Politicians like to tell people what they want to hear - and what they want to hear is what won't happen.
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American society was economically ill-run in the 1980s. Our society has been on a consumption binge. If the American people had a town meeting and said, 'What do we care about posterity? Posterity hasn't done anything for us; we're going to whoop it up now,' that is a rational judgment. But nobody ever did that.
I think that it's more important for an economist to be wise and sophisticated in scientific method than it is for a physicist because with controlled laboratory experiments possible, they practically guide you; you couldn't go astray. Whereas in economics, by dogma and misunderstanding, you can go very sadly astray.
My family was well off but not rich. I spent the four years I was an undergraduate working on the beach. And it wasn't because I was lazy; it was because my freshman class would go to a hundred different employers and wouldn't get a nibble. That was a disequilibrium system. I realized that the ordinary old-fashioned Euclidean geometry didn't apply.