Steve Forbes spoke to more than 1,300 students and staff in the Grosse
Pointe North High School gym late last week, receiving a standing
ovation following his presentation. His speech was thought provoking, inspiring students on the qualities of leaders, and the burdens of big government.
During the speech Mr. Forbes reminded students that, “The
ultimate source of wealth is the human mind.” He went on to discuss
free enterprise explaining that “Free markets are not perfect
because people are not perfect, but there’s no better system to
make people, as Lincoln put it, improve their lot in life.” He gave
a variety of examples of prominent entrepreneurs who overcame great
challenges to meet success, and explained how our over complicated
tax code has become a burden to the entrepreneurial spirit, saying
that “everything you do now gets taxed.”
The process of bringing Mr. Forbes to Grosse Pointe high
school for a full school assembly was a unique challenge to overcome. For a year, I
met with the administration countless times, even during the summer, to host a speaker. At the time, they cited district policy that prevented the school system from allowing events during the school day. So, our Young Americans for Freedom chapter
advocated for a new policy allowing for assemblies during the
school day throughout the district. We are happy the school board
and district administration finally saw the value in bringing
world-class speakers like Mr. Forbes and to allow a speaker during the school day in front of the entire student body.
After the policy was approved, district and school
administrators worked with our YAF chapter to make the event a
success. The whole event was thought through down to the minute
detail. Our student activities director worked tirelessly to make
sure that the event ran smooth from start to finish, making sure
our chairs were correct, signs were properly placed, the sound
equipment worked, to name a few. We tried to get as many parts of
the school involved with the speech: the cooking students catered
our reception afterward which was held in the student-run school
store, and we presented Mr. Forbes with a hat and jacket designed
by marketing students. Because of this, the event became more than
a speech, but a uniting force.
Forbes’ speech has made it even more evident that our YAF
chapter has become the prominent student group on campus.
Furthermore, his message strongly resonated with students. As an example of
government overreach, Forbes mentioned that cookies that were once sold in our school are now banned due to new regulations. The morning
after his speech, students created a twitter account called, ‘bring
our cookies back’, which is an effort to protest the increasing
government regulation on school lunch plans. This account went viral
gaining hundreds of followers in hours.
Since Mr. Forbes’ speech, we have reached a pinnacle of
discussion about the ideas of free enterprise and limited
government, and the interest in YAF is greater than ever. Students are
realizing that today’s overreaching government is impacting their
daily life, and they desire a change.
Grant Strobl is the former chair of the Grosse Pointe North High School YAF chapter.