Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hey Jude

On Monday Jude Wanniski died. Most papers did not cover that. Winniski headed a firm called Polyconomics. Oddly, one of the places that covered his passing was Al Jazeera. Wanniski published the Way the World Works when I was in the middle of my doctoral program. It was a fun volume. He talked about politics in terms of choosing wine - each of us thinks our intelligence on almost anything is better than the group we are with. But he also talked about the fundamentally destructive effects of imposing confiscatory tax rates. He commented that only when capital is maximized can welfare be maximized (he discussed both physical and intellectual capital). Capital, when treated correctly, is not used up in consumption. It becomes the gift that keeps on giving. His discussion of the behavior of crowds anticipated the recent book by James Surowiecki. He called himself a political economist because he understood inherently the linkages of politics and economics.

But there was another side of this guy (*from UCLA by the way). He did not lack in confidence, either in himself or in the wisdom of common decisions. In the second instance that confidence was well placed. In the first however, at times his speech or thoughts far exceeded his grasp. Even with that overstep his contributions to the notions of the effects of tax rates on behavior and the wisdom of the general population should not be forgotten.

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