. Over the course of his senior year, he will complete a translation and explication of Domingo Báñez’s commentary on the doctrine of the just price in his 1594 work, Decisiones de lure et lustitia. This project will introduce a new understanding of Báñez’s theory, and seek to contribute to modern discourse on the morality of free enterprise.

Over the course of the year, Young Scholars will complete formal academic papers under the oversight of a faculty sponsor and present and defend their work before a panel of AEI scholars, staff members, and local experts in Washington, DC, in spring 2016. Alongside $5,000 scholarships toward their college tuitions, Young Scholars will receive an invitation to AEI’s 2016 Annual Dinner, a full complement of AEI publications, and opportunities to blog for the Values & Capitalism project.

Journalism Award Winners

Houghton College junior and business major Joseph Gilligan has been selected to receive the V&C Journalism Award for an op-ed in an on-campus publication. Mr. Gilligan’s winning piece, “Minimum Wage: Tilting at Windmills” appeared in the Houghton Star in September 2014, and discusses the consequences higher minimum wages carry in labor markets across the country:

When labor is costly and can be replaced by machines, most businesses invest in capital intensive systems. Even in the US, we are now witnessing technology replace the demand for workers. Check out your local bank with half the amount of tellers as it had ten years ago. Home Depot has automated cashiers. At Applebee’s, your “Neighborhood Grill and Bar,” don’t expect Flo, your favorite, neighborly waitress, to take your nachos order in the future. “Presto”—the tablet computer—has secretly been added to your table, next to the salt and pepper shakers.  Since Presto works for free, should we tip Presto more than the customary 15%? People with no experience or no diploma find it hard to enter the workforce. They are impeded from opportunity of economic mobility into future, better jobs. You won’t move up the ladder if you can’t get on the ladder.

Joshua Romero is a senior studying political science at Wheaton College. He has been selected for the V&C Journalism Award for an op-ed in a professional publication. His piece, “Taxi industry should get out of the way,” was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette in July 2015. Mr. Romero argues for an economy that embraces innovative and disruptive companies like Uber:

Inhabitants of the Western world are heirs to the quality of life that capitalism has created through creative destruction. However, all too often we as humans forget to take this big picture view of things and get caught up in immediate concerns that promote protectionist, anti-growth policies . . . For far too long, the taxi industry has benefited from a regime of cronyism that has erected high barriers to entry (a French medallion on the secondary market can cost about 200.00 euros, or $219,000), kept the cab supply artificially low, and thereby kept prices higher than they ought to be. The effect of this protectionism and over-regulation has been to stifle the creativity and developments that promote a higher quality of life. Uber’s services are undercutting the government-enforced monopolies that the taxi industry has enjoyed.

Alongside $2,000 scholarships toward their college tuitions, Mr. Romero and Mr. Gilligan will receive an invitation to AEI’s 2016 Annual Dinner, a full complement of AEI publications, and opportunities to blog for the Values & Capitalism project.

Essay Award Winners

Baylor University junior Rachel Lanier has been awarded first-place for her essay offering a moral defense of the free enterprise system. Ms. Lanier’s work, entitled “The Morality of Self-Interest: A Thomistic Approach,” discusses the theological affirmations of self-interest and its place within religion and the free market. She invokes the medieval theologian:

St. Thomas [Aquinas] affords self-preservation its venerable position within natural law. All things possess an innate desire for self-preservation, he states, ergo it is only right that man should heed it . . .  Capitalism successfully harnesses man’s legitimate concern for himself, linking his interests to the interests of others in order to provide for the needs of all.

Miss Lanier will receive a $5,000 scholarship towards her tuition.

Incoming Cedarville University freshman Caroline Clauson has been selected as the second-place Essay Award winner. Ms. Clauson’s essay explores human nature and motives within markets. She states:

An ancient, unbroken record of sinners have shown that a social system cannot discipline souls to selflessness. Only man’s Creator can give him a new heart, and even new hearts stumble into old ways . . . Capitalism teaches and reinforces that telling the truth, negotiating, and seeking to satisfy another’s wants generates the greatest reward—that leaving his neighbor unbound, safe, happy, free, reciprocates by satisfying his separate needs and desires too.

Ms. Clauson will receive $2,500 in scholarship towards her academic tuition.

Bethel College junior Brett Baumgartner has been awarded third-place for his essay entitled “Unintentionally Beneficial.” Mr. Baumgartner discusses the competing concepts of “magnanimous” and “mundane” morality, proposing that the latter carries more theological and societal value. “Mundane morality and the market system are guided by positive sum transactions that have unforeseeable, limitless benefits while magnanimous morality is guided by a transfer of possessions that only helps one party,” he argues.

Mr. Baumgartner will receive $1,000 in scholarship towards his tuition.

All V&C Essay Award winners will also receive an invitation to AEI’s 2016 Annual Dinner, a full complement of AEI publications, and publication of their essays on the Values & Capitalism blog.