William Rosen’s “The Most Powerful Idea in the World”


Source of book image: http://ffbsccn.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/the-most-powerful-idea-in-the-world.jpg

The range of William Rosen’s fascinating and useful book is very broad indeed. He is interested in THE question: why did the singular improvement in living standards known as the industrial revolution happen where and when it did?
The question is not just of historical interest—if we can figure out what caused the improvement then and there, we have a better shot at continuing to improve in the here and now.
I especially enjoyed and learned from William Rosen’s discussion, examples and quotations on the difficult issue of whether patents are on balance a good or bad institution.
Deirdre McCloskey taught me that the most important part of a sentence is the last word, and the most important part of a paragraph is the last sentence, and the most important part of a chapter is the last paragraph.
Here are the last couple of sentences of Rosen’s book:

(p. 324) Incised in the stone over the Herbert C. Hoover Building’s north entrance is the legend that, with Lincoln’s characteristic brevity, sums up the single most important idea in the world:




In the next few weeks I will occasionally quote a few of the more illuminating passages from Rosen’s well-written account.

Book discussed:
Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

Paternalistic Welfare State Discourages Integration of Immigrants

(p. A9) . . . Alf Svensson [is a] former leader of the center-right Christian Democrats.
. . .
Sweden’s paternalistic welfare state is partly to blame for some immigrants’ marginal status in the economy, said Mr. Svensson. “We had…a system which was ‘taking care’ of immigrants, which didn’t give them a chance to flex their own wings and show what they could do, and this has made integation worse,” he said.

For the full story, see:

MARCUS WALKER And CHARLES DUXBURY. “Far-Right Party Wins Seats in Sweden.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., SEPTEMBER 20, 2010): A9.

(Note: bracketed words and first two ellipses added; last ellipsis in original.)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated SEPTEMBER 19, 2010.)