Friday, August 02, 2013

RSA -- The Austerity Delusion

For those that follow my Twitter feed (embedded on the right side of this blog) you already know about the RSA. For those that don't, the RSA is the Royal Society of Arts. Properly, it is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Since the demise of Talk of the Nation, I have been casting about for a new podcast. I've struck gold in the RSA. I think of it as the United Kingdom's version of TED Talks.

I've been listening to various podcasts for about a week now and I just finished listening to this particular one a second time. That's right, I've listened to an hour-long podcast about economics a second time. Here's why.

The speaker is Mark Blyth. He's a Scot so the accent is troublesome when you're trying to listen to a podcast. But on top of that, he talks at warp speed and doesn't take a break. He puts forth an idea that just blows your mind and -- without pausing -- proceeds to the next idea, which is just as big. You're still trying to process the first one and he's already halfway through the next one. As I told those on my Twitter feed, it's like listening to Scotty give Spock a lecture on engineering (except we're talking economics.) He knows his audience is smart (except for folks like me and I've got a rewind button) so he doesn't have to dumb it down, slow it down or water it down.

And it's that last part I want to tease you with. To me, this is Professor Blyth's greatest strength; He is blunt. He is to the point. He doesn't even bother with the "straight to the". Him -> point. For instance:

"The United States could run 200% debt and everybody else would have to just shut up and deal with it."

(If you'll listen to the podcast, you'll understand the aircraft carriers. But, then again, the aircraft carriers make the point don't they?)

(Yes, you've seen this before.)

When an audience member asked about the gold index he replied dismissively,

"Look -- Gold is a fear index. Just stop. Anybody that talks about gold...take them outside, give them and drink and send them home. There's nothing there. One third of the gold in the world is around the neck of Indian peasants, right? It doesn't mean they're a rich county."

These quotes are from the Question & Answer period. In other words, he's thinking on his feet and speaking with a clarity that is rare even when one's remarks are prepared in advance.

Set aside some time and listen.

As you might be able to tell, I've become addicted to podcasts. I encourage you to find some you like. You'll enjoy this more if you're listening on your iPhone or whatever. But if you're confused by all this, click here, and you can listen to it on your computer just like any other .mp3 file you're used to.

I'll leave you with a plea to visit the RSA's archive and listen to something that grabs your attention. They cover every topic under the sun so you ought to be able to find something.

Don Brown
August 2, 2013
(You know what that makes tomorrow, right?)


Anonymous said...

Highly recommend the "point of inquiry" podcasts in addition to the RSA ones.

jim E smith said...

very cool on the date thing Don...thanks from this PATCO guy...