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November 08, 2008


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Alan Engelstad

What came to mind is that by legitimizing the aspirations of so many people, in practice not just policy, we may be witnessing the release of social capital that has been locked up in racism and other social constraints till now.

I'm sure you notice this is analogous to Hernando de Soto's idea that what holds so many down in developing countries is the practical inability to register their homes as property, mainly due to poorly designed systems of property registration that require, for example, 120 steps and a few years to register property. Consequently, most houses, though bought and sold, aren't registered. No bank will lend money against an unregistered property. De Soto calls it "dead capital" and it is worth staggering amounts of money in each country. Legitimizing dead capital, by registering it, makes it useable to leverage enterprise and innovation. I've often thought that Canada, for instance, which has an excellent system for property registration, could take this as its primary means of providing structural economic aid. I've also thought, truth be told, that it would be a rather frightening beast to unleash, from an environmental and geopolitical point of view.

Just so, we've had staggering amounts of potential locked up and held back by inhibiting the aspirations of many people. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.


Craig Nassar

"There's a time and the time now and its right for me" Jon Anderson

The fact that the United States of America has spoken and we have elected a man of color is history and thats great. But the sense of pride and unity that I have seen since the election is awe inspiring.

Obama has a tough road ahead and things will not change overnight as he said in his acceptance speech. I hope that this sense of pride and accomplishment that our country is going through will sustain. Americans are notorius for instint gratification. We need to ride this out and stand behind a man whom I believe can get us back to where we need to be as a country and beyond. I believe the possibilities are endless. We need to stay the coarse.

We as a people need to as Eric said (paraphrase) be propelled by the earnest application of our minds and hearts and the purposeful determination to succeed.

Will we do this? I believe we can. But again we need to stay the coarse.


Perhaps it's my imagination, but I've observed many African Americans walking with a new spring in their step, a renewed sense of power and pride...And then I realize how that same exuberance is exhibited by many others: Hispanics, young people, and, indeed, people (Caucasian) like me! The change, the hope, the commitment is palpable. For the first time, it seems as if race, ehtnicity, and gender (although sadly, not yet sexual orientation) finally enrich rather than divide. I have never seen or felt anything like it.

All three of my children voted--two for the first time--all for Obama (Thank goodness). But they voted--and that's what matters!

My friend is expecting her first granddaughter any day--she will be born into a world in which the promise that anyone can be president is more real than ever before.

Another friend and his wife, both from Europe, have now decided to become U.S. citizens.

It's a new world. But it's not just up to Obama to make it happen. It's up to us. And I, for one, cannot wait!

Brian Mulconrey

Eric, my reaction to the events of 11/4/2008 was to reflect on how proud I was of America that we were finally regaining our confidence. There will be plenty to be afraid of in the future but that isn’t how we as a people want to be defined in the world.

I hope you’re right about launching into a New Era of Imagination! Your essay reminded me that I need to get more active in promoting an annual writing competition that I helped create a few years ago at MIT called the Enterprise Poets Prize in Imagining A Future
This endowed prize invites graduate and under-graduate students to unleash their imaginations to invent a future enterprise and say a little bit about how we got there from here. The word “poets” is used in the spirit of Aristotle’s assertion in Poetics that – “It is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen what is possible according to the law of probability or necessity. The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose...The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen.”

If anyone reading this blog knows an MIT student or professor who might be interested in participating in the prize or promoting the prize, please send them the link.



I very much enjoyed your essay but was disappointed that there aren't many other recent posts to read. I hope you will continue to post frequently.
Thank you.

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