It may be one of my only clear contributions to my three year-old son Brendan’s outlook on life that every time he tries to build something or figure out how a new toy works and gets it wrong, he says to himself, “Whoops. Try again.” And then he tries it again. I give myself credit for this because ever since he has been able to manipulate things with his hands, I’ve been telling him “Try again” every time he didn’t get something right. I don’t pretend that such failures are the same as success. The point is not to be afraid…
Robert Samuelson, in his columns for the Washington Post, has done wonders in explaining stuff to econ idiots like yours truly. Lately, he has called attention to the economy’s lousy productivity growth (we’ve been puttering along at 0.9 annual growth) and the striking decline in U.S. entrepreneurship, as measured (principally) by business formation.Those trends are closely associated, and neither is explained by the great recession. What’s happening?
Good sense, said Descartes at the beginning of the Discourse on Method, is the most evenly-distributed thing in the world. However displeased we may be with the distribution of anything else, each of us believes that we have a sufficiency of it (unlike, he might have added, everyone else).
I suppose the question of who are the wise men and who the fools will never be settled once and for all—certainly not in matters that touch on politics. For my own part, though not over-endowed with political perspicacity, I am often surprised by the utter foolishness of the great ones of the world. They seem to me to take the Bourbons, who learnt nothing and forgot nothing, not as a warning but as a model. Over and over they make the same mistakes and fall prey to the same illusions. It is almost as if ineducability were the key to success in a political career. That, or naivety.