These are crazy times.

Ever since the Great Recession hit the world in 2008, nothing seems to be normal. The so-called "advanced economies" are in a serious need of emerging from their stupor. And "emerging economies" are increasingly viewed as being powerful enough to save the world. In tough times like these, when the need to collect ourselves and come together as humankind is the greatest, unprecedented level of divisiveness and propensity to kick the proverbial can down the road seem to be universally rampant.

This is particularly jarring in the United States of America which is known for its inventiveness, generosity, courage, work-ethic and resilience. Instead, now ideas have given way to ideologies. Public service has been superseded by self-interest among politicians of every stripe, and at all levels of government. And instead of brilliant minds with diverse viewpoints coming together to illuminate a path forward, they end up generating mostly heat through their arguments. Is it any surprise then that for the first time in the country's history, youth in America face a non-trivial probability of not being better off than their parents?

The goal of this project is to cut through the nonsensical noise & smoke-and-mirrors stuff coming out of all politicians, most academics, and many business leaders, and find solutions to some of the more thorny problems of today. In a not-so-subtle nod to Applesque and Jobsian definitions, "crazy" is being used here in its most positive and enlightened form and the project is being called "CrazEconomics".

What gives us optimism that this can be achieved?

For one, none of the problems we are facing today are particularly unique or alien. Somewhere, sometime in the past, someone has dealt with issues similar to those we face today.

Two, as humankind, there are more of us here today. And as far as we can tell, we as a species have not regressed in intelligence. Thus, as people, we not only have greater cumulative intelligence and experiential wisdom at our disposal than at any time in the past, there's also a good chance that our average intelligence and wisdom is higher than ever before.

Three, one of the reasons these problems have not been solved thus far is perhaps rooted in the fact that the so-called experts have become too narrowly specialized. It's easy for them to miss the forest for the trees. By approaching these problems at a higher level (if not with a higher level of thinking, we add modestly), we remain optimistic.

And lastly, for diehard pessimists amongst you, if we don't find a solution to these problems, your predictions will come true. For most of us, that will be bad news. If that is not a cause for staying optimistic, we don't know what is.

On a personal note, this project is being formally launched on the 25th anniversary of my arrival in the United States. When I landed at John F. Kennedy airport on a hot and muggy August afternoon in 1987, I did not know how long I was going to be here. I certainly didn't think it would be 25 years (and counting)! As a world citizen, it is hard to think of one country as home. However, there's no doubt that in 25 years I have made this my home base. I am fortunate to have a few of my brightest and most diligent students assisting me with research and analysis on this project. I hope we can make a small contribution towards increasing our understanding of our current problems and, hopefully, restoring some of the country's past glory and confidence.

On that cheerful note, let's get to work! As we complete our research and analysis, we are adding ideas for possible solutions to the issues. And we always welcome feedback, discussion and constructive debate.

 

Atul V. Minocha

Date: August 16, 2012

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