Gary Becker, Optimistic Economist
Becker, the Nobel-winning co-founder of the Chicago school of economics, was recently interviewed for an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. I read the piece last weekend and found it very enlightening. You might have the same experience.
The interview leads off, as required, with healthcare economics but goes on from there to address the American economic and political future. If you know Mr. Becker, you know he leans to the right (well not literally, just politically). But that's almost irrelevant. The guy is truly incisive. I'll share with you the following two quotes from the article, which serve as bookends for his views and that helped me understand what's going on:
Capitalism has produced the highest standard of living in history, and yet markets are hard to appreciate? Mr. Becker explains: "People tend to impute good motives to government. And if you assume that government officials are well meaning, then you also tend to assume that government officials always act on behalf of the greater good. People understand that entrepreneurs and investors by contrast just try to make money, not act on behalf of the greater good. And they have trouble seeing how this pursuit of profits can lift the general standard of living. The idea is too counterintuitive. So we're always up against a kind of in-built suspicion of markets. There's always a temptation to believe that markets succeed by looting the unfortunate."
"[The pessimists about our future] are very eloquent," Mr. Becker replies, his equanimity undisturbed. "And maybe they're right. But I'm not that pessimistic." The temptation to view markets with suspicion, he explains, is just that: a temptation. Although voters might succumb to the temptation temporarily, over time they know better.
Don't take my word for it. Read the article.