A few years ago, frustrated with the low quality of economic discussion in our nation, I decided that I needed to do something about it. As I did not have the power to cajole the whole country into listening to me, I asked my wife Susan to gather the kids into our library, and I pulled out the old rolling blackboard I keep off in the corner and said, “Guys, this is how the economy works when it works the way it’s supposed to….” And I started drawing things on the board.
My daughter Grace put our video recorder on a tri-pod, pointed it at me, and turned it on. Over the course of a couple of days and five or six sessions, we covered everything from productivity, growth, and inflation to demographics, integration of the economy with capital markets and even international economics. They’re smart kids and they got it, each at their own level. Christopher, age 25 got more than Jack, age 9, but they all got the basic picture. If I couldn’t get the world to pay attention to the economic model which has lifted half of humanity out of the misery of universal poverty and squalor, at least I could get my little corner of the world to do so.
But then, on a whim I sent the videos to my friend and colleague in the financial service industry. This friend and I had been struggling with ways to communicate the basic principles of sound economics and financial theory in ways which would be accessible on a wide scale. A few days after I sent him the videos he called me and told me that not only did he greatly enjoy them, but that he wanted to use the material as the centerpiece of an effort to educate the firm and its clients about the basics of reasoning from a principle-centered point of view about economics and investing.
I was flattered, but I pointed out to him that I was wearing an old stained tee-shirt in the video and that I’m pretty sure I had burped a couple of times, and that I wasn’t sure that was the sort of thing he’d want to send to his clients. He agreed and told me he that he would rent a TV studio for a couple of days and fly me down to do it right.
I did just that. And other than the fact that I wore a button shirt and a blazer over my old ratty tee shirt, and that I took some belch-suppressing antacid before taping, and there were lights and cameras, the setting was pretty much the same: me, chalk and chalkboard. We did six videos, straight through, without any takes as I recall, and with a break for lunch. Later on the video crew added some cool special effects.
I’ve done three private screenings of some of these videos before releasing them publicly here. In general, the response has been far stronger than I ex
Jerry Bowyer is a radio and television talk show host.
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