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Free Market Heroes, Vol. 3: John A. Allison

Not everyone is born a freedom-loving Constitutionalist.  If they were, there would be no need for the Libertarian Party.

Unfortunately, the fight for less government is as much a legislative process as it is an education process.  In fact, the legislative process is much easier when there is an educated electorate, who elects qualified and competent legislators. 

While the Libertarian Party seeks to elect Libertarians to office and push public policy in a Libertarian direction, the libertarian movement seeks to educate the electorate about free market principles, individual liberty and the dangers of an overbearing government. Education is crucial to both electing the right people, and keeping the public informed and knowledgeable.

This is why John A. Allison, the chairman and CEO of BB&T, is the Libertarian Party's Free Market Hero for the week. 

In addition to running one of the nation's largest banks, Allison and BB&T fund programs at more than 40 universities that teach the moral defense of capitalism.  "Although each of these programs differs in its composition and mission," says Clemson University's business profile of BB&T's charitable programs, "all are united by a commitment to teaching and research on the moral foundations of capitalism."

Through contributions to organizations like the Ayn Rand Institute and universities across the nation, Allison has begun to build the foundations for a future electorate who not only understands the issues surrounding the defense of capitalism, but also desires to see capitalism protected and advanced.

In a demonstration of Allison's steadfast commitment to principled leadership and capitalistic values, following the landmark Kelo decesion, Allison decided that BB&T would not do business with developers who looked to develop land seized as a result of eminent domain.  "The idea that a citizen's property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided; in fact it's just plain wrong," Allison remarked after the decision.

"We're a company where our values dictate our decision-making and operating standards. From that standpoint, this was a straightforward decision; it's simply the right thing to do," BB&T chief credit officer Ken Chalk told USA Today.

After 20 years at the head of BB&T, Allison will soon be stepping down.  But the man who assigns Atlas Shrugged to all of his execs and helped grow BB&T into a banking juggernaut, still plans to continue his mission to promote the virtues of capitalism. "In retirement, Allison plans to write books about the role of values in effective leadership and the evolution of the U.S. financial system," as well as working with collegiate participants in BB&T’s Moral Foundations of Capitalism program, says The News & Observer.

“It is important to us that any program we support meets the highest academic standards and encourages students to hear all points of view,” said Allison, after giving $3.5 million to expand the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism. "There is overwhelming evidence that capitalism produces a higher economic standard of living, which is why there needs to be a deeper understanding of the morality of capitalism and its causal relationship to economic well-being.”

Therefore, for his work in educating college students across the nation about the moral defense of capitalism, John Allison is our Free Market Hero of the week.