Nils Gilman

Is it possible for conservatives and left-of-center thinkers to have a civil and substantive conversation in the Era of Trump? Steve Hayward decided to find out, and the result is this completely gonzo episode.

Steve sat down for a long and appropriately boozy dinner recently with Nils Gilman of the Berggruen Institute, and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute, for a grand tour through some of the big themes and controversies of the moment, including capitalism, “neoliberalism,” the “plutocratic insurgency” (Nils’s phrase), inequality, bank bailouts, Trump, the idea of progress itself, and ending with a first cut at a debate over the 1619 Project.

The conversation played out over Ted’s magnificent three-course dinner accompanied with fine wines, so there’s a lot of kitchen noise in the background. But this just adds to the authenticity of things, as I like to say. Ted was multitasking the whole time, preparing home made sushi and grilled wagyu beef, while jumping in and out of the conversation, and one obvious conclusion is that he has missed his calling in life as a gourmet chef and sommelier.

Ted Nordhaus

It was a long conversation and was a challenge to edit down, but there was much more left on the cutting room floor (maybe enough for a second whole episode—readers should let me know), and one thing the three of us did agree on is that we have to do it again some time soon.

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Published in: Economics, History, Politics

There are 5 comments.

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  1. Bill R Member
    Bill R
    @BillR

    “All that wealth creation has been captured by  the top 90%”

    That is only superficially true.  Steve Jobs for example.  He made a lot of money.  But my wealth increased too.  I have a personal computer, something that didn’t exist before Steve Jobs.  I can watch Pixar movies. This makes my life better and so increases my wealth.  I have an iPhone.  That makes me wealthier.  I paid $600 for the thing so I think it added more than $600 to my life. When I bought it, my wealth increased by that much. Because I have a computer and everyone else has a computer, we can all have the internet.  With access to the internet,  we have at our fingertips more knowledge than the best 1,000 libraries in the world put together.  That makes me wealthier and everyone else wealthier.  And the internet accelerates innovation and commerce and that makes everyone wealthier still.

    None of that would exist except that Steve Jobs figured out a way to make personal computers affordable and accessible.

    Let’s say that Steve Jobs made a billion dollars,OK?  Let’s say further that there are a billion people in the world whose lives were made $1,000 better by Steve Jobs’ innovations.

    It’s more than a billion people and their lives are improved by a lot more than 1,000 but let’s be conservative since we are Conservatives.

    So Steve Jobs was responsible for the creation of one trillion dollars worth of wealth.  He kept a billion.  A thousandth of the total.   You are welcome to it Steve, wherever you are.

    • #1
  2. Steven Hayward Member
    Steven Hayward
    @StevenHayward

    Bill R (View Comment):

    “All that wealth creation has been captured by the top 90%”

    That is only superficially true. Steve Jobs for example. He made a lot of money. But my wealth increased too. I have a personal computer, something that didn’t exist before Steve Jobs. I can watch Pixar movies. This makes my life better and so increases my wealth. I have an iPhone. That makes me wealthier. I paid $600 for the thing so I think it added more than $600 to my life. When I bought it, my wealth increased by that much. Because I have a computer and everyone else has a computer, we can all have the internet. With access to the internet, we have at our fingertips more knowledge than the best 1,000 libraries in the world put together. That makes me wealthier and everyone else wealthier. And the internet accelerates innovation and commerce and that makes everyone wealthier still.

    None of that would exist except that Steve Jobs figured out a way to make personal computers affordable and accessible.

    Let’s say that Steve Jobs made a billion dollars,OK? Let’s say further that there are a billion people in the world whose lives were made $1,000 better by Steve Jobs’ innovations.

    It’s more than a billion people and their lives are improved by a lot more than 1,000 but let’s be conservative since we are Conservatives.

    So Steve Jobs was responsible for the creation of one trillion dollars worth of wealth. He kept a billion. A thousandth of the total. You are welcome to it Steve, wherever you are.

    This is the analysis I often present to students, noting that most of them are taking notes on their MacBooks and texting on iPhones!

    • #2
  3. Bill R Member
    Bill R
    @BillR

    Steven Hayward (View Comment):

    Bill R (View Comment):

    “All that wealth creation has been captured by the top 90%”

    That is only superficially true. Steve Jobs for example. He made a lot of money. But my wealth increased too. I have a personal computer, something that didn’t exist before Steve Jobs. I can watch Pixar movies. This makes my life better and so increases my wealth. I have an iPhone. That makes me wealthier. I paid $600 for the thing so I think it added more than $600 to my life. When I bought it, my wealth increased by that much. Because I have a computer and everyone else has a computer, we can all have the internet. With access to the internet, we have at our fingertips more knowledge than the best 1,000 libraries in the world put together. That makes me wealthier and everyone else wealthier. And the internet accelerates innovation and commerce and that makes everyone wealthier still.

    None of that would exist except that Steve Jobs figured out a way to make personal computers affordable and accessible.

    Let’s say that Steve Jobs made a billion dollars,OK? Let’s say further that there are a billion people in the world whose lives were made $1,000 better by Steve Jobs’ innovations.

    It’s more than a billion people and their lives are improved by a lot more than 1,000 but let’s be conservative since we are Conservatives.

    So Steve Jobs was responsible for the creation of one trillion dollars worth of wealth. He kept a billion. A thousandth of the total. You are welcome to it Steve, wherever you are.

    This is the analysis I often present to students, noting that most of them are taking notes on their MacBooks and texting on iPhones!

    Power line is on my daily read list so I’m honored. 

     

    • #3
  4. Jdetente Member
    Jdetente
    @

    This is top notch. I love hearing these types of conversations. Three smart people wrestling with big ideas but doing so with respect. More please!

    • #4
  5. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    I loved it.  Those guys are sharp.  Do it again.  P.S.  If you need a fourth, I love sushi and wagyu and have plenty of frequent flyer miles.  :)

    • #5
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