Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Taxes, Capitalism, Free Markets | Tags: The Shortest Graduation Speech, Organized Common Sense, Nobel Econoist Thomas Sargeant
From the Archives, 4/20/14
Economists Craig Newmark and AEI’s Mark Perry dug up Nobel economist Thomas Sargent’s shortest U.S. graduation speech ever. A simple list of twelve valuable economic lessons. The speech was delivered at his undergraduate alma mater University of California at Berkeley, May 16, 2007.
“I remember how happy I felt when I graduated from Berkeley many years ago. But I thought the graduation speeches were long. I will economize on words.”
“Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.”
1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.
2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.
3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts, and their preferences than you do.
4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That is why social safety nets don’t always end up working as intended.
5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.
6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their choices. That is why it is difficult for well-meaning outsiders to change things for better or worse.
7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are some promises that you’d like to make but can’t. No one will believe those promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change. This is how you earn a reputation.
8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.
9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do (but not the social security system of Singapore).
10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.
11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government transfers (especially transfers to themselves).
12. Because market prices aggregate traders’ information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.
That is a remarkably valuable short list. Pin it up beside the mirror in your bathroom so you can read it every morning until you know it by heart.
Filed under: Freedom, Intelligence, Iran, Islam, Israel, Law, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Great Americans, The Iran Deal, Vice President Cheney
Former Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at an event at AEI on September 8, a passionate speech about the nuclear deal with Iran and why it is a complete catastrophe. It’s a long speech, but worth every minute. Mr. Cheney explains clearly why it is such a very, very bad deal.
As for me, I was convinced that we were doomed when I learned that President Obama believes that Iran would never actually use a nuclear weapon. If he actually believes that, no wonder he has been such a complete doormat.
He believes that he can turn the problems of the Middle East over to Iran to solve, and get America out of the region entirely. Iran’s quest for intercontinental ballistic missiles does not concern Mr. Obama who envisions himself making a triumphant trip to Tehran to shake the Supreme Leader’s hand.
The Supreme Leader may not be able to bring himself to sign the deal at all, since he hates Americans so much. Shake hands? Not a chance.
The speech is about 35 minute long, followed by a question and answer period.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, History, Freedom, Democrat Corruption, National Security, The United States, Regulation, Bureaucracy, Free Markets | Tags: The Cold War, The Left, William Voegeli
In 1993 after the USSR had dissolved and the Berlin Wall been pounded into souvenirs, Irving Kristol wrote, “There is no ‘after the Cold War’ for me.” Instead, the defeat of Soviet Communism signified only that “the real cold war has begun,” a multi-front civil war against the “liberal ethos,” which “aims simultaneously at political and social collectivism on the one hand, and moral anarchy on the other.” Kristol explained that he had come to believe that “rot and decadence was no longer the consequence of liberalism but was the actual agenda of contemporary liberalism.”
The fight against collectivism hasn’t been won, but remains hard-fought and competitive. The end of the Cold War signaled the demise of socialism and central planning as ideals people fought for, or even took seriously. In 1997 Richard Rorty chided his fellow leftists for their vague desire to repudiate and move beyond capitalism, despite failing to figure out “what in the absence of markets, will set prices and regulate distribution. Until the left comes up with clear compelling answers to such basic questions, he said, it should limit its ambitions to “piecemeal reform within the framework of a market economy.”
These are the first two paragraphs of an essay by William Voegeli in The Claremont Review of Books, and well worth pondering. Is that what the Left is all about? Political and social collectivism on the one hand and moral anarchy on the other? It seems to me that they talk collectivism and supposedly dream of collectivism, but in action, or in the real world they want to make other people equal but put themselves in charge of doing so. They want to control, regulate, force, and make the necessary laws, just like Stalin who starved millions of Ukrainians to death in the Holodomor to enforce collective farming.
Moral anarchy — yes. That’s obvious.
Filed under: Politics, The Constitution, History, Economy, Freedom, Progressivism, Capitalism, Law, National Security, The United States, Bureaucracy, Free Markets | Tags: Inspectors General, No Transparency, FOIA Requests
“If people can’t trust not only the executive branch, but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”
……………………………………………………………President Barack Obama
“I think that this would have surprised a number of the Founders; the whole Constitution is a contract that tried to limit the power of government because governments, all governments, can’t be trusted. Governments have too much power to be trusted.”
………………………………………………………….Charlie Martin, P.J. Media
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Education, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Politics | Tags: Favorite Phrases, Jonah Goldberg, Prager University
Jonah Goldberg stars in a short video for Prager University. We are easy marks. We can be fooled by clever use of language. Take time to stop and appreciate the unraveling of meaning.