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Bob McTeer, former President and CEO of the Reserve Bank of Dallas compiled a list of economic wisdoms, reproduced here verbatim.

Bob McTeer’s Commonsense Economics

Several years ago the public affairs staff at the Dallas Fed undertook a project to create a little booklet with the title above containing what they regarded as nuggets of economic wisdom they found in combing through some of my speeches and writings.

That project was never finished. However, in digging up bones recently, I came across some of the quotes they had selected as a beginning. Here they are in case you are interested.

Job creation and job destruction are intertwined. They are both key elements in the process through which a society raises its living standards. This shouldn’t be all that surprising to most Americans. It’s so familiar, in fact, that the concept is captured in a single word- progress.

Most Americans look at jobs intuitively: anything that creates them is good; whatever destroys them is bad. From this vantage point, existing jobs are a national treasure to be hoarded, protected, and saved. Nothing could be more wrong. The person, not the job, is the treasure.

Instead of asking whether the economy will create enough good jobs, we ought to be asking whether the educational system will produce enough qualified workers. If its people are educated, trained and willing to work, a society with a properly functioning market economy will be able to provide an abundance of opportunities.

Free enterprise is about choices. The market system offers variety by allowing choices to be made at the individual rather than the group level. Who better to make decisions than the people most intimately involved- individuals who know their unique circumstances better than anyone else?

When the government can legally rob Peter to pay Paul, there is great potential for abuse. There will always be an abundance of worthy causes seeking government sponsorship. But the test should not only be whether the cause is worthy, but whether government is the appropriate entity to deal with it.

In an essentially free economy, there are limits to how large the size and scope of government can grow without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Americans believe they have a strong domestic economy because of the virtues of competition, but when it comes to international trade, people forget the virtues of competition and think we’d be better off if we didn’t compete. We shouldn’t be afraid of competition; it’s what makes our economy strong.

When the government embraces protectionism, the government is effectively telling American consumers that they shouldn’t have quality at the lowest price- that they should pay higher prices to protect jobs in industries where, without government protection, jobs wouldn’t have been in the first place.

While some may argue that saving jobs is worth the cost, using trade barriers to save them is like fishing with dynamite. You lose a lot more than you gain.

The Federal Reserve enables people to go to sleep knowing that when they wake up in the morning, the value of their money will be the same as when they went to bed. For all practical purposes, when Americans wake up each day, a dollar bill will buy them the same amount of goods or services that it bought the day before.

Inflation not only undermines the value of our money, it also undermines our faith in our government and its institutions. No matter how many different ways we do it, additional money for society will not create wealth. If merely increasing the amount of money would make society better off, or wealthier, then counterfeiters would be heroes.

One of the few things that economists around the world agree on is that in the long run, the only thing that more money does is create higher prices


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