Archive for January 2010
John Mauldin writes an excellent newsletter this week ripping that siren song, “This time it’s different.” I remember in the go-go years of 1997 to 2000, friends would tell me, ‘This time stock valuations are different” or ‘The internet is completely changing the economic fabric of the world.” As it turns out, while innovations like the internet have made a significant impact on human life, they have not re-written the laws of economics. Just as the railroad, automobile, telephone, electricity, airplane and television did not alter the fundamentals of economics. It also turns out that seemingly vital bulwarks of the economic fabric, like the Federal Reserve, designed to ensure that ‘This time it’s different”, are largely failures.
As a sidenote, for those people who said at the election of President Obama that ‘This time it’s different,” perhaps the last year has been a useful education that, in fact, it’s not. Moreover, for those modern worshippers of ‘progress’ in all its manifestations, the last 10 years have made faith in that religion difficult to sustain.
Edward Lazear, formerly President George W. Bush’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, wrote an excellent piece in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. Let us remember that while life with no government would surely be barbaric and intolerable, life with excessive government becomes just as pernicious. That fact remains true whether ‘too much government’ takes the form of socialism, communism or feudalism. We should cast a doubtful and wary eye when told the government can solve all our problems, and that to do so the government needs all of our money.
As an undergraduate, I studied under Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., taking his classes in Elements of Political Theory, Classical Political Philosophy, St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle. It may be a stretch to say that they changed my life, but they certainly changed the course of my intellectual life. Now, more than 12 years into my career, I picked up this little volume of Fr. Schall’s. I found The Life of the Mind enlightening, entertaining and a much-needed reminder of the importance, and yet also the unseriousness, of human life. Read the rest of this entry »
Colleen DeBaise has written a helpful book, The Wall Street Journal Complete Small Business Guidebook, for aspiring and newly-minted small business owners, although I would not call it ‘complete.’ No guide of 250 pages can possibly cover all aspects of small business ownership in a comprehensive manner. Indeed, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) and National Federation of Independent Business’s (NFIB), while offering tremendous resources, do not address all aspects of starting, managing and growing a small business. While Ms. DeBaise’s book has holes, she does a nice job of covering most of the key topics, at least in a basic way. Read the rest of this entry »
You may have noticed that Capitolism has been pretty quiet the past few weeks. I refrained from writing much as I studied for the Project Management Professional (PMP) test. I’ll write about taking that test soon, as well as some reflections on taking a break from writing. As you can see, I have changed the layout of the blog. I think this version uses more of the screen and has a cleaner look, but I’d love your thoughts on this versus the first, blue layout.
In addition, as I mentioned at the turn of the year, more improvements are coming to Capitolism: new features, writing more consistently, and some guest writers. I’ll also take a look at Four for Thursday, about which a reader recently gave some thoughtful feedback.
Hope you’ll join me for the ride.
A few years ago, I read Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers. That book so intrigued me that I wanted to read his first book, Investment Biker, about his 1990 to 1992 travel across the globe. Other books intervened, and I only just finished reading this book. Even though it relates events from two decades ago, I found it enlightening, punchy and fascinating. Read the rest of this entry »
As I have noted previously, the world could do without most business books – certainly the ones written today. However, we can find considerable business wisdom in some of the business books of the past, and even in many non-business books. Given this situation, I find it valuable to review books written long ago. This post contains the first, but readers will see many more books of the past reviewed on Capitolism in the future.
Peter Drucker wrote Adventures of a Bystander in the late-1970s as a sort of memoir. He figures not as the main character, but usually as an observer of others. This explains the title, and, to a certain extent, his life as well. Mr. Drucker rarely managed in organizations himself, or took action, or made business decisions. He keenly observed others doing those actions, and reflected profoundly on their successes, mistakes and failures. He states as much early in the book: “Bystanders reflect – and reflection is a prism rather than a mirror.” Read the rest of this entry »