We can build railways and food-distribution networks in Ethiopia and reverse-engineer viruses and figure out clever ways to squeeze a little more productivity out of an acre of agricultural land or a lithium battery. Howard Hughes was one of the richest men in the world, but he never drove a car as good as yours. Most of your grandparents never set foot in a house as nice as an ordinary new house in 2016. And the children who are born in 2017 will one day look back on us as poor.
Tolerance and pluralism are important values in a free society. So are choice and association. Your choices may not be mine; my preferred associations may not be yours. In a diverse, live-and-let-live culture, our differences are manageable — as long as government doesn’t interfere. The state can’t force Elton John to take a gig he doesn’t want. It shouldn’t be able to force anyone else to, either.
But there is one thing I hope all my students remember forever—the role of prices and private property. In particular, I want them to remember how these mechanisms are vital for a free and prosperous society. I make it clear to them that I think this material is of the utmost importance. In fact, prior to beginning our discussion of prices, I tell them I will be thrilled if the price system is one thing they remember from the class fifteen years from now.
(DBx: If you wish to be a competent economist, take note: no amount – and I mean literally no amount – of knowledge of, and facility with, econometrics, regardless of how many data are available to work with and to process, even begins to substitute for a sound understanding of price theory. Even if you are by wide acclaim the world’s greatest econometrician, if you are a weak price theorist, you are not a competent economist. You do not understand economics; you cannot understand the economy.)
My recommendation: Quickly appoint Randy Barnett to the D.C. Circuit, and Eugene Volokh to the 9th Circuit.