Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good time to invest in bulk Lincoln cents

A January 2007 New York Times column by Austan Goolsbee urges the government to declare the Lincoln penny to be worth five cents. Goolsbee credits the idea to a Mr. Velde. (The article proposes doing away with the nickel, but I'd suggest keeping it for a few years as a proof-only collectable.)

Why is this proposal interesting? First, it's a good proposal! We like The Penny but it isn't worth enough to use. This $5.6 billion idea isn't much compared with the "stimulus package." Second, the NY Times columnist proposing it is Austan Goolsbee, chief economic advisor to Barack Obama (who seems about 51% likely to become US President) who is looking for cheap new ideas to reduce waste and stimulate the economy.

I'd say the chances are pretty good this will pass and suggest that holding a few grand in Lincoln cents might pay off during these uncertain times.

A President's chief economic advisor is probably the most important job. Unlike his VP choice it flys completely under the radar. Few people are talking about Goolsbee.

Goolsbee seems interesting! He is a University of Chicago professor in the new field of Behavioral Economics. George Will says he seems like the sort of person you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president. He is associated with the ideas of 'libertarian paternalism' believing that rather than forcing people (on retirement, health care, etc) society should be set up so that there are these Great Society-type programs but folks who don't want them can opt out. I think this is a much better idea that the traditional Democratic idea of forced help or the Republican idea of faith-based non-governmental help.

Goolsbee's former hobby is preforming improv comedy. I share this hobby and think it is good training for thinking on ones feet. Watch a video of the Yale improv team (post-Goolsbee, unfortunately, so we don't know how funny he is.)

Goolsbee is a member of Skull and Bones and was the first member to 'tap' women for the secret society. I can't even think of a spin for this fact; I sense it reveals something important but I don't know what.

Commentary for undecided US voters: Both candidates want to trim waste and massively intervene in the financial sector of the economy. Neither has run a major business successfully. Conservatives shouldn't write off Obama's economics because he is a democrat. Goolsbee has some good new ideas and they aren't the tax-and-spend / borrow-and-spend ideas that we've had for the last two decades.

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