Saturday, April 12, 2014

Introducing Peter Morici

Whenever I come across great authors, I like to share them with The Dog’s readers. (I consider this a form of public service.) In the past I’ve doled out praise for:

Matthew Stewart (on business, history, and philosophy);
Paul Campos (on legal education);
The Popehat (on free speech);
The Irreverent Lawyer (on state bars and the legal profession);
Michael O’Hear (on sentencing law and policy); and, of course
Christopher Hitchens (on religion and, well, nearly everything).

And now it’s time to introduce an absolute gem named Peter Morici, a straight-talking, pull-no-punches, tell-it-as-it-is author, economist, and political commentator. I came across Morici in a podcast called Business Matters from the BBC. Here is a summary of some of his arguments that ring true louder than a church bell, and also debunk some often unquestioned conventional wisdom:

In response to politicians’ claims about the importance of elections: “Politicians in democracies are always trying to tell us that ‘this is the most decisive election that we’ve ever had; not since Abraham Lincoln became president was anything so decisive.’  And we believe them, because we want to believe that we are important in history. . . . Cultural attributes don’t get changed with an election, and no single leader can change a country. . . . It takes a truly disruptive event to change a culture. . . . Elections are like steering a battleship. Countries are like battleships.  You can’t turn them just because you decide to spin the wheel.”

In response to conventional wisdom about Greece and the Euro: “The Euro really doesn’t make sense for Greece.  The decision was made on an emotional basis, this notion of one Europe, this notion that if you have a single currency all the sudden you’re going to have a single Europe.  Well, look at the Ukrainian crisis.  Europe is incapable of mounting the kind of effort that it needs to because it doesn’t have a unified defense structure and a unified foreign policy . . .  Every twenty-five or fifty years some fool comes along and thinks he can solve the problems of the world with a  single currency.  Well, that fool is Angela Merkel.  She’s a Ph.D. and physicist, but on economics she’s spread darn thin. . . . Political will is different than economic sense.

In response to the popular claim that Greece’s economy is now growing: “Greece has not become competitive all of the sudden . . . What they’ve done is manage to balance their books by unemploying 25 percent of the people.  If I put everybody in Greece out of a job and shut down the government, and tell everybody to just forage in an uncivilized state, Greece will have a balanced account. . . . If you shrink the economy by 25 percent, and then grow it one percent per year, you’ll never catch up, and that’s the Greek situation. . . . It is a myth that they’re successful.  This is simply a political fabrication for the benefit of the German Chancellor.

I love this guy! And the thing about economists is that their skill set qualifies them to talk about a wide range of topics (unlike lawyers, who are often in deep waters when delving into non-law topics—not that it ever stopped me from running my mouth). Be sure to check out some of Morici’s very readable work on topics ranging from tax reform, to the fall of Bitcoin, to the unionization of college athletics.


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