Experience is the teacher of all things

COMMENT: You frequently explain that economic understanding can only come from personal experience, not a degree. In his book, Memories of Summer, the baseball writer Roger Kahn interviews the great Willie Mays in the 1950s, and Mays explains his success: “… nobody can teach you nothing like you can learn yourself… nobody can write a book that will teach you… you got to learn for yourself and you go do it your way.”

REPLY: Yes. I can write and point out the connections. But you have to see them yourself. I have also pointed out that your trading LOSSES are more valuable than your wins. The reason is we all learn from our mistakes unless you are a politician or a leftist who prefers to blame others. The wins we just pat ourselves on the back and never question was it skill or just luck.

One of my favorite people in history was Julius Caesar (100-44BC). He has been the victim of fake news which called him a dictator when he was a man who defended the people against a corrupt oligarchy (see Anatomy of a Debt Crisis). Ut est rerum omnium magister usus (“Experience is the teacher of all things” or more generally “experience is the best teacher“) is a quote attributed to Julius Caesar in De Bello Civile, the war commentaries of the Civil War.

I was impressed by his writings as a young student as was the case with Marcus Aurelius and his Meditations along with Aristotle and Plato.