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Values & Capitalism on Campus: Seattle Pacific University

On May 29th, 2014 our program development associate accompanied AEI scholar Andrew Biggs on a visit to Seattle Pacific University.

Over dinner with Professor Geri Mason’s Intermediate Macroeconomics class, Dr. Biggs answered questions on a wide-range of topics, including the future of Social Security, Thomas Piketty’s new book, and discerning calling. Biggs described his own journey—from his education in England to his work with Congress, the Social Security Administration, the White House, and now AEI. He advised the students to follow his lead: figure out what you like, and work really hard at it.

Later, Dr. Biggs gave a lecture about the history and future of Social Security. For most government programs, he said, we question whether they work or not and reform them accordingly. Yet for Social Security, we tend to simply ask whether we should give the program more or less funding. If the program is going to last and fulfill the promises that it has made, that must change. He suggested a reformed system that encourages personal savings and provides a flat benefit at the poverty level for all citizens. Whatever the solution, something has to give. With demographic shifts and the current structure of the system, the math simply doesn’t work, Biggs said. Several students stayed after the lecture for continued discussion.

Also on the trip, Tyler Castle met with John Terrill, director of SPU’s Center for Integrity in Business (CIB). The Center partners with churches and local businesspeople to cultivate a holistic Christian worldview in the sphere of business. CIB conducts field studies at local, faith-centered businesses with groups of young business leaders. It will also be releasing an in-depth guide to what it means to have integrity (or shalom, as Terrill described it) in business.