Tuesday, August 16

Video: Our Political and Economic Problems Are Fundamentally a Crisis in Virtue

Marcus Aurelius
George Friedman of STRATFOR gets to the heart of the current political and economic malaise in a brief and succinct video interview here.

He's spot on about the point that all the new regulation in the form of Dodd-Frank, Basel III, etc. do zero good without enforcement.

And why aren't both existing and new regulations being enforced? In Dr. Friedman's view, it comes down to a lack of virtue among our current elite.

The good news is that this is not an insolvable problem for two reasons: First, virtue, in my opinion, is unlike height, raw intelligence, or good looks, in the sense that it is not something that one is by-and-large born with. Virtue is both learned and cultivated over time.

But how much attention do we currently place on the development of virtue? The classics in the western world on this topic include the works by Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith, Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, among others. To perhaps unfairly single out two disciplines, what room is made for those works in our current economics and business curriculum? From my personal observations, zip.

The idea of a renaissance education has been steadily pushed aside through the years in favor of the poly-technical practicalness of the 1-minute manager MBA and quant-PhDs. Today's economic and political conundrum is arguably a by-product of this de-prioritization of the study and development of virtue.

The second reason I am optimistic we can solve this problem is that when our leaders first fail society in such an epic fashion, and then next fail a second time by not fixing the root-cause of the problem, then those of us in representative democracies often make change.

Here's to hoping we get the change right this time.

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