Tag Archives: Bill Maher

The Crisis Is Over, And We Wasted It

Rahm Emanuel reportedly has a doctrine: Never let a serious crisis go to waste.  His point is a good one – vested interests usually block change across a wide range of important issues in the US, and a major financial/economic crisis provides an opportunity to bypass or breakthrough those interests in order to introduce meaningful and substantial change.  Emanuel listed (from the 1:40 minute mark) five priority areas for change: health care (cost control and expansion of coverage), energy (independence and alternatives), taxes (fairness and simplicity), education (fundamental changes to effectively train the workforce), and financial regulation (transparency and accountability).

The financial crisis is abating – although the economic costs continue to mount and new problems may still appear (ask California or Ukraine).  At least among the people I talk with on Capitol Hill, there is a very real sense that business is returning to usual; certainly, the lobbyists are out in force, they want what they always want, and it’s hard to see many of them as seriously weakened.  How much progress have we made on any of Emanuel’s priority areas or, for that matter, along any other public policy dimension that was previously stuck? Continue reading

What I Didn’t Get To Say On Bill Maher Last Night

We could have talked more (or even the whole show) about the ideas of Mohammad Yunus.  His book, Creating A World Without Poverty, argues we should look beyond standard for-profit business and consider expanding the emphasis on “social business.”  This – among other things – preserves investors’ capital but doesn’t aim to make it grow, while serving pressing social needs with a business-like delivery model. 

Versions of these ideas came up repeatedly in a course I just finished running at MIT, with Anjali Sastry and other colleagues, in which more than 50 students put their business skills to work helping health care projects in Africa become more effective.  Muhammad is definitely right that more and more business people want to get involved in this kind of social space, and many social entrepreneurs welcome input/advice/any kind of serious contribution.

Ordinarily, we might dismiss a zero real rate of return as uninteresting to anyone who has other uses for their money – but Muhammad is quite eloquent on how such an investment is complementary to seeing more in your life and in finding ways to really help others. Continue reading

Real Time With Bill Maher, Tomorrow

Tomorrow evening I’m on Bill Maher’s HBO show, as part of a three person panel with Muhammad Yunus and Jon Meacham.  Bill runs a wide-ranging discussion covering pretty much anything that’s been in the news over the past week or so.  With Muhammad and Jon there, I’m sure we’ll get into issues of ethics and values – including whether we have let “the profit motive” become too central in our society.

In terms of other topics related to economics, my guess is we’ll talk about: Continue reading