LBJ on Economics

“Making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It may seem hot to you,but it never does to anyone else.” Cited in Robert A. Caro, Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (2012)


  • one may want to consider wearing shorts when making an economic speech, a bit more efficient- although I am sure they will be more puddling on stage so watch yourself when you leave the stage and what ever you do, do not touch the microphone unless you are wearing thick soled shoes.

  • Hilarious quote Mel! LBJ sure had a way with words. And very true, sadly. There is something about economics that turns almost everyone’s mind off almost immediately. Probably because much of economics is non-intuitive. One of the few concepts that is powerfully intuitive, albeit erroneous and disabling, is the idea that the finances of the federal government are the same as household finance. So we wind up struggling to get minimal public services and infrastructure despite there being plenty of people and resources to provide far more.

  • Well, one concept I’ve always found powerfully intuitive is the idea that if one small group of people grabs everything, there is less left over for everybody else.
    Much of contemporary economic discourse is dedicated to coming up with ways to claim that is in some way not the case; it’s no surprise the required sophistry is on the boring and non-intuitive side.

  • Mel: I heard you cite that quote years ago.

  • the reason for the warm waste disposal being an inconveniance, if the only solution that gets the light of day means chasing and successfully building a distopia of market deregulation, that rewards the few and prevents moving forward for the many, then the guy speaking should be lucky it is only piss running down his leg and not blood.

    Economists are in a blood sport here, yet not many ever see the end results of their policy, but 5 years into this great decline, and well, for the first time in a long time, the questions are mounting and no functional answers can be found within the establishment. I seen David Harvey on Charlie Rose last week, so maybe, even the liberal democrats are getting nervous and they are showing the wealthy elites, just what they could help unleash on them if they do not start with a liberal solution. I guess for progressives iNCanada, given the middling of the new seemingly polarization of politics
    in Canada, there is maybe a chance that a newly defined, mix of third Wayism and social democracy could catch on. Something is better than nothing.

  • As with forensic engineering, the more convoluted the theory needs to be to explain a failure, the less I trust the theory. The better one understands a phenomenon, the better one gets at reaching a wide audience and imparting this understanding. LBJ’s economists were well along on the Minsky Journey without any understanding of the implications for us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *