Friday, October 09, 2009

George Gilder - creativity and wealth

Discovery Institute had a celebration of the life and career of George Gilder yesterday with a live interview by Discovery President George Gilder. George is a senior fellow there: Discovery Institute - George Gilder: He has had a long, distinguished career as a thinker, writer and leader in cultural issues, economics, high technology and more! His annual Telecosm conference attracts leaders in technology and finance. As an undergraduate at Harvard College he was Bruce Chapman's roommate; they are still working together. In a class by Henry Kissinger he wrote a 150-page paper on nuclear arms limitation. He got a C- because it was three days late and was only supposed to be ten pages. Later he used game theory to show that an arms race that is in the technology is relatively stable, but when technology is frozen the race is in numbers and is unstable. So a freeze on testing leads to instability. He rocked the cultural world with Sexual Suicide, later renamed Men and Marriage, where he was the first to take on the feminist movement by predicting how damaging it would be to men. It's still in print after over 35 years. He was instrumental in the supply-side approach in the 1980s that launched 15 years of uninterrupted growth with Wealth and Poverty. It came out just after the 1980 election; Gilder reports that when President-elect Reagan took a copy as a gift when he visited Senator Bob Dole in the hospital. Quoting Discovery:
Mr. Gilder pioneered the formulation of supply-side economics when he served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, as Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and as a frequent contributor to A.B. Laffer's economic reports and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal,. In the 1980s he also consulted leaders of America's high technology businesses. According to a study of presidential speeches, Mr. Gilder was President Reagan's most frequently quoted living author. In 1986, President Reagan gave George Gilder the White House Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
His interest in wealth creation focused on creativity. The Spirit of Enterprise. That led to two decades of detailed work studying entrepreneurs.
That many of the most interesting current entrepreneurs were to be found in high technology fields also led Mr. Gilder, over several years, to examine this subject in depth. In his best-selling work, Microcosm (1989), he explored the quantum roots of the new electronic technologies. A subsequent book, Life After Television, was a prophecy of the future of computers and telecommunications and a prelude to his book on the future of telecommunications, Telecosm (2000). ... His latest work, The Israel Test, relates his work on capitalism to the safety and prosperity of Israel, what Gilder calls "the central issue in international politics" in our time. What critics have hailed as a "unique contribution" to the debate, Gilder argues that hostility toward Israel arises primarily from hostility toward capitalist creativity. How we react to that creativity -- by resenting it or admiring and emulating it -- will impact the future of Israel, the United States, and the world.
Throughout his life his focus has been on opportunity and growth. Grow the pie, so there is more for everyone. Creativity is a key. The material world is the slave of the thinker and inventor. Material resources are resources only because someone finds a way to use them. Oil seeping out of the ground was a valueless pollutant until someone found a use for it. He is about 70 years old and going strong.

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