This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. Our purpose is to advance civil society and the freedom philosophy and perhaps have a little fun while we're at it.

9/23/09

Once You Read This, Your Troubles Will be Over Forever.




As most of you know, I'm a golfist. Since that word isn't in any dictionary I use, it can mean whatever I want it to mean. One thing it sure doesn’t mean is that I'm good at golf. Although "good" in this case can be a relative term, in absolute terms, I'm terrible. (Already, I digress)
As a golfist, I read lots of golf magazines and books. And since my niece has suggested that I write an essay on pet peeves, I'm going to expound on one of my own pet peeves.

Golf magazines always have a "hook" headline on the front cover. Not to be confused with the shape of the ball flight that has caused people to throw their $400 drivers into the trash, the "hook" I'm referring to is the preposterous headline on the cover that infuriates you so much that you feel compelled to read the article inside even when you know it's an outright lie.
One of my favorites is; "Never Slice Again!"  Seemingly, I have read every article written which promised that result, and I've tried everything that was instructed, but after almost a half a century of golf, at least fifty percent of my tee shots still slice. It's gotten to the point that I don't know if I want to be a good golfer or just an ex-slicer.

By now you may have figured out that this piece isn't about golf or slicing. The above title is the same type of "hook" the golf magazines use to peeve me off. Once you read what I want you to read, your troubles will not be over. In fact, they might just be beginning, because it may change the way you think about problems and solutions, particularly the political ones we are currently facing. And almost everyone hates change even if they don't admit it.

So this opinion piece is about economics.         Huh?        Indulge me once again if you can.
I have never heard a trained economist describe it this way, but my definition of economics is; the study of human nature. One branch of it anyway. And as a way to distill it a bit more, it has been described by an actual economics professor as "a way to approach problems". A methodology for thinking things through, if you will.
People make choices all the time even when they do not realize it, and since utopia is not an option, solving problems means making tradeoffs. Everywhere and always. An economist knows that and it shapes the way he views the world.

The seminal event in my intellectual life occurred when, as a young man, I was given a well thumbed, used paperback book as a gift from a man named Walter Ramsey who was a broker on the trading floor where I worked. I don't know if I believe in fate, but I do believe in good fortune because my life has been one example of it right after another. For me, meeting Walter was fortunate for sure and perhaps even fateful.

The book was Economics in One Lesson, written by Henry Hazlitt. Although I certainly recommend that you read it, I know that most of you won't for one valid reason or another so I will copy the essence of it, as he defines it in "The Lesson".

"the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."

That simple sentence may not seem profound to you right now, but it is. And if you take it to heart, I'm guessing you will agree with that assessment after a time.

Here is what that lesson has done for me;
 I still care what other people think and I still seek their opinions, but my own opinions have been less shaped by what friends think, or what they will think of me if I come to a different conclusion than they do. And I think that although polls have their place, I ignore them even more than I did before I took the above lesson to heart. I replaced those things with my own analysis based on asking myself the question in the quoted sentence. Now, why do I write these things about my approach? It's because of the title of this blog. It's the WHY, in the "what we think and why".

So, I "hooked" you in, and although your troubles are not over forever, I promise that if you take the lesson to heart and apply it to your thinking, you will hit fewer "slices" when you ponder most of the nonsense that the political busybodies foist upon us.
The birdies promised by the "I will mind your own business" crowd, almost always get carded as triple bogeys and the above picture of Fidel Castro and his golfing partner Che playing a match in the Caribbean workers paradise seem to be a good illustration of the consequences of not knowing the Lesson.

A Postscript

Walter, if you are out there, I owe you more thanks than I can ever repay, even if it's likely that you have forgotten the gift, and perhaps even me, for that matter. But another lesson I learned from this event is that sometimes we have an impact on young people by what we say or do that outlives our memories. And that is a par worth making.

2 comments:

Brian Jennings said...

Great writing. Really wonderful.

Grant Davies said...

Thanks for the kind words Brian. I hope that I am improving as I go along.