For we two baseball fans, spring is a special treat. All our lives, spring marked annually the rebirth baseball’s greatest left-hander, Vin Scully. Last year served his 67th and final year as the voice of our favorite team, the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers.
This new season without the calming cadence of our hero of the airwaves, the debut of his successor reminds us of the infinite procession of human talent playing across the world stage. Vin Scully will no longer narrate Dodger games, but 28-year-old Joe Davis will have the opportunity to begin a new legacy in his place. This causes us to consider the various rites of passage we all undertake, each person adding a new facet to the human legacy.
So, we recall our earliest professional endeavors and how we admired those who came before us. We each cut our teeth three decades apart, but we both recognized greatness in our fields and sought to learn from and emulate those we admired. While we’ve had the good fortune to meet and interact directly with many great and insightful economists during our careers, we’ve also engrossed ourselves in the written wisdom of those who passed before us.
We hope our work and that of our many contemporaries continues to renew the legacies of great thinkers like Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ronald Coase and others. Recently, we memorialized the career end of a living legend, Thomas Sowell. We are honored to have stood on the shoulders of these and other giants, and we hope our modest contributions are worthy of their great ones.
So it is in every field of human endeavor. We all have our time in the sun, but none of us could accomplish much without the accumulated contributions of those who came before us. Some are more innovative and productive than others, of course, which is why we seek to emulate those who have made the greatest contributions.
Over time, the accumulation of knowledge by human beings, the specialization it enables, followed by rounds of innovation and emulation by up-and-comers – all that lays the intellectual foundation for human progress. Economists typically speak of human progress in terms of material wellbeing, but we like to emphasize the broader notion of human flourishing. All forms of progress rely on the evolution of ideas and the ability of human beings to pass the torch from one generation to the next.
Geoff reflected on these things earlier this week while watching his young kids play on the first shoots of green grass behind their house. As Carson and Sage grow into adulthood, he wondered who they would one day admire and seek to emulate. What contributions will they make, and will they one day become major contributors in their fields, imparting their wisdom and creativity to succeeding generations?
Ron’s daughter Karyn is beginning to flower from teenager into a stunning young lady. Her interests differ from his, but she’s beginning to show great creativity, initiative and follow-through in addition to the sweetness, character and great sense of humor she has always exhibited. As Ron witnesses the spring-time of her life, he feels truly blessed.
Ronald Reagan noted: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” If the values of individual liberty and free enterprise and the hope, happiness and prosperity they engender are not sufficiently expounded by one generation and transmitted to the next, they could give way to a long dark age.
For over two centuries, America’s institutions and practices have yielded continually expanding horizons and made us the healthiest, wealthiest generation in all human history. We owe it to our children and all future generations to continue that legacy. That’s why we do all we can to preserve those institutions and practices. And when our moment is over, we hope there will be others to whom we may pass the baton, like Vin Scully to Joe Davis.
As we celebrate spring and renewal, we note a few reasons our efforts are important. Their names are Karyn, Carson and Sage.