Progress Is Possible
If We Are Willing and Able to Make Course CorrectionsRSVP
Bad news is sometimes a warning that our current course is based on a miscalculation, Senior Fellow Paul Romer observes, and at these crucial junctures, perseverance would send us on a march of folly.
“My work on the economics of ideas gives me confidence that progress is always possible, even when the news is grim,” he says. “The world presents us with possible paths forward that there will always be some that let us move forward. But each one works only for a while. The complexity that generates these possibilities makes it impossible for any person or group to chart a course that will be viable in the distant future. At best, our calculations will be approximately right for a brief period of time.”
Romer posits that the only way forward is an infinite cycle of “try and revise.” This cycle, he contends, requires a pragmatism informed by imagination, courage, and humility.
“Imagination helps us see new possibilities,” he notes. “Courage lets us try them when we are uncertain. Having committed, humility prepares to revise as new evidence comes in.”
To illustrate this approach in the large and small, Romer, in his talk, will suggest some course corrections that market economies could make and explain why he changed jobs so many times in his career.
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