Promoting Policy Probity: Confessions of Hubwonk’s Humble Host at 200

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Promoting Policy Probity_Confessions of Hubwonk’s Humble Host at 200

[00:00:00] Joe Selvaggi: This is Hubwonk. I’m Joe Selvaggi. Welcome to Hubwonk, a podcast of Pioneer Institute, a think tank in Boston. Today’s episode is a special one. It marks the 200th episode for Hubwonk and this milestone was achieved after more than four years of weekly podcast production. I’m very proud of the show.

[00:00:20] Very happy with how it’s turned out. I won’t give you a history of where it began, but it roughly coincides with the start of COVID, if you can believe that’s four years ago. And it brings us to the present day, which, you know, the interesting, research and interesting books, never stopped coming.

[00:00:37] Rarely am I lost for, subject material, but what I want to offer in this solo podcast, one that’s much harder than having a guest, is an answer to, three basic questions that I often get from listeners, and if, for the patient listeners who stay till the end, I want to offer, some insight that I think might be helpful.

[00:00:53] Will be useful, that, doesn’t fall into the category of, research, or a book, or an author, but rather it’s just a bit of insight that I’ve been able to develop after talking to lots of interesting people over the course of four years. First a little humblebrag, I’ll say that the podcast now enjoys five to 10,000 downloads every week.

[00:01:14] in my mind, I imagine, the brag part would be, I would be thrilled to fill an auditorium with five to 10, 000 people every week and have them listen to me interview someone for a half hour. The humble part is that in that same time each week, your average cat video gets downloaded a million times.

[00:01:29] So I take that with a grain of salt. I value each and every listener. I enjoy the questions you offer me. I use those to, for insight and ideas about future, podcast, topics, but I want to answer with this question, with this podcast, why, do I use a podcast?

[00:01:46] Why don’t I write, op eds or something? Why me? What unique, skills or, assets do I bring as host? why a free market podcast? Why do we host it with Pioneer Institute, which has a, an interest in free markets? And then the final portion for those patient enough to wait, wade through all the other stuff, I’m going to offer some insight that I think might be useful for you, when listening to other podcasts, reading books, forming your own political preferences, over time.

[00:02:13] So let’s get started. I won’t say when I’ll be back. I’ll be joined by myself. Rather, let’s jump right into the, the topics at hand. First, why is it that I like podcasting? before Producing a podcast. I was a voracious consumer of podcasts. I love the format because it allows me while I’m mowing the lawn or, going for a run or at the gym or even driving, it allows me to go deep on a topic.

[00:02:39] and particularly the conversational format of an interview allows me to integrate some fairly complex concepts. all while doing something else. So, it is wonderfully useful. I think my desire to learn, to be curious, perhaps that, came, very early on in my life. But the first, format where I saw someone who I admired interviewing guests that I was interested in was, believe it or not, even as a young man, this probably dates me, I fell in love with, Firing Line with William F. Buckley. At the time it was being broadcast on PBS because, commercial television didn’t, didn’t see many viewers enjoying, Firing Line, so it was relegated to, public broadcasting. I used to watch that show and marvel at the, of course, the vocabulary that I could only, partially understand.

[00:03:25] I marveled at the civility of the dialogue. I marveled at the intelligence of both the host and the guest. And I’ve often thought, wow, the world would be better off with more of that. Regardless of your views on William F. Buckley, he always remained civil and treated his guests, at least, almost always, with the respect they deserve.

[00:03:42] So for me, that’s the North Star. Even in the, late 70s, early 80s, when I first became aware of that show, there were alternatives, again, on far more commercially successful alternatives. Those were in the form of Again, I date myself. The Jerry Springers, or the Morton Downey Jr. Loudmouth, and these were shows that were much more popular than Firing Line. It was where the host and the guests started with a civil conversation, which devolved quickly into an argument. Chairs being thrown, screaming, and all this kind of thing. Wildly entertaining. It, titillated the, most of animal instincts for, argument and conflict, but it didn’t really come away with any, new information or inspired by, some new thought for me, that framework existed long before social media, long before, computers and smartphones. We can either, choose. a format that informs, inspires us, or one that indulges our more base instincts of violence and anger. So, let’s fast forward, I don’t know, 30 years, and now we do have very similar options.

[00:04:47] We can choose something like a Twitter with an infinite scroll, and we can become more and more infuriated with a carefully curated algorithm. Or we can shut the, the feed down and indulge in a podcast format where, if possible, the host makes a sincere effort to understand and showcase, the thoughts and the work of a, I won’t say scientist, but at least someone who has done meaningful research in an academic environment or has spent years of his life, writing a book about which, the subject might be relevant to the general public.

[00:05:30] So for me, I’m channeling a firing line. I’m no William F. Buckley, but I do hope that our listeners, when they do listen to the podcast, at least, I hope I deliver on this, are eager and to learn and are inspired by the intelligence, the hard work, the sincerity, the earnest, impulses of the guest to really make the world a little smarter, and perhaps persuade them to their point of view.

[00:05:57] That’s why I like a podcast. It is the alternative. To the social media rage machine, which is really trying to play to your bias, play to your anger, and really without offering any new information in return. That’s question number one, why a podcast? Second one is, why me? why, why don’t we have a rotating guest host every week?

[00:06:20] What, let’s say, persistent, qualities do I offer to the podcast? Let me give you a little background without giving you the story of my life. Um, I think one of the most important features in my role as host is my sincere desire to understand, in general, how things work. By way of background, the most satisfying feature of my undergraduate, I studied engineering in undergrad, was You know, the engineering curriculum, what it does tell you is how to break down very complex, systems, a bridge, a building, an airplane, how do,very complex systems work, and of course, in the course of four years, you learn to break down very complex systems.

[00:06:59] It’s a very fundamental, equations or principles, and then work them back up to make sure that, when you do build something new, that, if designed properly, it can, in the real world, not fall down, not break, not fall from the sky, not topple over, the, the engineer both understand systems in a sort of way fundamental theoretical sense, but of course in applied sense, because bridges have to stay up and buildings can’t fall down. So, I enjoyed that. What I’d also say, though, is as a bit of background, I was a philosophy minor, which is very different from engineering in that whereas we have formulas and principles that have been around since Aristotle in engineering, in philosophy, we haven’t really made any meaningful progress in figuring out, how we should live our lives.

[00:07:48] In the past 2,500 years, we have a sort of the solid science of engineering and the, let’s say, aspirational, questions, presented by philosophy, therein, frames my, my, my mind. I have a little bit of both of me. What I will say, though, is the reason, there is an, in my view, an intersection between, let’s say, the science of engineering and the aspirations of philosophy is, I did stumble across.

[00:08:12] It was relatively late in my education, in undergrad. the area of economics. For me, economics, was this magical thing that took, social science, economics, But applied as some, albeit very simplified formulas that didn’t predict the future, but it explained why things work the way they do.

[00:08:30] I fell in love with, with economics, but, that really became a hobby after school. it wasn’t, I didn’t become a professional economist. I did, however, go out into the world, built several, careers, but, finally built and sold a company, that allowed me the resources to, perhaps do whatever I wanted.

[00:08:50] It was my hope to use my interest and finally indulge my interest in economics and public policy and run for Congress. I applied and was accepted to Harvard Kennedy School. It was my hope that the two-year program would make me a little smarter, a little more qualified to make policy choices.

[00:09:07] And it was my hope, again, all I knew from education was engineering, that, unlike, let’s say, partisan rants that you’ll hear on evening news or even in, more partisan, newspapers or magazines, what I expected from Harvard was that, truly dedicated policy aspiring experts would converge around, policies that were theoretically sound, meaning on paper, given what we know about the world, they should work, and then measure the results when those, policies, That is to apply an engineer’s mind to the very complex world of public policy.

[00:09:44] Perhaps it’s enough to say that public policy, at Harvard Kennedy School was not aspirationally scientific. It was more an art form. than science. In other words, what hopes governed, policy choices rather than, a demonstrated success. And I’d say, unfortunately, when those, policy preferences don’t manifest in solid outcomes, the students, and even some of the very, very good professors, really, I thought, in my view, reverted more to a religion than reason.

[00:10:22] When policies don’t work, it was not the flaw of the policy, but rather the participants, that people themselves, were the problem, in successful policymaking. It almost aspired to transform mankind or human nature rather than, work, develop policies that worked with human nature.

[00:10:40] I’ll skip over the part where after, Kennedy School I did run for office. I’ll say the relevance here is, having classmates that I would say, charitably skewed left or far left, I then ran for Congress in Massachusetts as a Republican. I did win my party’s domination, but didn’t succeed in, winning, the congressional race.

[00:11:02] But it’s enough to say that, now, many years later, I still have very good friends amongst, my former Kennedy School classmates and professors, but also from party leaders, on the Republican side. one can only imagine, dear listeners, what my Twitter feeds look like, or my email messages look like, which I have, a fairly steady stream of very right and very left leaning thinkers emailing me what they consider the most important topics of the day. The value of seeing both right and left, so close together is I think the benefit of that education being someone of, I would say, of the right, I’m able to hopefully understand and speak the language of the left and the right and understand where they’re coming from.

[00:11:48] So to answer the first question, why me? why does this experience help me as a podcast host? When I read a book, I can quickly ascertain whether the writer, has a, what I would consider a right of center or left of center worldview, and then, look at their arguments in that light.

[00:12:06] Of course, there’s no person that’s perfectly objective. We all bring our bias to our work. but some are better than others. it, mirroring, the science of policy. As a host, I have guests that I think provide honest, meaningful, analysis of past policy or potential future policy.

[00:12:25] And then I try to challenge them and understand what might be considered either weaknesses or thoughts that are incomplete within their reasoning. So, I consider myself bilingual. I can talk right. I can talk left. although I’m happy to assert that I, my views are, more right of center.

[00:12:42] Which brings me to my third question, why, listeners will often ask, why do you do a free market podcast? Why are free markets seem, that theme seems to come up quite often. And, again, I’ve studied enough economics and policy to say that whereas we all jump into the very detailed, deep, policy prescriptions, nobody starts at the beginning and says, why free markets?

[00:13:06] Or on the flip side, why aren’t free markets? In fact, I think in this time we’re living in now, free markets are criticized both from the right and the left as being fundamentally ill suited for the challenges of the time. So rather than trot out tired maxims or provocative data points or say, whoa boy, free markets have brought us all this wealth.

[00:13:27] They have, but I’d rather make a more fundamental case that I think many people, maybe even many economists don’t think about. And I’ll offer a simple model. It was actually, yesterday some kids at a Cinco de Mayo party were selling lemonade on the street. So it made me think of this particular instance.

[00:13:43] And I think. of a person walking by a lemonade stand who’s thirsty and eager to enjoy some lemonade. And what’s sitting next to him on the sidewalk is a young seller, a young entrepreneur who has gone, got some free tap water and combined it with some sugar and lemons his mom bought for him on the, at the store.

[00:14:06] And he’s eager to earn some money for a comic book. So, there we have now a market. We have a buyer and a seller. Now the buyer of the lemonade he’s thirsty. He sees that lemonade and he says, Wow, for a dollar, the dollar lemonade, that’s a pretty good deal. In fact, I’m so thirsty, I probably would have paid 1.

[00:14:20] 50. But you know what? It’s only a dollar. Here’s your dollar. Thanks for the lemonade. The young entrepreneur sells. the lemonade and takes the dollar and he says look It’s only cost me 0. 25, the water was free, and the sugar is not too expensive, and the lemons, I got a dozen of them. I would have sold that for 0.50, but I just sold it for 1, whereas I might have taken 0.50, now I’ve got 1. Now think of that simple transaction. It looked like an even trade, one for one. That, theoretically, if you’re looking at it in the abstract, should have made neither party any richer. Nothing was created or destroyed.

[00:14:56] But a closer analysis says the value of that transaction made both participants richer. It made the buyer of the lemonade, who would have paid 1. 50, because that’s how valuable it was, that lemonade to him was a value of 1. 50, He would have paid 1.50, but he paid only 1.00, so he came away giving up 1.00 and gaining 1.50 in value. Likewise, the seller, the little boy who’s made the lemonade, would have taken 0.50, but because he had a sense that the average person walking by would part with 1. 00 in exchange for the lemonade, He was made 50 cents richer than he would have otherwise. So, he had, he put out 50 cents worth of sugar, lemon, and hard work, and he got a dollar in return.

[00:15:36] So he was made 50 cents richer. So that what is perceived as an even transaction made the world richer by the amount of a dollar, which is shared between the 50 cents the seller got and the 50 cents the buyer got. That, in a nutshell, is how the whole world is so incredibly wealthy with millions and millions of transactions.

[00:15:56] Each of us specializing in what we do well. Each of us trading what we do well for, something that someone else does well. and we get a heck of a lot more wealthy. Now, that fundamentally, now it’s a very simple model, is why, in my humble view, free market advocates advocate for free markets.

[00:16:14] It’s not that they make. Sellers wealthier or buyers or anything like that. It’s that when a voluntary transaction happens, it makes both the buyer and seller better off. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t trade. So free trade is to say it’s a voluntary uncoerced transaction that benefits everyone. That’s why we like free markets.

[00:16:34] What is it about free markets that we’re wary of? Why do free market people, or people who have that intuition, get a little bit concerned when talk of taxes or regulations occurs? of course, a tax is essentially taking some of the money from the transaction and moving it away from the transaction.

[00:16:52] Which is to say, if you tax the seller, he’s going to receive a little less benefit for the, the transaction. transaction than he would otherwise. So instead of 50 cents of benefit, he would get 50 cents minus the tax. He might react by that by accepting less money and being a less prosperous seller.

[00:17:08] He might also pass that tax on to the buyer, who he would pay a little bit more for the lemonade to cover the tax, in which case that would make the buyer a little less well off. So, whereas we started with a dollar of benefit after the tax, the total benefit is going to be the total benefit minus the tax.

[00:17:25] So it makes not just one side richer or poorer, it makes both sides poorer by its very nature. The same goes for regulation. Now we can all imagine meaningful regulation for lemonade stands, but any regulation does a couple things. One is, it makes it costly to comply. You have to understand the regulation and conform to the regulation.

[00:17:44] You might have to buy a certain kind of lemon instead of what you, what was on sale. You might have to have a precise mix of sugar and, Lemon, to come, conform with standards for lemonade, and it may tie your hands if you find as a seller that your audience prefers a little more lemon or a little less sugar, you can’t adapt because you need to conform with that, regulation.

[00:18:07] So regulation, perhaps well intentioned, will always have a cost to the seller and the buyer, because if the seller has to spend time cooking, complying with regulation, it’s going to cost him money. That money has to either come out of his pocket or his buyer’s pocket. any regulation, just as a tax, makes both buyers and sellers poor.

[00:18:25] Yes, I can understand that there is a need for taxes and there is a need for regulations, but any policymaker must comply. At least acknowledge that before we consider the benefit of a cost or a regulation, we also must consider the cost to everyone of that regulation. I don’t know if that’s going to make the scales fall from anyone’s eyes, but at the very least, for those people who are suspicious of free markets, and why so many people do, advocate for them.

[00:18:51] That very simple, highly, contrived example is in broad strokes, the contours of the free market argument. Free markets make everyone richer, intervention by its nature. Nearly always makes everyone poorer. All right. So if you’ve been with me this long, we’re going to slip in something, at the end and that’s what I’m going to call the one big idea.

[00:19:12] And I hope it has, it’s not coming out of the blue, but rather is a, ties together some of the, themes, earlier about why a podcast, why me and why free markets. And this big idea is, insight I’ve learned, again, from speaking to both the advocates of the right and left. It’s not partisan.

[00:19:30] It’s not going to be a screed about why everybody should lean right or lean left. Rather, it’s something that I think it’s an error in thinking. It’s a fallacy that is at the core of a lot of bad thinking. I read and hear and see, and were we to tackle it, I think, it would short circuit at least some of the bad ideas out there, and I’m going to call this big, large idea, very bad idea, which is the fallacy of, fixed pie analysis or zero sum thinking, okay?

[00:20:06] Let me explain. As the name suggests, fixed pie suggests that, unlike the example above with the lemonade, it really sees the world as a fixed, having a fixed number of resources, a fixed amount of wealth. and that every transaction either makes neither, buyer seller richer. It’s a fixed pie.

[00:20:25] We had a dollar, and we had a lemonade. And before and after the transaction, nothing was created, nothing was destroyed. We’ve got the same. But more than that, if it’s going to be at best even, at worst, it’s going to make one party a little richer and another party a little poorer. If you raise the price of the lemonade, The seller wins if you lower the price of the lemonade, the buyer wins, no net, advancement.

[00:20:49] So, let’s take this and say, well, that doesn’t sound very profound, I can’t believe I waited for this. Well, Let’s, let’s build on this concept of zero sum thinking or zero, or fixed pie fallacy. When we imagine that there’s a fixed pie, we imagine that, when any transaction happens, there’s a winner and there’s a loser.

[00:21:09] there’s, in the lemonade situation, we can imagine that, that the seller of the lemonade was waiting for the hottest day of the summer so that they could charge 5 for the lemonade, and the, thereby exploiting the buyer’s thirst and, Exploiting his, inability to find an alternative to their lemonade, this sort of a predatory seller, likewise, the buyer may, haggle and in a sense knows that the seller, the little boy with the lemonade might sell it for 50 cents.

[00:21:41] And so instead of Buying it for a dollar, he waits until the seller is desperate and then pays him 25 cents, or perhaps even less than the little boy spent making the lemonade, thereby making the seller poor. again, I’m using very simple examples, but I want to go further and say the core of this thinking, this zero-sum thinking, leads to very bad policy preferences.

[00:22:08] And let’s explore some of these. If in this world, wealth or the benefits of free trade are perceived to have been happening in a zero-sum world, it suggests not only that wealthy people are guilty of, Being indifferent to the privations of the poor, that is to say, the wealthy might step over a homeless person and has the crime of lacking compassion.

[00:22:36] This is a bad thing. Perhaps we all should be concerned about people who are poor or people who have fewer opportunities. But if you take a zero-sum worldview, It’s not merely that the, those who have wealth are indifferent to the poor, but rather, in this view, the wealthy actually cause the poverty of the poor.

[00:23:02] That is to say, if we assume, wealth and, opportunity all should flow equally to everyone, that where there’s evidence of excess wealth, that is more than your fair share, you have, by obvious prima facie evidence, you have committed some sort of moral crime. You’ve taken more than your fair share.

[00:23:24] That, that fair share concept should sound familiar to some policy advocates. It makes a crime of industry. The flip side is it makes the poor person, clearly, it’s been evidence that he’s been exploited, meaning his fair share of wealth has been taken. in a, far from the example I offer with the trade of lemonade, in a zero-sum environment, rather than making both sides 50 percent or 50 cents richer, it in most cases makes one side much richer and the other side much poorer.

[00:24:00] This kind of thinking pervades a lot of the rhetoric, certainly of the left, but I’m going to describe some situations where it pervades the right. Let’s go and tackle the left. If you imagine that, again, there’s a fixed amount of wealth in the world, you can imagine, policy choices that see income inequality as clear evidence, broadly speaking, as being one group exploiting, and taking, the wealth of another.

[00:24:28] We hear this kind of rhetoric when we talk about differences in wealth between race, different ethnic groups. We can talk about the difference in wealth between men and women. We can talk about the wealth difference between the global north and global south. and we can apply that same heuristic to virtually any policy choice.

[00:24:53] We prefer. We can say that a, rather than, seeing a, an industrialist, a billionaire, Jeff Bezos or, Elon Musk as being someone who’s provided goods and services that millions or billions of people enjoy and are willing to trade their hard work and their hard earned money for the products they sell.

[00:25:12] Instead, the fact that they have billions suggests that they have far more than their fair share. They have literally expropriated vast amounts of wealth from otherwise happy people. They’ve exploited the world, and as such should be regarded as villains. The people who don’t have that kind of money, wherever they happen to be in the world, must have no money, largely because someone has taken their money.

[00:25:37] Someone has taken their fair share. So, this zero-sum thinking can happen to influence foreign aid, of course. We imagine, the world, the poor parts of the world must have been exploited by some wealthy nation in the West. We can use that to inform our views on even the environment. If we imagine the world was a, some pristine place with an abundance of natural resources, in a zero-sum world, anything you consume is one less, unit of wealth that can be consumed by anyone else.

[00:26:11] Zero sum thinking is an anti-consumption theory. It is saying that given there’s only so much stuff in the world, every bit you use is one less bit for the next guy to use. So, it undergirds environmental reasoning. We’ve often heard statistics. I’m trying not to do too much math on the podcast.

[00:26:29] But it’s a real reality that the United States with 330 million people in the world is about three or four percent of the world’s population. That means 24 out of 25 people are not Americans. There’s something else. And yet, with only 4 percent of the world’s population, we consume 20 percent of the world’s resources.

[00:26:48] So a common refrain you’ll hear from, particularly from environmentalists is, for everyone to live as Americans, we would need to have five planet Earths. That’s an interesting assertion, except if you remember that the US produces far more than 20 percent of the world’s wealth. We produce actually 26 percent of everything made in the world.

[00:27:08] So we actually are productive. So, if you take a zero, so some view of the world. There’s only a fixed pie. There’s only one big blue marble, and the more we use, the less we have. You can look at it in a different way, as we’ve figured out how to use the same big blue marble and do it and create things in more creative ways, more beneficial ways.

[00:27:26] I had a show, one of my favorites was with Marion Toopey. He characterizes this ability to make more and more with less and less resources as super abundance. The more we consume, the more our ability to consume increases. rather than running out of resources. The more we use, the more resources we create for ourselves.

[00:27:44] We can also see this intention, between, race or ethnic groups where, given that there’s a difference in total wealth between groups, and I don’t like to identify groups, but given the zero-sum thinking, if one group has more average wealth than another group, it’s clear that to the zero-sum thinker.

[00:28:03] That, the wealthy group has exploited or appropriated the wealth of the less wealthy group. Of course, provided we’re all living in a free market environment, let’s hope, those kinds of imbalances or inequality over time, level themselves out. How does zero sum thinking infect the reasoning on the right?

[00:28:24] There’s two major areas that I can identify as being based on zero sum thinking. One of them is free trade. It’s very intuitive to an average person who doesn’t study policy that it seems that, things like, trade deficit, whereby we trade U.S. dollars for foreign goods, that is, we buy foreign cars or washer dryers or, whatever, and what we get is stuff and what they get is dollars and the reasoning goes if we keep sending our dollars and they keep sending us their stuff, eventually we’ll be broke and they’ll be rich.

[00:28:56] That’s zero-sum thinking, which is to say, what is going on there? What we’re doing is producing wealth and for that we’re given dollars and we’re trading it for things we value more than the dollars we pay for it. We would only buy a 20, 000 truck if we think, for us, the value of that truck is 25, 000.

[00:29:16] In, cheaper imports. provide value to American consumers. We get more in value than we pay in dollars. Now, one can easily say that, that’s fine, Joe, but wouldn’t it be better if that truck were made in the U.S.? If it were, it might arguably cost more. If it didn’t cost more, then it would be made in the U.

[00:29:35] S., but because it’s made in the U.S., it would, let’s stipulate, it would cost more. that would provide. less value to American consumers. You say, it provides more value to American producers, but those producers are producing a product that could be more readily and cheaply produced elsewhere.

[00:29:51] That’s inappropriate. They should be producing things that are best produced here. And presumably, if they’re best produced here, rather than best produced elsewhere, they can make a American wage rather than a non-American wage, which is presumably higher. We make More expensive stuff, more complex stuff, more useful stuff, more expensive stuff than the rest of the world.

[00:30:11] We should be producing expensive stuff and buying, with dollars, cheap stuff. So, zero sum thinking is, pervades free trade, which again, free trade is a sort of an extension of free markets. And the other area, and I’d say this is probably as controversial as free trade, which is immigration. Now, it’s easy to apply, zero sum thinking to immigration.

[00:30:33] We imagine there’s a fixed amount of wealth, but also a fixed number of jobs and resources, right? So, we imagine we’ve got 330 million Americans happily working. It’s not a huge leap intellectually to say, if we add another million, to the existing number of jobs, we’ve got a million people forced out of their jobs.

[00:30:53] Presumably a new immigrant willing to. trade his labor for less than an American will, thereby displacing the American. But of course, if we believe in free markets, and we believe in the ingenuity and productivity of the average person, if we believe in ourselves, if we believe over the course of our lives, we produce more than we consume, I hope we do, then why shouldn’t the same math apply to a new immigrant?

[00:31:16] A new legal immigrant, of course, but that new legal immigrant, of course, brings with them abilities to work, but also, they become instant consumers, which is that everything they eat or wear or drive is produced, in the economy as well. So, they become producers and consumers, and the net effect should be a positive one.

[00:31:34] This isn’t, advocating open borders, but rather at least acknowledging the value of immigration and to say that, to, to argue against any immigration or reduced immigration is really to adopt a zero-sum view that new residents would require us to carve up our fixed pie into more pieces. That’s not, I think, sound reasoning, and it really, again, if you take out the idea of a, zero sum thinking, and really analyze it, it is troubling, there you have it. There’s my big idea. There have been studies that analyze zero sum thinking. And I will say, it does not fall down, directly along partisan lines. There’s plenty of zero sum thinking on the left, plenty of zero sum thinking on the right, and frankly, it’s all bad. So, I’ll offer that insight, and maybe it’ll stick with you, maybe it won’t.

[00:32:27] Maybe you, write me an email and tell me why zero something is actually the right way to go, and that if we don’t stop trading, we’re all going to be broke. I’m willing to be, persuaded. that’s my, segue to the final step in this podcast, this solo podcast, which is much harder than I thought it would be, is to thank you for being a listener and for sticking with the podcast this episode and others in the past, and to invite you to tell me whether this format was interesting for you.

[00:32:56] I’d love to hear from you. I may wait another 200 episodes and have another solo podcast on the 400th episode. We’ll see. But I invite you to reach out to me. My email is please shoot me an email, give me suggestions about future topic, episode topics, and also provide feedback. Let me know which episodes in the past you’ve enjoyed and which ones you’d like to hear more from. So, with that, I’ll say thank you for listening. I will please, I’ll ask that you please join me next week for a new episode of Hubwonk.

Hubwonk’s Joe Selvaggi marks episode 200 with a solo podcast that offers some backstory of his journey to becoming a host and offers some insights learned from more than 4 years of interviews.


Joe Selvaggi is a U.S. Navy veteran, entrepreneur, investment professional, former candidate for U.S. Congress, and political commentator. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School. He lives in Boston.