Where are you from?
Grew up in NY suburbs – Rye Town NY, and Greenwich Connecticut. Have lived past 13 years in Pacific Palisades, on west side of Los Angeles.
Who are your favorite writers?
Too many to list, but near top are George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Roth, Alain de Boton. These days lots of thriller writers, too.
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Hard to say specifically re Dead Ideas – I read tons on globalization and its consequences, and on political economy generally. For my prior book, The 2% Solution, I was very much influenced by a book by the late economist Herbert Stein called Governing the $5 Trillion Economy, which first introduced me to the notion of "budgeting GDP" as a way to think about national policy. (Today GDP is around $15 trillion so that dates the book!)
In general, a desire runs through much of my writing to reconcile what I find compelling about John Rawls A Theory Of Justice, and Milton Friedman’s work. This itch or instinct inspires a lot of my underlying political and economic thinking about the possibilities of combining growth and justice under capitalism.
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Tennis, skiing, reading, hiking, listening to music, biking/walking on the beach, doing anything with my wife and daughter
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Charlie Peters, the founding editor of the Washington Monthly, gave me my break in journalism. He’s a wonderful mentor who offered wise, pithy advice that has always stayed with me. Among his best counsel: (1) Learn to empathize, really empathize, with others’ feelings and points of view. (2) Tell people what you’re for, not just what you’re against. (3) Dance with the girl that brung you.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two.
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt he world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."—George Bernard Shaw
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistance and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."—Calvin Coolidge
What is the question most commonly asked by your readers? What is the answer?
Where do you get your ideas? The answer is generally by asking dumb, "naïve" questions and coming at things in a fresh way, without being limited by what is supposedly "already known" about the way things are or have to be.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I was frustrated that you couldn’t find on offer an agenda that blended the best of liberal and conservative thinking in ways that were pragmatic and doable and equal to the magnitude of our biggest domestic and economic problems. I had a passionate desire to fill that void. The 2% Solution was the result.
Where do you write?
In my home office in Pacific Palisades. You can’t beat the commute. I feel very lucky to be able to work here.