J. Miller and Company Blog

January 5, 2009

Is the term “Rational Man” an oxymoron?

Adam Gopnik, in the January 5th issue of  The New Yorker compares our current economic crisis with “the moment when a small child hits his forehead on a doorknob … and then the long seconds of red-faced anticipation, breath drawn, while everyone waits for the explosion of tears.

‘…we have all bumped our foreheads, hard, on the edge of reality.  But how bad will the bruise … really be?’

He continues by recalling a portion of “It’s a Wonderful Life” saying “when George and Uncle Billy prevent a run on the bank by urging people to withdraw not all the money they had invested in the Building & Loan but just what they need to tide them over, he is persuading them to act not as rational-economic man but as social-emotional man.”

And then the best line from Gopnik’s article – “What makes Bedford Falls thrive is people feeling good about its future.”

I wager this downturn will be really bad and the inevitable crying will go on for a long time.

But the answer for me is working more on the social-emotional side of the equation:  we have control over that, we can make the days and weeks better for others and ourselves.  By building on that side of the equation, we build hope for our future and the future of our industry, our country and our world!

Read the article:

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2009/01/05/090105taco_talk_gopnik

Economics and politics