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“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Are you too busy to read this issue of Skousen CAFÉ (five minutes)? This issue could change your life!
Special Note on the Coming Recession: The federal government released gross output (GO) today for the third quarter. While real gross domestic product (GDP) rose a robust 3.2%, the real GO tells a different story. Adjusted real GO rose a tepid 1.6% in the third quarter, and business spending (B2B) actually declined by 2.7% in real terms. GO, the top line in national income accounting, is the broadest measure of total spending in the economy. Adjusted real GO rose 4% in the first quarter, 2.0% in the second quarter and 1.6% in the third quarter — indicating that there is no recession. However, there has been a definite slowdown in economic growth as we head into 2023. My press release will be published later this afternoon at www.grossoutput.com.
There are hundreds of motivational books, including “The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie and “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason.
I’ve read all these classics, but none can compare to “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.
Why? Because of one single chapter in the entire book: Chapter 11, “The Mystery of Sex Transmutation.” This one chapter is the reason the book has sold over 15 million copies.
He states, “Sex desire is the most powerful of human desires…the emotion of sex contains the secret of creative ability.”
Hill’s basic thesis is that the sex drive is man’s Achilles heel, his fatal flaw. It is so strong that it frequently causes man to make life-changing mistakes in his dating and married life, as well as in his relationship with his fellow man.
But Napoleon Hill has a solution. The key is not to suppress this natural desire, but to channel that powerful sex drive into creative ambition in your career, whether it be business, science or the arts, and it will lead to success and “growing rich.” Turn that burning desire toward finding fame, power or financial gain.
As Hill states, “Among the greatest, and most powerful of these stimuli is the urge of sex. When harnessed and transmuted, this driving force is capable of lifting men into that higher sphere.”
Read his famous chapter 11 here.
Another Powerful Source of Creative Genius
But there is another source of creative power besides the sex drive.
In the mid-1980s, I happened to be in Durango, Colorado, a small college town, and came across a first edition of a book called “The Importance of Living,” by the Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang.
I had tried to read Chinese philosophers before, but I never found them appealing until this book came along.
What makes Lin Yutang so different from Confucius, Mencius and Lao Tzu? He lived in both the East and the West in the mid-20th century, and he consequently does an extraordinary job of contrasting the cultures. His book was so refreshing and shocking, and so charming and witty, that I found myself underlining something on practically every page. And though Lin wrote his book in 1937, he sounds very modern.
What is his thesis? The key to creativity and “growing rich” in wisdom and wealth is having free time, and to use that leisure time to come up with great new ideas and solutions. Lin Yutang is the philosopher of “letting go.”
The Age of Busyness
This one sentence in Lin’s book changed my entire view of life:
“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.”
I made the mistake of writing this statement on the blackboard on my first day of class as a professor at Columbia Business School in 2004. A third of the MBA students dropped the class. They were too busy checking their cell phones. (Fortunately, the majority had an open mind about pursuing interests other than a 24/7 lifestyle, and they rated my class highly.)
Yet, there is wisdom in Lin’s statement. If you are too busy in your work, you don’t have time to develop new ideas, to discover new truths, to enjoy life’s little pleasures or perhaps to pick a winning stock! Beating the market requires you to look down untrodden paths, and you need the free time to do it.
How often do you come up with your best ideas early in the morning when you are resting?
Lin Yutang criticizes most Americans for being too busy, and therefore slaves to business culture and the old ways. After all, businessman and busy-man go hand in hand!
The holidays should be a time for relaxation and enjoying some down time. Time to read this issue of Skousen CAFÉ.
‘Leisure, the Basis of Culture’
In the 1990s and early 2000s, I was a columnist for “The Freeman,” the monthly publication of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the oldest free-market think tank in the United States.
Then, in 2001, I applied for and became the president of the FEE, and I compiled 80 of my best columns into a book called “The Power of Economic Thinking.” It was published by FEE in 2002.
One of my favorite chapters is on “Leisure, the Basis of Culture,” the freedom to pursue your own interests and not just the interests of the boss. That’s what financial independence is all about.
As Lin Yutang says, “How inscrutable is the civilization where men toil and work and worry their hair gray to get a living and forget to play.”
It reminds me of this quote by Henry Winn in “The Maxims of Wall Street” (p. 23):
“We squander health in search of wealth,
We scheme and toil and save,
Then squander wealth in search of health,
And find at last a grave.”
It’s a bit grim but, unfortunately, it is so true in today’s rat race.
Another Box of Wisdom Found in My Garage!
“The Power of Economic Thinking” (known as POET for short) is now out of print, but some of my fans consider it their favorite book. Larry Wimmer, a former professor of economics at BYU, wrote me, “In many ways, POET is my favorite of your books, with the possible exception of ‘The Making of Modern Economics’ … I have earmarked several chapters to use in my classes.”
There are 80 short chapters on a wide range of fun topics, including politics, investing, religion, criminal justice, business, sports, health care, gun rights, education and economics. These include:
How a single policy change could double a nation’s economic growth rate.
Why private companies were able to solve their own pension problems, but Social Security cannot.
The economic reasons for terrorism in the Middle East.
Buddhist versus Christian economics.
One graph says it all: the Economic Freedom Index.
Why financial markets are inherently unstable.
What is the best forecaster of future inflation: stocks, gold, or oil?
Did the gold standard cause the Great Depression?
Great turnarounds in history: Milton Friedman, Paul Samuelson, and other famous economists who changed their minds.
Will Keynesianism and Marxism ever die?
Economists prove that the poor are getting richer too: a private sector solution to world poverty (from the only economist to win the Nobel Peace Prize!)
How capitalism and free trade can bring peace on earth and good will toward men.
I have more exciting news! In cleaning out my garage this fall, I discovered another box of valuable titles. This time, I found a whole box of POET books, 26 copies in all.
Like the other first editions, I’m making this one available to my subscribers on a first-come, first-serve basis. It’s a 334-page quality paperback. I not only autograph and date each copy, but I mail it at no extra charge inside the United States. The price is only $29 each postpaid, and when they are gone, they’re gone. To order them, go to www.skousenbooks.com.
(Note: I also have three copies left of the limited 1982 edition “The Complete Guide to Financial Privacy”).
Meanwhile, I want to wish you all a leisurely merry Christmas holiday, and a most prosperous new year.
Announcing New Speakers, Panels and Debates at FreedomFest 2023
The next week of the holiday season is the perfect time to make plans to attend “the greatest libertarian show on earth.” Our next FreedomFest will be on July 12-15, 2023, in Memphis, Tennessee.
If you have never been there, you are in for a treat. It is the birthplace of rock & roll, as well as the location of Elvis’s Graceland, the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Museum and the headquarters of FedEx, among other highlights.
Behind the scenes, I’ve confirmed some fascinating speakers and debate topics:
“Is Libertarianism Building a Better House or Burning the House Down?” Northwestern University Professor Andrew Loppelman has written a 300-page attack on Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard in his new book “Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed.”
He will be challenged by Richard Epstein, the New York University law professor who is considered the top libertarian legal mind of our time. It will be the first time both professors speak at FreedomFest.
“Should We Make the Super Rich Pay More?” Lanny Ebenstein, a University of California, Santa Barbara, professor, will make the case that the super-rich (the top 1%), such as Elon Musk, should pay more, as much as 90%, in taxes.
Defending a low flat tax will be none other than Arthur B. Laffer, dean of supply-side economics and famous for inventing the “Laffer Curve.” The sparks will fly.
Douglas Brinkley, “America’s Historian,” will join us in a wide-ranging interview on Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement… Henry Ford and the new stakeholder philosophy of capitalism… his latest book “Silent Spring Revolution” about Rachel Carson and the environmental movement… and, of course, the pros and cons of U.S. presidents in the 20th century. (He has written biographies on Roosevelt, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan). He is a history professor at Rice University and presidential historian of the New York Historical Society.
Matthew Morgan, MD, University of Utah Medical School, will speak on “How to be Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Before the Next Pandemic Hits.” Healthy living was largely ignored by the government, the media, the churches and other institutions during 2020-21. In fact, gyms were shut down during this time. They focused entirely on avoiding the symptoms — by mandating masks, social distancing, lockdowns and vaccines.
The ONLY exception I know of is Dr. Matthew Morgan. This one is not to be missed!
Steve Forbes and Amity Shlaes will talk about the new documentary “Calvin Coolidge.” Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States during the Roaring Twenties (1923-1929). Ms. Shlaes will also speak on her new book “The Great Society,” and the Great Society’s disastrous effects on the United States today. This is Ms. Shlaes’ first appearance at FreedomFest. Following the viewing of the film, Jo Ann Skousen will lead an Anthem panel with Douglas Brinkley, Amity Shlaes, Steve Forbes and producer Jed Donoghue.
Mark Gifford, former editor of East Asian Economic Review and Business Weekly, will speak on his blockbuster book “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World,” and his new book, “The Troublemaker: Jimmy Lai, China’s Most Hated Critic and His Quest for Freedom.” A film about him “The Hong Konger,” won the prize for best documentary at the Anthem Film Festival in 2020. Communist China is the #1 foreign threat to our liberties. Stay informed!
Plus, it is the 300th anniversary of Adam Smith’s birth (1723). I’ll be doing a special session on “The Genius of Adam Smith: How the Founder of Modern Economics Made Us Better and More Prosperous.”
I’ll be announcing additional new speakers, topics and debates as they become finalized.
Special Discount for Skousen Cafe Subscribers Only: $50 Off!
Make your plans to attend THE liberty conference of the year. We are offering $50 in addition to the “early bird” discount for my subscribers! To register and take advantage of this discount, go to www.freedomfest.com, and use the code EAGLE50. Or call Hayley at 1-855-850-3733, ext. 201. See you in Memphis!
Good investing, AEIOU,
You Nailed It!
FIFA Redeems Itself in the World Cup
The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, and it is growing in interest here in the United States. The United States will be one of the hosts in 2028.
Normally, I’m not a fan of football, what we call soccer, because the game is so defensive in nature.
But the World Cup is different, especially because the teams are chosen by nationality. The U.S. men’s team is an up-and-coming World Cup competitor, and the U.S. women’s team have won the women’s World Cup four times. They are even the most recent champions (2019).
It was an intense but rewarding World Cup final, with Argentina beating France. Watch the summary here.
My family was rooting for Argentina all the way (Pablo, Hayley’s husband, is Argentinian). Lionel Messi is considered one of the world’s greatest players but had not won a World Cup until now. Now, the ghost of Diego Maradona can disappear.
FIFA was heavily criticized for choosing Qatar as the host nation, since it’s a totalitarian state and ranked as “unfree” by the Freedom Index. The most recent report said that, “Qatar’s hereditary emir holds all executive and legislative authority and ultimately controls the judiciary. Political parties are not permitted, and the only elections are for an advisory municipal council. While Qatari citizens are among the wealthiest in the world, most of the population consists of non-citizens with no political rights, few civil liberties, and limited access to economic opportunity.”
Many workers lost their lives in building the stadiums. The freedom to drink beer was prohibited during the game.
But overall, it was good decision. Perhaps having thousands of Westerners visit this suppressed Arab country has helped increase trade and cultural tolerance.
I was glad to see FIFA refuse to allow teams to wear a “social justice” armband — no protests allowed. It was nice to see a “no politics” policy in the World Cup.
The woke Washington Post tried to make a big deal out of the fact that Argentina has no black players, but hey, neither do the South Koreans or Japanese. Besides, only 0.5% of all Argentinians are black. The French team relied heavily on immigrants, or the children of immigrants.