MY WORD: Lessons we need to learn anew

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By Bob Pearce

Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of this publication or any organization to which I have belonged. I hold a degree in economics from Duke. I do not profess to be an expert. An economist, to me, is someone who spends years, maybe a lifetime, studying some arcane numbers and comes up with a theory no one else understands.

The economics fed me in college was based on the opinions of John Maynard Keynes. I didn't understand it then and still don't. It makes no sense. The study of Soviet economics so intrigued me then that my wife, Nancy, and I went to the Soviet Union in 1995. How they managed to keep 300 million people prisoner for years still mystifies. Are we headed that way?

In the 17th Century Samuel Johnson said, "Whatever you make, spend less." The late Howard Pearce said, "You can go in debt for a house or a business, but for anything else, if you can't pay cash, you don't need it.”

We have adhered closely to that charge. It may have cost us opportunities for real wealth – or kept us from going broke.

I believe God put a gene in us for survival, which may be the same as competitive instincts. Some, like Tiger Woods and Bill Gates, seem to have more of that gene than the rest of us. The short book The Outliers tells us these successes were achieved only after an average of 10,000 hours of practice.

I once told a gifted pianist, “I'd give anything to be able to do that.”

He said “No you wouldn't. If you would, you could.”

The Lord shorted me on that gene, but I greatly admire and am thankful to those who have it.

Admittedly, I was in the wrong curriculum in college, but I found out too late to change it. It has, however, helped me to understand the wisdom of Rose and Milton Friedman's book Free to Choose.”

That should be required reading for every senior high school and college student. If you have time, also read Adam Smith's 975 pages of The Wealth of Nations, published in 1750.

Our present government seems to think they have a mandate to change every phase of our lives from health care to banking. What ever happened to "government by and for the people”? I agree with Thomas Jefferson: The only function of government is to keep us from harming each other.

Stay tuned.


Retired business owner Bob Pearce lives in Shelbyville.