Jean-Robert Tyran

This picture is an illustration of the basic economic thought “it’s all about people”. There are at least two ways to read this sentence.

One is in terms of “where from”? The wealth of nations comes ultimately from the wealth of their people. Or more precisely, from the wealth within the people. Prosperity comes from peoples’ creativity and innovation, from creating values with brains and brawn, and from caring for the future by saving and investing. It’s driven by the people’s ability to constantly re-organize and re-think their lives and businesses, and by a culture of cooperation and trust, e.g. a propensity to keep our promises and to honor contracts. Of course, we need sound institutions to prosper. Things like stable money, an impartial police ensuring the rule of law, fair regulation of markets, and non-corrupt government. But all these things cannot work well if imposed by some external authority or sustained by fiat. The salvation is us. We, the people, need to study, to work, to save and invest, to manage, to trust and cooperate. We, the people, need to create a polity which rewards creativity, work, investments, trust and cooperation  — and allows us to get rid of corrupt politicians. This is only possible with empowered people.

The other way to read the sentence is in terms of “what for”? Clearly, the purpose of economic organization is to promote well-being (or happiness). In practice, it is difficult to say how exactly we can promote “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” (Jeremy Bentham) of people. After all, we are all unique and special in our own ways. Self-interest is a strong motive for many to study, work, save, consume. And relying on ourselves is a sound basis for a prosperous society. But in the end, “no man is an island” (John Donne). Caring for our children, our friends and neighbors, and in particular for the unfortunate is ennobling – and it is the spirit on which sound institutions and a prosperous society can be built. So, let’s get empowered. Or as Rabbi Hillel put it a long time ago: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am all for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”


Good luck for your project.


Jean-Robert Tyran


Balance - Florian Doru Crihana
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