Economics and Thinking Long

Henry Hazlitt, in his book Economics in One Lesson, writes,

The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences. The bad economist sees only what the effect of a given policy has been or will be on one particular group; the good economist inquires also what the effect of the policy will be on all groups. (4)

Hazlitt believed that economics in the 1960s suffered through a lack of long-term thinking, and a lack of considering others who might be influenced by the decisions made. He warned that society would continue to suffer without a change of mindset. In his book he writes about being frustrated that many economists were not only blind to the significance of those effects, but unwilling to consider them. He wrote,

There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: “In the long run we are all dead.” (4)

Spiritually, this kind of scoffing attitude about the long-term effects of decisions is also dangerous. Luke 14:16-23 explains the importance of understanding the long-term significance of devoting life to God before starting the conversion process. Without such a mindset, it becomes easy to get discouraged. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he writes, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). With the far future in mind, an attitude of concern for others, and a resilient perseverance, God promises a more successful spiritual life, for He is the ultimate long-term thinker.


4 thoughts on “Economics and Thinking Long

  1. You are on a roll! This ditty really rings my chimes. I appreciate the mention of the far future and the implication that the near future is not the far future, but is a factor relative to it.

  2. Ah! The nucleus of virtually every problem. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ Our thinking must be properly calibrated; if we give all our focus to the temporal, we will lose the eternal. And yet, we can be ‘so heavenly minded to be of no earthly good’. In our age however, the converse rings true: so earthly minded to be of no heavenly good!

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