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The University of Arkansas’ Certificate for the Study of Capitalism program is a non-credit, executive education course called The Logistics of Capitalism based on a course taught there by Wes Kemp, the Executive in Residence, for several years.
Wes Kemp is a former transportation company executive and a class act! I really enjoyed taking this certificate. I wrote briefly back and forth with Wes, and he is an excellent resource.
The course is made up of 4 parts. Each part includes lectures, which are videos, and an associated reading or video component. For example, the first part includes essays from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. With each module, you do the associated reading, then watch the module. They are between 15 and 45 minutes.
As you watch the videos, multiple choice questions pop up on the screen. You need to answer them in order to proceed.
Make sure that you check your local library or BRIDGES/OverDrive for e-books, because I could have gone through the whole course without spending anything on materials.
The platform used is Blackboard, but you need to make sure you’re logged out of other Microsoft Accounts before you login, because I would get login errors if (for example) I was logged into my Hotmail account and then I tried to use my GMail Account to login to the University of Arkansas Blackboard, just a heads up.
Part I. Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal
Part I starts with some lessons and lectures from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Unlike Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s later work, this book, being a series of essays from a range of conservative, objectivist and libertarian thinkers, is more persuasive and nuanced.
I felt like this was a great introduction into Rand’s ideas: that unfettered capitalism should be allowed to proceed, that government should be eliminated except for those functions that protect individual rights, and taxation should be eliminated.
While I strongly disagree with these views, it’s interesting to learn about them.
Part II. Atlas Shrugged
Part II involves reading Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s 900 page tome. This book is very clear on its position: capitalists are geniuses who take all the risk and need to be unregulated, while anyone who dislikes them is an evil communist who will destroy society.
It was a long read, but not as challenging as I expected. Get the Kindle/ebook version! Being able to tab through pages made it a lot easier, especially when it came time to do the lectures and I could digitally search the text, versus trying to flip through the different pages.
Part III. The Free Market Revolution
Part III involved reading The Free Market Revolution. I ended up buying this book (since I wasn’t aware of BRIDGES yet.) Even though I found the book compelling, I disagreed with many of its premises. Similar to Atlas Shrugged, it makes a very simple point and takes it to absurdity – including things like that we should get rid of the FDA, Social Security and other government programs.
It’s a short read though, so I didn’t mind it too much, but I don’t think it’s as applicable as I would have liked. One interesting thing was their statement that the cause of the 2008 recession was the easily accessible access to credit by the federal government’s intervention in the market, which drove up prices until we could no longer sustain the debt. This is in contrast to most economists’ views (who instead place the blame on deregulation), but an interesting thing to consider.
Part IV. Free to Choose
Part IV was perhaps my most favorite part of the course. You watch the set of 10 videos from Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose documentary series. This series, produced in the early 1980s, holds up today. Half of the hour is a PBS-style documentary examining issues related to the free market and the other half is a lively debate.
Even though I disagree with many aspects of Milton Friedman’s philosophy (and many of his beliefs on what would happen in times of recessions didn’t come to pass, for example), he is very affable and he is very persuasive.
Friedman absolutely agreed in the need for government and regulation, which is a breath of fresh air compared to the others in this book. His goal was to make sure government focused its aims on giving everyone the opportunity to pursue their life (giving the example of a woman whose private post office, while profitable and more efficient than the US Postal Service in Rochester was nonetheless a competitor to the US monopoly on mail service.)
I really enjoyed this course. I completed it in about 2 months, and just received my certificate in the mail today!
Pictures don’t really do it justice, it’s a fantastic degree cover and certificate. You can see the actual certificate here:
When I finished, I sent Wes Kemp an email and he was. During the course he was also helpful in resetting two of the quizzes because I accidentally launched the lessons before I had done the reading (in that case – complete the quizzes! You get multiple attempts but if you just close the window without doing them and your hour ticks by, you’ll have to have Wes reset them for you.)
It’s a high-quality certificate, letter, and University of Arkansas cover! The University of Arkansas knows how to treat their executive students right, and I’m really impressed.
I look forward to taking other courses from them in the future.
2 thoughts on “Certificate for the Study of Capitalism”
While not an Objectivist, I’m certainly a free market aficionado, and I wanted to say how much I respect that you were interested to learn more about another way of thinking than your own. That drive for mutual understanding is all too rare these days. Anyway, congratulations on completing the program!
Thanks Steve! Sorry for the delay in approving your comment – I haven’t been blogging much these days so I had a stack of spam comments to go through first.