Creative Capital

The Art of Peace, Part III: The Korean War

Let’s begin our exploration of the art of peace by applying the lessons of “The Art of War” to America’s many, and mostly disastrous, proxy wars since World War II. Maybe we can identify ideas that will help make future proxy wars—given that they seem to be unavoidable—less ruinous. Korea Following World War II and …

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An Idea Whose Time Has Come

One reason why people haven’t bothered to write “The Art of Peace,” at least in recent decades, might be because, well, who needs it? Why attack the problem of peace intellectually when we’ve already—very successfully—achieved peace by simply muddling through? By “peace” I don’t mean “the total absence of armed conflict”—good luck with that. I …

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The Art of Peace

More than 25 centuries ago, a fellow known as Sun Tzu (an honorific rather than a name—it means something like “Master Sun”) wrote a long treatise on military strategy and tactics that has come to be called “The Art of War.” “The Art of War” is only one of the Seven Military Classics assembled during the Sung …

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Taming Your Investment Committee

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” —Hippocrates, writing almost 2,500 years ago About a million years ago—in 2003, to be exact—I wrote a long white paper called “Reinvigorating the Investment Committee” (available nowhere). In that paper I discussed the origin of the family investment committee and described a long and discouraging list of problems with …

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Proust’s Longest Sentence

Gilbert de Botton died in the late summer of 2000, only 65 years old. At the end of his life, he was pursuing yet another of his passions. In addition to investing money for rich people and collecting modern art, Gilbert was, amazingly, attempting to recreate Montaigne’s private library, which had been broken up and …

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Trying to Launch the Warhol Museum

When Ms. X and I arrived at GAM in London, Gilbert didn’t meet with us in his private office, where he and I had always met in the past. Instead, apparently in honor of Ms. X’s presence, he ushered us into his conference room. “We just finished rebuilding the conference room,” Gilbert told us proudly. …

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The Mysterious Party

A few years after the events described in last week’s post, something happened that, at first, seemed to have nothing to do with Gilbert de Botton. I was sitting at my desk idly sorting through my mail when I came across an impossibly elegant invitation to a “garden party” being hosted by a very well-known …

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Gilbert

In my entire life I’ve attended one cocktail party in Paris, and on that occasion—this being some years ago—I met a fellow named Gilbert de Botton. (Gilbert, by the way, is pronounced “zhil-BEAR.”) Our first meeting didn’t start out well. The fellow who introduced me to Gilbert did so by saying, “Greg, please meet M. …

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The Fed is Poisoning the Economy

“The Fed can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” –What Keynes should have said. Last week I made two related points: The agonizingly slow economic growth and rapid increase in inequality the United States has experienced over the past decade aren’t the cause of constant Fed intervention; they are a direct consequence of …

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It’s Different This Time

“The four most dangerous words in investing are: It’s different this time.” —Sir John Templeton “The 12 most dangerous words in investing are, ‘The four most dangerous words in investing are: It’s different this time.’ ” —Michael Batnick Whatever, read my lips: It’s different this time. From the time the United States was organized as …

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The Merciful End of My Blogcast

Suppose you are determined to convert your written blog into an audio blog—what I think of as a “blogcast.” Suppose, on top of that, you are an incompetent reader of blogcasts. Finally, suppose you aren’t about to spring for a $500,000 text-to-speech synthesizer. What to do? I consulted a profession closely allied to that of …

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What’s a Blogcast?

As some of my loyal readers know, I launched this blog more than seven years ago—on January 1, 2013, to be precise. Since the blog comes out every Friday morning, you can do the math and figure out that there must be about 400 posts by now. And you would be right. This post is …

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America 2.0, Part 16: The Final Installment

For readers who missed early parts of this series of posts, I am summarizing a novel written almost forty years ago. We are listening in as a young woman journalist interviews a very old man about the changes in America occasioned by the switch from voting to selecting public officials by lot. Journalist: Good morning, …

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When Weirdos Get Elected

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. Let’s be flies on the wall as a young woman journalist interviews a very old man about the changes that occurred in the United States as a result of abandoning the ballot and …

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A New Way of Governing

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. Since only 2 percent of Americans had “Capability Quotients” above 130, that meant that 98 percent of citizens would never hold public office. And that meant, in turn, that Grace Atkinson’s selection-by-lot idea …

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Only the Top Two Percent

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. Two days after receiving Grace Atkinson’s posthumous note, George and Jenny Leader found themselves in the Roosevelt Room across from the Oval Office listening intently as Dr. Michael Solomon discussed the issue of …

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Despotism of the Wise

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C… President Johnson had been seized on a Sunday morning, and everyone else on the list had been detained by 8:15 a.m. on Monday. By Monday afternoon, rumors had …

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Debating IQ

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. As Dr. Michael Solomon knocked cautiously on the door of Grace’s apartment, he was well aware that Grace was furious with him. Sure enough, when Grace’s face showed in the door window, she …

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Drinking Scotch and Talking Democracy

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. One evening at the faculty club, with Grace Atkinson and Michael Solomon deep into The Macallan, the conversation turned to Grace’s evolving views of the American Constitution. As noted earlier, Grace believed that, …

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Solomon’s Story

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. While the leaders of the Georgetown Convention are consolidating their hold on the U.S. government, we need to introduce Dr. Michael Solomon, an eminent professor of psychology and long-time friend and colleague of …

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Seizing LBJ

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. Gen. Green was startled. “Hold it, folks” he said. “I’m a desk jockey now, I haven’t commanded troops in the field since my last tour in Vietnam, back in ’64.” “But, Willy,” George …

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The Russkies, Vietnam and a Possible Coup

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. In the novel, written so many years ago, many chapters were devoted to the back-channel negotiations that went on between the Johnson Administration (in the person of Walter Rostow) and the Soviet Union …

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