What's new
US Message Board 🦅 Political Discussion Forum

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

The way deanie agrees with Ben Stein

Sep 12, 2008
Reaction score
Ben Stein is reviewing an article he saw in Reason Magazine.
There was a lengthy interview with an economist from the World Bank by the name of Kirk Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton was referring to the legendary genius, Adam Smith, and his key work, The Wealth of Nations. In that work, Dr. Smith explained that the real wealth of nations did not lie in farmland or minerals or ports or woodlands or shovel ready construction projects or schools with Internet connections.
The real riches of a nation were what its citizens carried around between their ears, in their brains. The real wealth of a nation was the aggregate knowledge, discipline, creativity, energy, imagination, and willingness to persevere of its people. That, said Dr. Hamilton, amounted to about 80 per cent of the wealth of a great nation like Japan or the USA. This was why the USA was so much richer than even oil-laden nations like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia: because our people had so much more going on between their ears than the people of mineral-rich but mentally undeveloped nations. In poor Third World countries, Dr. Hamilton noted, there is little intellectual capital because the people are so uneducated and (presumably) have such poor work skills. In those countries, whatever wealth there is consists of minerals or lumber. This is not enough to make any sizeable nation rich.
This struck me as so true, and so important, that it compelled a series of thoughts in my febrile brain: if the USA is as rich as the total number of our people times the average of what they know and can accomplish, we are in a phase of intense downgrade of our wealth. I think that's Dr. Hamilton's point, too.
The ordinary American -- as far as I can tell -- knows so much less than he did fifty years ago and has such poor work habits compared with fifty years ago that the average multiplicand of knowledge/capabilities is a much smaller number than it was in 1961.
This means that the wealth per capita will inevitably fall. More than the stock market's fall, more than the bust in housing, what we are seeing is a collapse in the value of the knowledge asset in this country.

Fundamentally, education is skills. Skills that further divide and enable labor. A better educated society is a wealthier society.

That does not mean that all education is equal. GBTL studies is not as socially valuable as an electronic engineering degree. With one, you are lucky to be unemployed. With the other, you can get a job that pays by the shovelful right out of college.

Schools are not the exclusive responsibility of the teachers. Education is much more the responsibility of the parent. And as we, as a nation know less and less, and more and more of the stuff we do know is just plain not so, then we are that much poorer.


Jun 28, 2011
Reaction score
Education is much more the responsibility of the parent.

Would you please elaborate on that one point? It kind of sticks out of the OP like a sore thumb.
Last edited:


Platinum Member
Sep 30, 2011
Reaction score
I would be interested in hearing that.

USMB Server Goals

Total amount

New Topics

Most reactions - Past 7 days

Forum List