Here are some new before-and-after thoughts.
- I read the obituary of an American named William Niskanen today. I had never heard of him, but I read it because he was intriguingly identified as a “libertarian economist”. I learned that he served in the Council of Economic Advisers under Reagan, and that he was controversial because he spoke his mind bluntly, and therefore embarrassed the government. Throughout his career, he took risky public positions, from condemning tariffs to calling for reduced public spending, and he seemed to like the attention he got whenever he leveled criticism at accepted policy. The writer of the obit, David Segal, kept it simple and short, but he clearly admired the man. I know that I want to know more about him.
- The obit included a fact, however, that reduced the lustre somewhat. It mentioned a speech he gave before a women’s group, while he was in the Administration, where he opined that the reason women were paid less than men was because they interrupted their careers to raise a family. Even in the eighties, though, this was debatable, but it is startling for another reason: it highlights how different our culture is today. I think that today, more than at any time in history, women are raised to believe that they can become a competitive, even dominant force in the economy, and that they don’t have to sacrifice the dream of having a stable, rewarding family life. I’m not saying that most of them will ever achieve that; the odds are against it. But the odds are better today, I think, than it is for men.
- Here’s a TV note. The recent episode on HBO’s “Bored to Death”, the one with Dick Cavett as a guest, reminded me that, with Larry David on hiatus, there was still a place you could find something that seems to have been abandoned by the rest of television: the good, old-fashioned belly laugh.
- I’ll keep you informed on the development of my new mobile application. It’s called Re-Election?™. It’s going to offer a convenient and simple guide to voters on whether to send that clown who’s currently in office back for another term, or to give another clown a chance.