Wilhelm Röpke, the great architect of West Germany’s post-World War II economic recovery, understood better than most the cultural endowment required for the long-term maintenance of a free-market system. 

[A] sense of justice, honesty, fairness, chivalry, moderation, public spirit, respect for human dignity, firm ethical norms—all of these are things which people must possess before they go to market and compete with each other.  These are the indispensable supports which preserve both market and competition from degeneration.”

During the 2011-2012 academic year, the AHI, thanks to a major grant from the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, will devote its programming to the links between limited government, private property, free markets, and personal freedom. A featured part of that programming will be the meaning of entrepreneurship. One initiative will be to create clusters of AHI undergraduate fellows at different locations to form reading groups.  They will study intensively writings on entrepreneurship by such seminal thinkers as Joseph Schumpeter and Hernando De Soto.

The series will emphasize both theory and experience.  The AHI will book a train of successful businessmen to speak to students about the practical difficulties in the United States and elsewhere of being an entrepreneur given the burgeoning growth of the regulatory state.  “We want to encourage young entrepreneurs,” observed AHI co-founder Robert Paquette,  “and at the same time make them mindful of the statist hurdles, many of them needless, that threaten private property, impede economic growth, and stifle individual prosperity to the detriment of all. As the economic unpleasantness of 2008–particularly the AIG mess–demonstrated, there is a meaningful difference that needs to be drawn between entrepreneurs and rent-seekers, between those who own the means of production and those who seek to control it.  The former speaks to the best values of a capitalist system; the latter corrupts it and threatens vital organs.”