Short-Term Thinking & the Decline in Values
THE REWARDS OF PATIENT CAPITAL
Ed. Note: The following is the text of a speech delivered recently to the Securities Industry Association, meeting at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
It was suggested that I explore with you today the issue of “economic literacy” — because it is believed that too many Americans are ignorant about the dynamics of our economic system. I assumed, after my failed attempt to take over the Evening News Association last year, that your program committee was determined to bring on one of the more ignorant of those Americans!
So, because I know less than you about economic literacy, I’d like to go beyond discussing the Federal Reserve Board, the M-1 money supply, or the workings of the stock market — to explore an aspect of economic literacy that I am comfortable with — namely, the values that undergird our economy, and which help define our society.
Let me say up front that I fear for those values, and as a consequence, I fear for the long-term health of the economy — of our country — and of our country’s future.
Those of you who heard me speak at your spring meeting two years ago at Hilton Head may remember that it was the computer that helped crystallize my thoughts on this issue — not the calculations of a computer, but the metaphor of a computer. The computer is now so pervasive in our society, its language and logic so wrapped up in our daily lives, that it is something of a metaphor for our imagination. In the computer mentality, all data is distilled into binary codes, either one or zero — and then elaborate chains of these binary codes are strung together to assemble entirely new “images” of the world.
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