Creative Capital

The Inscrutable Foibles of Hillbilly Talk

Although the parallels between my life and that of J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” seem flat-​out astonishing, it’s actually the differences that are more interesting.

Why Were Pittsburgh’s Scots-​Irish So Successful?

by Greg Curtis
If Malcolm Gladwell is right that the cultural legacy of the Scots-​Irish explains the poor outcomes experienced by people in southeastern Kentucky, how do we explain the exceptional success of these same people in Pittsburgh?

The Culture of the Scots-​Irish

by Greg Curtis
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” –Peter Drucker (supposedly)

Leaving Kentucky for Two Very Different Reasons

by Greg Curtis
You can take the boy out of Kentucky, but you can’t take Kentucky out of the boy. – Mamaw Vance

The Weird Parallels Between the Hillbilly Elegy Author and Me

I just completed a series of posts on Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-​First Century,” a book that experienced an astonishing publications history — despite being 700 pages long and a hard slog — because it caught the exact tenor of the times. A very different and more accessible book that enjoyed similar popularity,…

How Private Capital Made America the Greatest Society

Last week we discussed Fundamental Law of Private Capital #1 — that private capital is the secret weapon that allows some economies to out-​compete others. This week we’ll turn to Fundamental Laws #2 and #3.

Three Fundamental Laws of Private Capital

A few years after “Capital in the Twenty-​First Century” exploded on the scene, the University of Chicago surveyed 36 well-​known economists, asking if they agreed with Piketty. The results? One yes and 35 no’s.

The Rich Will Lose Their Money Soon Enough

We are talking about Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-​First Century,” including its extraordinary publishing history and its subsequent fade from grace. I reviewed the various problems with Pikkety’s theses as they have been noted in the economics literature, and I also proposed my own view of the book’s central…

On r > g, Part II

Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-​First Century” exploded on the scene in mid-​2013, but it’s impact faded quickly. I reviewed last week the widely discussed reasons why Piketty’s book fell from grace, but I also proposed a reason of my own: that Piketty is a naïf.

The Trouble with “Capital”

In the summer of 2013 a remarkable event occurred in the publishing industry. A challenging, 685-​page economic text written by an obscure French economist and published by an academic press became an overnight best seller.

Examples of What to Say

Even small children love to hear simple stories about their ancestors, and as children grow into teenagers and then young adults the stories can become more complex and serious. For example, consider Great-​Grandpa Henry Knox’s many shortcomings as a rancher. Or the general klutziness of the Knox men, who are…

Tell the Right Stories to your Children

In the last few posts I’ve spent a lot of time talking about kids who grow up in wealthy families and the issues they face, as well as talking about how virtually all American kids are raised these days. I’ve devoted so much time to these subjects because I want…

Trust Fund Baby Syndrome: An Interesting Case

In the fall of 1997 I found myself in the spacious, many-​windowed living room of a large home in a southern state I’ll call Florida, although that’s not where it was. I have also slightly modified some of the details of the family to protect their privacy.

A Pampered Generation

The typical trust fund baby is well-​known to all of us: a life devoted to spending down the family’s capital on themselves, not working, having difficulty maintaining relationships, living empty lives. The fear that people will be ruined by money is so pervasive that, following the French Revolution, trusts were…

Poor Parenting Saps the Wealthy

We are talking in a roundabout way that has taken us back to first principles about the human maturation process and how it interacts with the fear of affluent parents that money will ruin their children. There are several characteristic ways that affluent families go wrong, launching the shirtsleeves-​to-​shirtsleeves phenomenon…
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