Romney, Bain, and Me

Originally published at The American Spectator

IN THE EARLY 1980s, soon after the publication of Wealth & Poverty, I received a phone call from a man with a mellow mid-Southern accent, honed from roots in rural Tennessee and long years talking down to top executives of American enterprise. William Bain was the name, “but everyone calls me Bill,” he said. I had never heard of him, or his eponymous company, a consulting firm in Boston with ambitions in venture capital, but I was soon on board calling him “Bill” and listening closely to what he had to say.

He invited me to speak to his team of Bain & Company partners, and also, if he might…no Offense…he wanted to impart some ideas of his own, some points I might have missed on supply-side economics.“We’ve done some research,” he said, “that shows the theory is much more general and powerful than even you believe.”

As one unused to charges of underestimating the power of supply-side theory, I was intrigued. I went on to give many hundreds of speeches and do scores of debates with such figures as Robert Reich, the Harvard professor who became secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton; Lester Thurow, the eminent MIT professor and bestselling author;And the legendary six-foot-eight-inch tribune of tall taxes, John Kenneth Galbraith of Harvard and Gstaad, Switzerland. I received astonishing fees of up to six figures (a level I breached for an event in Cambridge, UK, for a German bank). At the time, supply-side was that hot. But every speech and book that I produced from then on bore the imprint of my conversations with people at Bain. I learned more from them than from any other audience or, if truth be told, from my four years of Harvard, which included little economics beyond disgruntled attendance at a lecture by Galbraith reading out loud word-for-word from his bestselling book.

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George Gilder

Senior Fellow and Co-Founder of Discovery Institute
George Gilder is Chairman of Gilder Publishing LLC, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A co-founder of Discovery Institute, Mr. Gilder is a Senior Fellow of the Center on Wealth & Poverty, and also directs Discovery's Technology and Democracy Project. His latest book, Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy (2018), Gilder waves goodbye to today's Internet.  In a rocketing journey into the very near-future, he argues that Silicon Valley, long dominated by a few giants, faces a “great unbundling,” which will disperse computer power and commerce and transform the economy and the Internet.