This year's FreedomFest in Las Vegas, as always, hosted several distinguished libertarians and free market economists from around the world. Among the guests was Steve Forbes, the editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the event, and Forbes appeared to enjoy the festivities. In fact, during the event, former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman took the stage donned by two showgirls to proclaim July 19, 2017 to be “Steve Forbes Day” on behalf of his wife and current mayor, Carolyn Goodman.
The publishing executive could be seen throughout the conference taking selfies and talking with anyone who approached him. Circa got the chance to sit down with Forbes and he was happy to touch on a number of topics, including politics and the economy.
What do you think about a college degree as an investment?
"Asking when are you going get out of college is a good thing. Why are the sticker prices going up at four times the rate of inflation? They get the subsidy, they jack up the price, and then you get the loan and then you become an indentured servant. Research shows that after a year or two in the workforce, the grade average means nothing in terms of what you're doing and how well you're going to do. Meaningless. You should take some risks."
What will be the impact of artificial intelligence and automation on jobs?
"A higher standard of living. We've been doing it for years; we just didn't call them robots, because they didn't look like robots that we see on TV. One of the biggest robots in history was the invention of the tractor. So, robots improve our lives. You look at productivity, which means we can put resources elsewhere."
What do you think of Mark Zuckerberg’s belief in a universal basic income?
"So what Zuckerberg is proposing is we go back to pre-1996 [and] trap people. I mean, human nature, what it is, most people, if they don't have to do something, they'll put it off. Having a basic work requirement changes the whole ethos of people. Now they're not just getting a freebie from the government; they're actually putting in some labor to get it. And then they have a desire, ‘Okay I want to improve myself.’"
What is the current state of government infrastructure?
"Well, government infrastructure is in disrepair because government loves to build things, cut the ribbon, [and] get the votes. And then the nitty-gritty, dirty work of keeping the stuff up, they don't do. And if you especially privatize the New York and the New Jersey Port Authority, I guarantee you, you could get a lot done for a lot less."
Why is it important to maintain friendly relations with Russia?
"There was once a fellow called Robert Strouth. He always said, ‘If I was a young man with $100,000, I'd go and invest it in Russia.’ Then he said, ‘If I had a hundred million, I'd still invest a hundred thousand in Russia.’ So, it's got its challenges. And yes, we’ve got problems with Russia. We know that. But there are a lot of other things going on out there, and the media suddenly wants to use Russia as a stick with which to beat the president. Okay, fine, but we've got other items on the agenda, too."