“President Obama is too Intelligent for Republicans to Understand”: Revisiting Bad Assumption 1

I have a friend who is a delightful person and highly intelligent.  That being said, she constantly bombards Facebook with far left wing links.  I often look at these.  As I have said before, if you can’t argue the other side of an issue, you don’t know enough to argue your own opinion.  Frequently I see the bad assumptions I talk so much about permeating these articles.  The other day I saw one such article that stood out by the audacity of its title:

The Simple Truth: President Obama is Too Intelligent for Republicans to Understand.

I highly suggest you click on this link for a moment and read this article.  I also suggest you revisit my previous blog post:

Top Ten Bad Assumptions: 1 – If we disagree, you are either mean or stupid.

I would now like to analyze this article.  The author, Allen Clifton, provides three examples which “prove” how much smarter Obama is than the Republicans.  I would like to take a close look at each of these examples.  I would then like to talk a little about how intelligent Obama really is.


Obamacare is Clifton’s first example of the “big picture thinking” that Republicans are too stupid to grasp because “Republicans seem unable to understand anything beyond the spoon-fed bumper sticker talking points they’re given by the GOP and the conservative media.”  Clifton states that in the long term medical rates will go down because increased preventative care will cause a reduction in more expensive treatment down the road.  Let’s assume that Clifton’s premise is true that increasing preventative care is a force that will drive down healthcare costs.  The “big picture” piece that Clifton is missing is that there are many, many forces at work in the market.  Some of the forces push costs down and some push costs up.  For example, Obamacare reimburses doctors at a significantly reduced rates compared to private insurance.  As a result, many doctors are refusing to accept patients with Obamacare.  At the same time, Obamacare enrollment is increasing.  With supply going down and demand going up, this inevitably is a force to either push costs up, or if costs may not go up because of regulations, it will cause a shortage in medical care.  Here is an article from USA Today titled “Some doctors wary of taking insurance exchange patients” explaining the situation.

I am not expert enough to say whether the forces pushing costs up or those pushing costs down will prevail.  This certainly is a subject for reasonable debate.  Clifton, however, looks at one small piece of the overall “big picture” and makes a definitive statement while ignoring the rest of the picture.  At the same time he derides Republicans for being too stupid to look at the big picture.  Ironic, isn’t it?

The Minimum Wage

Clifton’s second example of Republican stupidity is the minimum wage.  He notes that Republicans call it a job killer and refute this with this powerful argument:   “It’s not.”  I’d like to refer here to Dr. Thomas Sowell about the minimum wage:

Minimum Wage Madness:  Part 1

Minimum Wage Madness: Part 2

Minimum Wage Exploitation (if you prefer audio)

Dr. Sowell is basically stating that a minimum wage job is the bottom rung on a career ladder.  A person with no skills works for a low wage.  In the process, the person gains skills that allow him or her to earn a higher wage.  A company will only hire a worker, at minimum wage or any other wage, if the company expects that the value received from the person exceeds what it costs to employ that person.  As the cost rises, fewer people will be hired.  This is basic economics.  When we raise the minimum wage, we are cutting off the bottom rung of the ladder.  As a result, some people will never, ever climb that ladder.

This does not mean we should not raise the minimum wage.  In any policy, there are winners and losers.  There are trade-offs.  If we raise the minimum wage, the clear winners are people who now have a job at the new higher wage.  It is very easy to see that they are better off, and they know it.  There are losers too, but they aren’t so clear and the losers may never know they are losers.  The primary losers are people who never get hired who would have gotten hired if the minimum wage had not risen.  If the employers have to raise prices to pay for the higher wages, the consumers who pay the higher prices are also losers.  The companies who have to pay hire wages without getting more for their wages are also losers, although I am sure that this would be unimportant to Clifton.

Clifton also claims that the workers will make more money, spend the money, and this will help the economy making everybody a winner.  This would be true if the higher salary was due to increased productivity, to the worker earning more because the worker is worth more.   When productivity increases, the pie gets bigger. If, however, this is just an arbitrary raise without any productivity increases, the pie isn’t getting better.  It is just being cut differently.  This means that every extra dollar that the higher minimum wage worker spends, somebody else is spending a dollar less.  There is no spending boost in the economy.

The key point here isn’t to say that the minimum wage shouldn’t be raised.  The key point is to say that it is complicated, that there are trade-offs that should be weighed.   Clifton is denying the complexities of the issue and proposing a simple answer.  Remember that Clifton’s whole point was to say how stupid the Republicans were and how Republicans didn’t understand the issue.


Clifton states, “When it comes to ISIS,Republicans just want to send in troops and ‘crush the terrorists’.”   Note that Clifton put “crush the terrorists” in quotes.  I am not sure who he is quoting.  I have not heard a single reputable Republican advocating sending American ground troops to fight ISIS.  Clifton is raising a straw man argument.  He is saying his opponents are for a position and then ridiculing the position, when his opponents don’t have that position.  Clifton states:

When it comes right down to it, I really do believe a huge part about why so many of the non-racist Republicans are against President Obama is because many of them are simply unable to grasp his “big picture” thinking that drives a lot of his policies. That requires intelligence and far too many conservative would rather just be told what to think by Fox News. They want their policies to be so simplified and catchy that they fit on bumper stickers.

He is clearly stating that Obama has a “big picture” policy, that Obama’s understanding is so much better than the Republicans’.   Is he referring to the same Obama who over a year ago scoffed at ISIS as a threat calling it the “JV team.”  Here is a link to a Politifact article which shows Obama’s statement and stating that his later denial of referring specifically to ISIS is false.  Obama also removed all troops from Iraq, overriding his top advisors who wanted him to leave behind a residual force.   This Time article “Leon Panetta: How the White House Misplayed Iraqi Troop Talks” references former Obama CIA leader and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on this subject.  On the way to taking over major Iraqi cities, such as Mosul, ISIS had to cross a wide open desert which would have made them sitting ducks to an air attack if we had kept a residual force.

Why therefore should anyone believe that Obama has this “big picture” view of ISIS  that the Republicans are just too dumb to understand?

Obama:  The Super Genius

In addition to saying that all Republicans are idiots, Clifton is stating that Obama is such a genius that his detractors, idiots such as Dr. Thomas Sowell, can’t keep up with his intellect.  I ask where is the evidence that Obama is such a genius?  I am not saying Obama is stupid.  After all, he graduated from Harvard Law School.  What about Obama though should make us think he is that much more intelligent than his opponents?  Obama still has not authorized the release of his grades in college.  Does anybody really think that if his grades were exemplary, he wouldn’t release them?

I will tell you what shocked me more than anything else when it comes to realizing Obama’s understanding of policy.  In 2011, in an interview with NBC’s Ann Curry, Obama blamed unemployment on advances in technology:

There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.

By Obama’s logic, we never should have invented the plow.  For example, lets say we have an agrarian society where it takes everyone’s efforts to grow enough food to feed the society.  Then somebody invents the plow.  Now only half of the people are needed to do the farming.  We can say that the plow made half of the society unemployed.  Now, however, the labor that has been freed from farming can do other things.  People can be blacksmiths, shoemakers, merchants and artists.  Overall, the society is wealthier than it was before.

The concept here is that technology increases productivity.  Productivity is the total value of goods and services produced divided by the costs of providing these goods and services.  Productivity from labor can be thought of as the total value of goods and services produced per working hour.  A person’s productivity represents the most somebody is willing to pay that person.  When we increase productivity, we can pay the person more.  New technology may cause some people to lose jobs in the short-term.  The proverbial buggy whip employees were put out of work by the invention of the automobile, but overall society was better off.

This is something that they teach in Economics 101.  It is simple, basic economics.  When Obama blamed unemployment on ATM machines and other technology, he showed he did not understand the basic facts about economics.  This is the man who is in charge of the economic policy of the United States.  This is the super genius whose knowledge leaves everybody else in the dust.

I don’t think so.

Bad Assumption 1 Revisited – If we disagree you are either mean or stupid.

I don’t know Allen Clifton. I think he is probably a fairly intelligent person.  Like my friend who posted this article on Facebook, he is also probably a nice person.  I think he is also totally blinded by bad assumption 1.  By demeaning his opponents, by saying they are all stupid, this means he doesn’t need to seriously look at their arguments.  This also means, he doesn’t need to examine his own arguments, his own views.  As I have said previously, just about every issue has two sides.  If you can’t argue the other side assuming that your opponent is a well-meaning, intelligent person, that means you don’t really understand the issue.  I think we are all much better off if we can jettison this bad assumption.

Basic Economics Part 7 – Why do so many people prefer socialism?

This is the final part in a series on basic economics inspired by the works of Thomas Sowell.

The prior segment in this series clearly shows that a capitalistic, free economy greatly outproduces a centralized, less free economy.  Why then do so many prefer socialism?

Many people actually believe that socialism produces better economic results than capitalism.  I believe I have shown that this is totally mistaken and that the evidence overwhelmingly shows that capitalism outproduces socialism.  I would welcome anybody who can refute my previous arguments here to respond.

Even those who agree that more capitalism leads to greater overall wealth still favor government control of economies to a varying degree, from heavy government regulation to socialism to communism.  These are reasons they give:

  • Capitalism can be corrupt.  People point to “crony capitalism” where government supports favored companies, frequently those who give the biggest campaign contributions.
  • Unfettered capitalism and out of control greed lead to major crises such as the great depression and the financial collapse of 2008.
  • Without regulation, capitalists will exploit the environment, their workers, and their customers to increase profits.
  • Capitalism is inherently immoral.  Everybody should work for the greater good instead of for themselves.
  • Profits represent waste.  Goods and services could be provided more cheaply if there weren’t profits.
  • Wealth isn’t everything.  People are happier under socialism.

I believe that some of these statement contain some truth while others I vehemently disagree with.  I will return to discuss each of these topics in future segments.

Except, I would like to discuss the last issue right now.  I think it is the most important argument, because I think it is the only argument where they are right.  Many people are happier under socialism.

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, Chile is ranked one of the most free countries in the world, and is the most free in Latin America with a per capita income of $18,419 .  Honduras in contrast is one of the least free with a per capita income of $4,610.  The bottom 20% in Chile has an average income roughly twice the average income in Honduras.  Despite this, in happiness surveys, Honduras rates as a much happier country than Chile.

If you are poor and everyone else around you is poor, you  tend to be happier than someone who is much better off but who is surrounded by even wealthier neighbors.

In remarks before the World Affairs Coucil of Greater Dallas in 2003 Alan Greenspan talked about “the creative destruction” of capitalism where the standard of living rises as new technologies and methods replace old.   This leads to both progress and stress.  He stated, “I do not doubt that the vast majority of us would prefer to work in a less stressful, less competitive environment”.

Basically, under capitalism there are winners and losers.  This is an essential element of capitalism.  Socialism tries to have no losers.  It is much more stressful to have to compete first to survive and then to better yourself.  There is an attraction to having everything handed to you, even if you don’t get as much.

Picture a classroom with no grades.  Nobody passes or fails.  If you show up, you get promoted.  There are no tests.  In this environment there are some who would likely be at the top of the class who would hate this.  The majority would probably prefer this stress-free environment.  Overall happiness would be higher than in a classroom where students compete for grades.  Does anybody think though that the students would learn more in a class without grades?

Economics is a field where we make choices.  Do we prefer an economy that grows and progresses but produces stress?  Do we prefer an economy that keeps most people mired in poverty but produces less stress?

If you found these segments interesting, I recommend that you read “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell.   You will find some of what I said embodied in his work while some are my own extensions based upon the Sowell’s concepts.






Basic Economics Part 5 – The Problems with Voluntary Transactions

This is the fifth part in a series on Basic Economics, inspired by the work of Thomas Sowell.

As a note, my frequent use of he/she I decided is quite clumsy.  From now on I will arbitrarily alternate between he or she.  Unless gender is the subject of discussion, the actual gender I use has no consequence.

In my last segment, I argued that when a person becomes richer through entirely voluntary transactions, she makes others richer as well.  The premise for this is that she does not enter into a voluntary transaction unless she believes the transaction will make her better off.  She does not buy a cup of coffee unless she believes she is better off with the coffee than with the money required to buy the coffee.

The giant hole in this argument is the assumption that if a person believes a transaction will make her better off, it doesn’t mean it will actually make her better off.  There are many reasons that her perception of the value may greatly differ from the actual value of the transaction.

  • She may not have sufficient information.  She may not know that the coffee will taste horrible or that the coffee shop is not sanitary.
  • She may be defrauded.  The coffee shop might advertise that they use an expensive premium coffee but actually are using a cheap substitute.
  • She might have pre-purchased a card good for ten coffees but the coffee shop decides to discontinue the pre-purchase program and refuses to honor her card.
  • She might make a poor decision such as choosing short-term impulse gratification over long term goals.  Anybody who has ever tried to lose weight and eaten a whole bag of potato chips can understand that.
  • She might be mentally incompetent to determine what makes her better off.

With all of these potential problems in voluntary transactions, can we truly say that a capitalist system that relies on the premise that people make decisions that better themselves is a good idea?  Would it better to have a centrally planned economy where enlightened experts make decisions for the betterment of everybody?

That will be the focus of the next segment.

Basic Economics – Part 4 – Creating Wealth

This is the fourth post in a series inspired by Thomas Sowell

I would postulate that most people look at the wealth of the world as a giant pie of which everybody has a slice, large or small. If one person has a larger slice, , that means he or she is taking pie from others, forcing others to have less pie. When one person gets richer that means somebody else must get poorer. This assumption is the underlying argument in the whole income inequality debate.

This assumption is also totally false. Wealth is not a fixed size pie. For example, lets say a sculptor takes a plain rock worth nothing and carves it into a beautiful statue and sells it for $1000. The sculptor now is wealthier, but has she made anybody else poorer? Obviously, she hasn’t. She has increased the wealth of the world by the value of the statue over the rock. She has created wealth.

Wealth is the total value of all of the goods and services. Money is not wealth. Money is the total claim against wealth. If you own one one trillionth of the money in the world, you can claim one trillionth of the wealth. Let’s say tomorrow the United States government implemented a new policy where for every dollar a person owned, he or she would receive an additional dollar. If you owned $10,000 before, you now own $20,000. This would not double wealth. It would not create any new wealth. This creates no new goods or services. It just doubles the claim against existing wealth so each dollar would now be worth half of what it was before. If something cost $10 before, it would cost $20 after.

I once had an economics professor burn a dollar bill in front of the class. He stated that in doing so he did not destroy any wealth. By removing his claim of $1 worth of wealth, he made everybody else an infinitesimally tiny amount richer.

If a person becomes richer without creating any value in exchange, this means he or she is taking a larger slice of the same sized pie and is in fact making somebody else poorer. On the other hand, if the person becomes richer by creating additional value, he or she is making the pie bigger. Not only is this person not making anybody else poorer, but if this person takes less pie than he or she creates, the person is making other people richer as well. So how can we say if value is created? We can say value is created when someone voluntarily pays for it. If our sculptor creates an ugly statue that nobody will pay for, she has created no economic value. If she creates a masterpiece that she sells for one million dollars, she has created a lot of economic value.

In our previous example, we know the coffee shop has created value, created wealth when someone is voluntarily willing to pay for the coffee. When someone works for an hour and someone voluntarily pays for the work, there is value. If on the other hand someone works for an hour and the government says the boss has to pay the person, then we really have no idea if the person created value. The person could have done just what the boss wanted or the person could have done absolutely nothing. When a transaction stops being voluntary on both sides, we no longer have any way to measure value, to determine if wealth is created.

People only participate in a voluntary transaction if they perceive the value of what they receive is greater than the value of what they pay. If the boss has to pay you $10/hour and the boss perceives that in doing so he can’t generate at least $10 an hour in additional income, then the boss isn’t going to hire you. There is no reason for the boss to hire you. If, however, the boss thinks he can make an additional $20 by hiring you, then the boss hires you. You make $10 and the boss makes $10 and both of you are better off.

Steve Jobs made billions of dollars through his innovations with Apple. In making his billions, did he make the rest of the world richer or poorer? The answer here is obvious.

At the beginning I stated that most people have the false assumption that when somebody makes more money, he makes other people poorer. I am showing here that the reverse is true.

If someone makes more money, he makes other people richer!

Now I know this is not always true. There are holes in this argument. I will address these holes in the next segment.

Basic Economics, Part 2 – Maximizing Total Wealth

This is a second in a series of posts based on the concepts from the book “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell.

In my last post I explained how there are many different ways of allocating resources.  As an example I talked about many different ways of allocating beachfront real estate.  The next question is how we can evaluate whether one allocation method is superior to other allocation methods.  Fundamentally, there are two different ways we can evaluate allocation methods.

  • Practically;  Which method maximizes total wealth?
  • Morally:  Which method is the fairest?

Today I will only start to address the practical question.  I will address the moral question later.

What do I mean by maximizing total wealth?  Isn’t total wealth fixed and the only question is how we allocate it?  After all, we can’t create any more beachfront real estate no matter how we allocate it.

Let’s say you visit a coffee shop and buy a coffee.  As you take your coffee, you thank the clerk and the clerk thanks you.  Why do you both thank each other?  Each of you believe you are better off with this transaction.  At the time you want the coffee more than you want the money.  The coffee shop wants the money more than it wants the coffee.  Both sides of this transaction think they are better off due to this transaction.

Total wealth produced is the sum of all goods and services.  Whenever there is a transaction the extra value that each party perceives from the transaction increases the wealth.  When you buy your coffee, the total wealth increases because each side is better off for the transaction.

The best way to assure that both sides are better off from a transaction is for the transaction to be voluntary.  When you buy your coffee, nobody is forcing you to buy it and nobody is forcing the coffee shop to sell you the coffee.  Whenever there is a voluntary transaction then, at the moment at least, each party feels they are better off, that their wealth is increased.  Of course, this momentary perception can be wrong and in the long run, one or the other party is not better off.  I will address this later in this series.  For the moment, assume that the momentary perception is correct and each party actually is better off.

Of all of the allocation systems discussed in my last post, the only system that is totally voluntary is the free market priced based system.  If buyer and seller can agree on a price, there is a transaction where both parties believe they are better off.  When we have this voluntary transaction, wealth is increased.

In a central planning economy, a government official could either decide who buys or sells the coffee or the government official might set the price.

In the next post I will continue this discussion by contrasting the  central planning approach to the free market approach.


Basic Economics – Part 1 – Different Economic Systems

This  will be the first in a series of posts about basic  economics.  By no coincidence, “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell is the inspiration for much of these postings, though I will be doing quite a bit of paraphrasing.

The British economist Lionel Robbins gave the classic definition of economics:

Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses.

For any desirable resource, there will frequently be more people who want the resource than there is resource available.  For example, let’s consider beachfront property.  Beachfront property is a scarce resource.   There are far more people who would like to own beachfront property than there is property available.  Some people will get this property and others won’t.  There are many different ways this property could be allocated.  For example:

  • In a pure capitalist economy, whoever pays the most, gets it.
  • In a command economy, a government official would decide who gets it.
  • In an anarchistic economy, whoever is strong enough to seize it and hold it gets it.
  • It could be allocated randomly through a lottery.
  • It could be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.
  • It could be allocated based on some type of contest.

Beachfront property also has alternative uses:

  • It can be used as a public beach.
  • It can be used as a private estate.
  • It can be used as an inexpensive hotel.
  • It can be used as a luxury hotel.
  • It can be used as a timeshare.
  • It can be used as a marina for small boats.
  • It an be used as an industrial port.
  • It can be used as a port for large passenger ships.
  • It can not be used at all and kept as a nature reserve.

I’m sure that more time brainstorming could determine other allocation mechanisms and other uses.

The key point here is that no matter how we allocate beachfront property, there will be some people who get it and others who don’t.  That is true whether we have a capitalist economy, a communist economy, or any other economy.  We can’t expect any economic system to make everybody happy.  How then should we determine which is the best economic system?

Stay tuned.

Books That Have Changed Me

I love to read.  There are many, many books I have loved.  There are only a handful that have changed who I am as a person, the way I live my life or the way I think.  I’d like to share these books in the order I read them:

  • “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie – This is the best self help book ever written.  Dale Carnegie himself said that his book was not filled with original ideas.  It is filled with the every day common sense methods for dealing with people that are very uncommon in actual use.  It is not a book in manipulation.  It is a book that helps you appreciate people and bring out the best in them.  It also contains wonderful stories and is a delight to read.
  • “Let’s Get Results, Not Excuses:  A no-nonsense Approach to Increasing Productivity, Performance and Profit” by James M. Bleech and Dr. David G. Mutchler – This is a book that some people get immediately and some people will just laugh at.  It starts with the premise that you have success or excuses but you don’t have both.  If you are successful, you don’t need excuses.  One path to success is to figure out in advance that if you fail, what excuses might you have for your failure.  Then you proactively work to prevent the need for excuses.  A key aspect of this is that you stop making excuses.  When you are not successful, you take responsibility.  For example, I don’t say “I was late because of traffic.”  Instead, I say “I was late because I did not allow enough time to account for traffic problems.”
  • “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand –  I have for a long time believed that capitalism was the most effective economic system, but I felt that socialism was morally superior.  Rand convincingly (to me) argues that capitalism is not only the most effective system, it is also morally superior.  She uses her fiction, most notably “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” to argue her philosophy which she calls Objectivism.  She also wrote many non-fiction philosophical books.   Atlas Shrugged is a long, long book and can be intimidating.  If you are new to Ayn Rand, I would actually start with her short novella “Anthem” which can be read in just a few bathroom sittings.  If you like “Anthem”, you can proceed to “Atlas Shrugged”.
  • “Basic Economics” by Dr. Thomas Sowell – Dr. Sowell does an amazing job in defining economics for the layman.  Most political issues have an economic component.  Dr. Sowell teaches you how to analyze issues so you can understand and anticipate the actual effects of different policies, which are very often the exact opposite of what their proponents intended.

The last three books are from the world of investing and stock trading.  I took no interest in managing my own investments for the first 45 or so years of my life.  I therefore was oblivious to many amazing opportunities.  Now learning how to invest/trade has become a major focus in my life.  These are the best three books I have found on investing.

  • “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin Lefevre – This book is the autobiography of Jesse Livermore, generally considered to be the greatest trader of all time.  This is the book that first got me truly interested in the stock market. First, it is a wonderful read with amazing stories.  Second, it is a guidebook on how a great trader thinks.  Every time I re-read this book, I learn lessons that strike home that I was not able to appreciate in prior readings.
  • “How to Make Money in Stocks” by William O’Neil – O’Neill is one of the greatest traders of the modern era.  This book is basically the bible for growth investing.   Most new investors crash and burn early then give up on investing. The most important thing this  book will do for you is that if you follow its key principles, it will prevent you from wiping out.  It will keep you in the game, limiting losses as you make your initial mistakes until you have enough experience to be a profitable investor.
  • “Trade like a Stock Market Wizard” by Mark Minervini – Minervini is an O’Neil disciple and a former United States investing champion.  He spent his first eight years or so being unsuccessful.  Once he refined his techniques, he put together an amazing number of large win years without ever experiencing a large losing year.  My investing improved substantially once I began following Minervini’s principles.  

Authors Who Have Greatly Influenced Me

As I am still at the stage of this blog where absolutely nobody is reading it, I am laying a foundation before I actually say anything interesting (assuming I ever say anything interesting).

There are three authors who have profoundly influenced my thinking.  In future blogs I may not adequately give them credit.  Sometimes I am not sure where their thoughts stop and my thoughts begin.

The first author is Dale Carnegie.  Dale Carnegie wrote the most insightful book ever on human relations, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  There is not a  day where my interactions with others are not affected by what I read in this book, although sometimes I will confess they are not affected enough.  Right after college when I moved to St. Louis I was pleased to drive by a Dale Carnegie Institute.  I took the base course and then I was a graduate assistant for another instance.  I had been incredibly shy.  This course brought me out of my shell and gave me the confidence to talk to people.  I will forever be grateful to Dale Carnegie.

The second author is Thomas Sowell.  Dr. Sowell is an economist and a columnist.  His book “Basic Economics” is a masterpiece in defining economics in plain text without supply and demand charts, etc., so the lay person can understand the key principles.  He then looks at different issues using these basic principles of economics to show the hidden as well as the obvious consequences of different policies.  He then uses these principles as the basis for analyzing issues in his other books.  In short, he trains you on how to think about issues.

The third author is Ayn Rand.  Rand, in both in her non-fiction books on philosophy and her fiction such as “Atlas Shrugged”, starts from the very beginning and logically builds the philosophy she calls Objectivism.  I can’t count the number of times I have heard her name trashed by people saying how horrible she is, but I have yet to ever see anybody rebut her logic.  I would actually welcome an attack on her logic, and I have searched for one, but have yet to find it.  I have always been pro-capitalist but I thought that while socialism just didn’t work in real life, it was morally superior.  Rand taught me that capitalism is morally superior as well as pragmatically superior.

Additionally, I’d like to give an honorable mention to Malcolm Gladwell.  At the suggestion of my cousin Bob Kaiser, I have just started reading his books.  Gladwell gets you to think about issues as you have never thought of them before.