Creative Capital

Opening the Medical Mind

“Health care’s political economy exists only for the disease. To the system, the person with the disease remains in obscurity.” —Justin Mutter, Center for Biomedical Ethics, UVA Every profession has its sacred cows. These are ideas, policies, practices, procedures and so on that have been anointed as the Gold Standard and thereafter can’t be questioned. Most of …

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The Attractiveness of the Peaceful Hopi Culture

What Robert Redford did—how does he think this stuff up?—was invite the CEOs of Peabody and the four utility companies, along with the two tribal chairmen (Peter McDonald from the Navajo and Abbott Sekaquaptewa from the Hopi) to come to Sundance for a “pow-wow.” And I mean an actual pow-wow. The big-shot CEOs and the …

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Earth Mother vs. Money

Abbott Sekaquaptewa and I were sitting precariously on the edge of a mesa, the dark desert spread out below us, the night sky overcast and black. Abbott told me that way back when the Hopi were protected by the Apache, the Hopi tribe was united—everyone hated the Apache and would have nothing to do with …

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Traps Awaiting Unsuspecting RI Investors

Last week, we noted the tendency of the financial industry to take advantage of investors, including responsible investing (RI) investors. We also observed how this led to the epidemic of greenwashing: recharacterizing rather ordinary investments as RI investments. This week we’ll move beyond the greenwashing problem and look at other pitfalls for RI investors. Think …

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Responsible Investing Without the Hype

“ESG offers the chance of a fantastic rebranding for an unpopular [financial] industry, an excuse to crunch a lot of data and then charge for it, a great opportunity to bid for the huge pools of money held on behalf of public sector workers and charitable organizations … and most of all an opportunity for active …

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Reeling in the Big One

AONE made a grandiloquent gesture with his arm, saying, “These are all my paintings.” They were hung around the four walls of the giant loft and it looked to me like there might be a thousand of them. We circumnavigated the loft clockwise, pausing in front of each painting so AONE could explain the inspiration …

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A Tale of Two Lofts

The Exotic Eastern European Film Director (EEEFD) and I climbed out of our cab and rang the bell at the studio of the Internationally Famous Artist (IFA). The IFA gave us a tour of his studio, which was eye-opening. Even in those days, Soho was a heart-stoppingly expensive neighborhood, but the IFA owned a huge, …

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AONE and Me

“Could it be our boy’s done something rash?” —Bertholt Brecht, “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer,” or “Mack the Knife,” translated and sanitized by Marc Blitzstein, with thanks to Bobby Darin If you want to cause a lot of trouble for yourself, you could do worse than to sit down and write a screenplay. I know precisely nothing …

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A New Taiwan Policy

The final leg in our Cold War II stool is the containment of China diplomatically. To make the point that China no longer has a free pass, the first step in the West’s diplomatic offensive needs to be focused on Taiwan. Assuming that the West’s military containment of China has succeeded in confining the country inside …

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The Perils Facing China

As global trade retreats and is replaced by regional trading blocs, power will flow to those countries that are most self-reliant. By self-reliant, I mean countries that are best able to a) maintain vigorous economic growth without relying excessively on exports; b) feed their populations without importing vast amounts of food; and c) be more or …

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China is Destined to Fall Behind

Whatever happens with my proposal that the West launch Cold War II, the next three decades will be far less friendly to the Chinese economy than the past three decades have been. There are three reasons for this. First, there is what we might call “the law of large economies.” It’s relatively easy for a …

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Containing China Economically

Assuming that we can summon the courage to contain Beijing militarily, the next leg of the containment stool is to restrain China economically. Military containment will prevent China from overrunning other lands and peoples, but only economic containment can bring the Chinese Communist Party to its knees (or its senses). In Cold War I, it was …

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The Argument for Containing China

“In the Indo-Pacific region, China wants complete dominance; it wants to force the United States out and become the region’s unchallenged political, economic, and military hegemon. And globally … it wants to be powerful enough to counter Washington when needed.” –Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign Affairs We are talking about how a cold war between China and …

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Why China Is Ready to Fall Apart

In the 1980s, almost four decades into Cold War I, President Reagan dramatically ratcheted up the pressure on the Soviet Union by expanding and modernizing the U.S. military and launching his famous “Star Wars” (Strategic Defense) Initiative. The policy apparatus in the West went berserk. Reagan was, they claimed, wildly escalating the Cold War. The …

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Outlasting the Russians

Within a period of four months in 1945, both Germany (in May) and Japan (in September) surrendered. At that time the Allies controlled most of the world, including Western Europe, while the Soviets controlled Eastern Europe. The USSR had been our “ally” during the war only in the narrowest sense of the word. Stalin had …

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Cold War II

Roughly five years ago, my book, “The Stewardship of Wealth,” was published in the U.S. Almost immediately, it was translated into Chinese and was being readied for publication by Tsinghua University Press in Beijing. But then one day—actually, it was nearly midnight—I received a frantic call. It seemed that there was a teensy-weensy problem: the Chinese …

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The Value of Living Separately

We’ve talked a lot about De Rarum Natura, but we haven’t actually experienced the poem in these pages. There’s a reason for that—poor Lucretius has been unlucky in his translators. The vast majority of the DRN translations have been made by Latin scholars. These renderings are technically accurate and have the merit of passing along …

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On Lucretius, Part II: Why His Poem Was so Great

“The greatest poem by the greatest poet.” —Dryden on De Rerum Natura and Lucretius ”Carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucreti / exitio terras cum dabit una dies.” —Ovid [“The verses of the sublime Lucretius/will perish only when a day will bring the end of the world.”] What exactly was it that made De Rerum Natura, or DRN, so remarkable? …

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On Lucretius: The Man Who Changed the World

One happy day in the year 1417, with the mind of Europe still firmly in the grip of the Dark Ages, a fellow named Poggio Bracciolini was mucking around in the Benedictine library at Fulda in present-day Germany. He reached out his hand and pulled off the musty shelves a volume which, to his astonishment, …

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We Are Forever Grateful for Your Sacrifices, Part II

Amazingly, I passed all my first year law school exams (okay, by the skin of my teeth), and that fall I was back in Cambridge ready to start my second year at Harvard Law. But they wouldn’t let me register for classes because I couldn’t pay the (staggering) tuition. When I’d started my first year …

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We Are Forever Grateful for Your Sacrifices

“Thank you to all of our alumni veterans for your service. We are forever grateful for your sacrifices.” – Email received on Veterans Day by Your Humble Blogger from Harvard Law School When that email landed in my inbox I was at first both surprised and pleased. After all, Harvard University has been, for half …

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Spitting Into the Wind, Part III

I’m perfectly well aware that Noel Coward once remarked that reading a footnote is like having to stop making love so you can go downstairs to answer the door. But what did he know? I love footnotes. In his (much over-praised) book, “Infinite Jest,” David Foster Wallace included almost 100 pages of footnotes, which was terrific. Unfortunately, he …

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