Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Condi Rice, Adam Smith, and the Invisible Hand

Back in November, The Times Online (UK, not NY) published a very interesting biolography of Condoleezza Rice [Thanks to BrianF for the pointer]. In case you missed it, here are some excerpts:

The family lived in Titusville, one of Birmingham’s black
middle-class neighbourhoods, a close-knit community in which the Rices sheltered their daughter from the harsh realities of segregation....

[Condi's mother], Angelena Rice devoted herself to her daughter’s
intellectual and artistic development. With piano lessons and a full schedule of training in other subjects, Condi gained self-discipline long before she started school. “It was a very controlled environment with little kids’ clubs and ballet lessons and youth group and church every Sunday,” she recalled later.

Rice’s mother refused to play by the Jim Crow rules. She stood her
ground. One confrontation took place at a department store, where Angelena and Condi were browsing through dresses. Condi picked one she wanted to try on, and they walked towards a “whites only” dressing room. A saleswoman blocked their path and took the dress out of Condi’s hand. “She’ll have to try it on in there,” she said, pointing to a storage room.

Coolly, Angelena replied that her daughter would be allowed to
try on her dress in a real dressing room or she would spend her money elsewhere. Angelena was composed, firm and resolved. Aware that this elegantly dressed black woman would not back down, the shop assistant decided that her commission was worth more than a public incident and ushered them into a dressing room as far from view as possible.
So the shopkeeper was led, as if by an invisible hand, to participate in racial integration because doing so would make her better off. Why? because people respond to incentives.

A survey of right-of-centre bloggers indicated Condoleeza Rice ranks number one as their most desired nominee to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2008. It would interesting, to say the least, to go experience a campaign between Rice and Hillary Clinton. [survey link from Tom Hanna]
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