George Gilder

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George Gilder
George Gilder handwaving at CHM Apr 2005.jpg
Born (1939-11-29) November 29, 1939 (age 74)
New York City
Education Phillips Exeter Academy
Harvard University
Occupation

author, editor in chief Gilder Technology Report
Chairman, Gilder Publishing LLC

Senior Fellow Discovery Institute

George F. Gilder (born November 29, 1939) is an American investor, writer, economist, techno-utopian advocate, Republican Party activist, and co-founder of the Discovery Institute. His 1981 international bestseller Wealth and Poverty advanced a practical and moral case for supply-side economics and capitalism during the early months of the Reagan Administration and made him President Reagan's most quoted living author.[1] In 2013 he published Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It is Revolutionizing Our World, which reformulated economics in terms of the information theory of Alan Turing and Claude Shannon. Married to Nini Gilder, he has four children.

In the 1970s Gilder established himself as a critic of feminism and government welfare policies, arguing that they eroded the "sexual constitution" that civilized and socialized men in the roles of fathers and providers. In the 1990s he became an enthusiastic evangelist of technology and the Internet through several books and his newsletter the Gilder Technology Report. He's also known as the chairman of George Gilder Fund Management, LLC.

Early years[edit]

Gilder was born in New York City and raised in New York and Massachusetts. His father Richard Gilder was killed flying in the Army Air Force in World War II when Gilder was three. He spent most of his childhood with his mother and his stepfather Gilder Palmer on a dairy farm in Tyringham, Massachusetts. David Rockefeller, a college roommate of his father, was deeply involved with his upbringing.[1]

Education[edit]

Gilder attended Hamilton School in New York City, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Harvard University, graduating in 1962.[2] He later returned to Harvard as a fellow at the Kennedy Institute of Politics, and edited the Ripon Forum, the newspaper of a liberal Republican Ripon Society.

United States Marine Corps[edit]

Gilder served in the United States Marine Corps.[3]

Career[edit]

Speechwriting[edit]

In the 1960s Gilder served as a speechwriter for several prominent officials and candidates, including Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, and Richard Nixon. He worked as a spokesman for the liberal Republican Senator Charles Mathias as anti-war protesters surrounded the capital, some eventually scaring Gilder out of his apartment. Gilder moved to Harvard Square the following year and became a writer, modeling himself after Joan Didion.

With his college roommate Bruce Chapman, he wrote an attack on the anti-intellectual policies of the 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater titled The Party That Lost Its Head (1966). He later recanted this attack, noting: "The far Right – the same men I dismissed as extremists in my youth – turned out to know far more than I did. At least the 'right-wing extremists,' as I confidently called them, were right on almost every major policy issue from welfare to Vietnam to Keynesian economics and defense – while I, in my Neo-Conservative sophistication, was nearly always wrong."[4]

Supply-side economics[edit]

Supply-side economics was formulated in the mid-1970s by Jude Wanniski and Robert L. Bartley at the Wall Street Journal as a counterweight to the reigning "demand-side" Keynesian economics. At the center of the concept was the Laffer Curve, the idea that high tax rates reduce government revenue. The opponents of supply-side economics often refer to it as "trickle-down economics."

Inspired by Wanniski and by the works of free-market economists like Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek and novelist Ayn Rand,[5] Gilder wrote a book extending the ideas of his Visible Man (1978) into the realm of economics, to balance his theory of poverty with a theory of wealth.[6] The book, published as the best-selling Wealth and Poverty in 1981, communicated the ideas of supply-side economics to a wide audience in the United States and the world.[7]

Gilder also contributed to the development of supply-side economics when he served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, as Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and as a frequent contributor to Arthur Laffer's economic reports and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.[8]

Technology[edit]

The first mention of the word "Digerati" on USENET occurred in 1992, and referred to an article by George Gilder in Upside magazine. His other books include Life After Television, a 1990 book that predicted microchip "telecomputers" connected by fiberoptic cable would make broadcast-model television obsolete. The book was also notable for being published by the Federal Express company and featuring full-page advertisements for that company on every fifth page.[9]

Gilder wrote the books Microcosm, about Carver Mead and the CMOS microchip revolution; Telecosm, about the promise of fiber optics; and his latest, The Silicon Eye, about the Foveon X3 sensor, a digital camera imager chip. The book cover of the Silicon Eye reads, "How a Silicon Valley Company Aims to Make All Current Computers, Cameras, and Cell Phones Obsolete" - The Foveon sensor has not achieved this goal and has not yet been used in cell phones.

On women and feminism[edit]

Gilder states that men are superior to women in the workplace and in creative ventures outside the home, due to inborn, biologically determined differences between men and women.

...men are inferior sexually...but they are superior in the workplace and in the great creative ventures outside the family circle. This has been true throughout human history and always will be true. The denial of it is perverse and destructive because men do have an absolutely central role in society that is commensurate with, yet different from, the familial role of women.[10]

Gilder also describes women as "a very physiological consciousness," and asserts that women—due to inborn, biologically determined differences from men—must give up "choice" or else the family will be destroyed. Referring to women, Gilder asserted in 1994:

Her sexuality determines her long term goals. As a very physiological consciousness, she knows she can bear and nurture children. She has a central role in the very perpetuation of the species...The Women's Movement tragically reduces female sexuality to the terms of male sexuality. When this happens, she reduces herself to the male level of recreational sex. Paradoxically, when that happens the woman loses all her power over men and the reverence and respect toward the procreative potential of woman is lost. And that really destroys the family. But if the power of "choice" is given up, the woman actually ascends to a higher level of sexuality and her body attains an almost mystical power over men.[10]

In the early 1970s Gilder wrote an article in the Ripon Forum defending President Richard Nixon's veto of a day-care bill sponsored by Senator Walter Mondale (D-MN) and Senator Jacob Javits (R-NY). He was promptly fired as editor of the Forum.[11]

Gilder enjoyed the controversy, appearing on Firing Line to defend himself and discovered he'd found "a way to arouse the passionate interest of women ... it was clear I had reached pay dirt." He decided to make himself into "America's number-one antifeminist".[12]

Gilder moved to New Orleans and worked in the mornings for Ben C. Toledano, Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1972 and the party's nominee for mayor of New Orleans in 1970. The rest of the time he wrote Sexual Suicide (1973), revised and reissued as Men and Marriage (1986). He argued that welfare and feminism broke the "sexual constitution" that had weaned men off their predatory instinct for sex, war, and the hunt and had subordinated them to women as fathers and providers. The book achieved a succès de scandale and Time made Gilder "Male Chauvinist Pig of the Year".[11]

He also stated that divorce "does spread poverty, and bitterness, and feminism, and other problems."[10]

Race and welfare[edit]

Gilder also wrote Visible Man: A True Story of Post-Racist America (1978, reissued in 1995), which The New York Times described in 1981 as "the account of a talented young black spoiled by the too-ready indolence of America's welfare system."[13]

On "corruption" and "suicide" of Native American and African cultures[edit]

Gilder has asserted that the culture of Native Americans was "corrupt and unsuccessful", and consequently Native American culture "failed". He describes both African and Native American cultures as "destructive cultures", "tragic failures" and "virtual social suicide", and upholding Native American or African cultures is a "terrible perversion."

Indian culture didn’t fail because it was virtuous. It failed because it was a corrupt and unsuccessful culture. These tribal cultures they [multiculturalists] are trying to import from Africa are tragic failures, too. To uphold these destructive cultures that have been virtual social suicide for the people who live in them is a terrible perversion.[10]

On Christianity, Satanism, and secular education[edit]

Gilder has stated:

Religion is primary. Unless a culture is aspiring toward the good, the true, and the beautiful, and wants the good and the true, really worships God, it readily worships Satan. If we turn away from God, our culture becomes dominated by "Real Crime Stories" and rap music and other spew... When the culture becomes corrupt, then the businesses that serve the culture also become corrupt... Secular culture is in general corrupt, and degraded, and depraved. Because I don’t believe in secular culture, I think parochial schools are the only real schools.[10]

Immigration[edit]

Gilder has praised mass immigration as an economic boom for America and Israel. Although Gilder's support for mass immigration is admittedly framed by high tech hubs such as Silicon Valley's need for computer programmers, he sees recent American immigration policy as being vital to American prosperity overall going so far as to write in the Wall Street Journal that,

Without immigration over the last 50 years, I would estimate that U.S. real living standards would be at least 40% lower.[14]

Steve Sailer, a fan of Gilder's books on feminism and race, in an 2002 column wrote that this "guess about the net aggregate benefits of immigration to native-born Americans was not only offered without any support evidence whatever, but it actually contradicts a significant economic literature that finds the benefits to be nugatory." Despite Gilder's defense of mass immigration in the Wall Street Journal, it is unclear whether or not Gilder would object to cuts in low-skilled, mostly third world immigration to the United States as emphasized by skeptics of recent American immigration policies such as Pat Buchanan. Former National Review and Forbes writer and VDARE.com founder, Peter Brimelow wrote in 2002,

...Gilder is a nice man – and in person he was curiously undogmatic about immigration. He just hadn't thought about it much. All he wanted, he told an investment conference I was moderating in mid-2000, was an assured supply of cheap computer programmers – other than that, he didn't care. And he thought all immigrants ought to be able to speak English. At this last remark, the entire audience of fat cats, obviously uneasy about our argument, burst into loud applause.[15]

The American Spectator[edit]

Gilder bought the conservative political monthly magazine The American Spectator from its founder, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., in the summer of 2000, switching the magazine's focus from politics to technology.[16]

Experiencing his own financial problems in 2002,[17] Gilder sold the Spectator back to Tyrrell.[18]

Regular contributor[edit]

He makes regular contributions to Forbes as a contributing editor. He also contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Wired and National Review.

Speaking engagements[edit]

For nearly thirty years, George Gilder has lectured internationally on economics, technology, education, and social theory. He has addressed audiences from Washington DC to the Vatican, and has appeared at numerous conferences, public policy events, and media outlets. Demonstrating his interest in the future of innovation-driven education models, in 2009 Gilder delivered the opening keynote address at the annual EduComm Conference, a nationwide gathering of higher education leaders pursuing breakthrough technologies with the potential to transform the college experience. His annual Telecosm Conference, which he hosts with Steve Forbes, draws technology leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, and inventors from across the globe. Today his lectures often concern his 2009 book The Israel Test, which deals with the relationship between entrepreneurship, innovation, and geo-political stability.[citation needed]

Wealth and poverty[edit]

After completing Visible Man in the late 1970s Gilder began writing "The Pursuit of Poverty." In early 1981 Basic Books published the result as Wealth and Poverty. It was an analysis of the roots of economic growth. Reviewing it within a month of the inauguration of the Reagan Administration the New York Times reviewer called it "A Guide to Capitalism". It offered, he wrote, "a creed for capitalism worthy of intelligent people."[19] The book was a New York Times bestseller[20] and eventually sold over a million copies.[21]

In Wealth and Poverty Gilder extended the sociological and anthropological analysis of his early books in which he had advocated for the socialization of men into service to women through work and marriage. He wove these sociological themes into the economic policy prescriptions of supply-side economics. The breakup of the nuclear family and the policies of demand-side economics led to poverty. Family and supply-side policies led to wealth.

In reviewing the problems of the immediate past—the inflation, recession, and urban problems of the 1970s—and proposing his supply-side solutions, Gilder argued not just the practical but the moral superiority of supply-side capitalism over the alternatives. "Capitalism begins with giving," he asserted, while New Deal liberalism created moral hazard. It was work, family, and faith that created wealth out of poverty. "It is this supply-side moral vision that underlies all the economic arguments of Wealth and Poverty," he wrote.[22]

In 1994 Gilder asserted that America has no poverty problem, that the real problem is the "moral decay" of the "so-called poor", and that their real need is "Christian teaching from the churches." He calls the poor in America "the so-called poor" who have been "ruined by the overflow of American prosperity", and asserts they have more purchasing power than the middle class in Japan in the 1990s.

What the poor really need is morals...The official poor in America have higher incomes and purchasing power than the middle class in the United States in 1955 or the middle class in Japan today. The so-called "poor" are ruined by the overflow of American prosperity. What they need is Christian teaching from the churches...The poverty line in a rich country like the United States is a meaningless standard. We have no poverty problem strictly speaking, we have a desperate problem of family breakdown and moral decay.[10]

The Israel Test[edit]

Gilder's 2009 book The Israel Test is partly described as follows:

Gilder reveals Israel as a leader of human civilization, technological progress, and scientific advance. Tiny Israel stands behind only the United States in its contributions to the hi-tech economy. Israel has become the world's paramount example of the blessings of freedom.—Amazon book description.

Founder of neoconservatism Irving Kristol says about the book: "Everyone talks about 'free enterprise' but no one understands the entrepreneurial basis of economic growth better than George Gilder." While conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh says: "My friends, it would behoove you to study everything you can get your hands on by George Gilder, a true American genius."[23]

In an interview for National Review, Gilder says the book is about "the cosmic law between success and envy". He further states Israel's role as the following:

Western civilization, in part, originated in Israel. Now Israel is a crucial source of invention, military intelligence, and entrepreneurial creativity that may yet save the West. I believe Netanyahu is a Churchillian figure emerging at the perfect time to confront the Jihad.—George Gilder, National Review interview July 2009: "Choosing the Chosen People – Anti-Semitism is essentially hatred of capitalism and excellence."[24]

Intelligent design[edit]

He helped found the Discovery Institute with Bruce Chapman. The organization started as a moderate group which aimed to privatize and modernize Seattle's transit systems[citation needed] but it later became the leading think tank of the intelligent design movement, with Gilder writing many articles in favor of ID and opposing the theory of evolution.[25] He, like others at the institute, denies that the Shannon information measure alone provides a good measure for biological information, because that measure ignores the actual function or meaning in the code. Gilder contends that Shannon information theory actually shows that evolution cannot be explained by unintelligent physical causes, because it focuses on "the medium, not the message".[26]

Bibliography (partial)[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b MacFarquhar, Larissa (May 29, 2000), The Gilder Effect 
  2. ^ Ibid.
  3. ^ Gilder anecdotally writes about his time in the Marine Corps in this Forbes article.
  4. ^ Gilder, George (March 5, 1982), Why I am Not a Neo-Conservative, National Review 34 (4): 219–220 
  5. ^ Chait, Jonathan (September 14, 2009) Wealthcare, The New Republic
  6. ^ Gilder, George (1993), Wealth and Poverty, ICS Press, pp. xi, ISBN 1-55815-240-7 
  7. ^ Gilder, ibid., p.xv
  8. ^ Discovery institute biography
  9. ^ David Foster Wallace, "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction", Review of Contemporary Fiction, 185
  10. ^ a b c d e f Gilder, George (March–April 1994), Freedom from Welfare Dependency, Religion & Liberty 
  11. ^ a b MacFarquhar, ibid.
  12. ^ Faludi, Susan (1991), Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, Crown, p. 285, ISBN 0-517-57698-8 
  13. ^ Roger Starr: A Guide To Capitalism. The New York Times, February 1, 1981. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D03E7D8123BF932A35751C0A967948260
  14. ^ Gilder, George (December 18, 1995), Geniuses from Abroad, Wall Street Journal 
  15. ^ Steve, Sailer (August 22, 2002), Technology, Immigration: The Gilder Bubble Bursts, VDARE.com 
  16. ^ York, Byron (November 2001), The Life and Death of the American Spectator, The Atlantic Monthly 
  17. ^ Prince, Marcello (May 8, 2006), Where Are They Now: George Gilder, The Wall Street Journal 
  18. ^ Kurtz, Howard (June 10, 2002). "The News That Didn't Fit To Print". The Washington Post. 
  19. ^ Starr, Roger (February 1, 1981), A Guide to Capitalism, The New York Times 
  20. ^ Adult New York Times Best Seller List for April 12, 1981
  21. ^ Faludi, ibid., p. 289
  22. ^ Gilder, ibid, p.xxii
  23. ^ "Amazon.com: The Israel Test". 
  24. ^ "Choosing the Chosen People – Anti-Semitism is essentially hatred of capitalism and excellence". National Review. July 30, 2009. 
  25. ^ Chris C. Mooney, "Inferior Design", The American Prospect, September 2005, excerpt from The Republican War on Science (2005)
  26. ^ George Gilder, "Evolution and Me" National Review, July 17, 2006

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]