Last evening at Columbia College Dan Loeb, among others, was given the John Jay Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement. In his speech, the Third Point founder spoke of happy times, like his days at Columbia, spent taking economics classes and reading the texts of Don Quixote, Epictetus, King Lear and Candide, and his nights spent conversing with friends “about girls or dreams or aspirations but often about those very great books or art, which we all internalized and helped for the fabric of who we are today.” He spoke of transformative times, like when fellow Columbia grad John Jay helped get slaves emancipated in New York. And he spoke of dark times, like the ones we’re currently living through. Which, while harrowing, do lend themselves quite nicely to verse. Sayeth Loeb:
When I was in College I liked this Elvis Costello song, “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?” I think today we need a new song, “What’s So Funny About Individual Freedom, Free Enterprise and Accountability?” In fact, I might add what’s so funny about celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great? This entrepreneurial spirit is applicable not only to business but also to the arts and to humanitarian efforts, as is evident by my fellow awardees tonight like Filmmaker Dede Gardner, Venture Philanthropist Ellen Gustafson, Venture Capitalist Ben Horowitz, and Tiananmen Square dissident turned fund manager the great venture capitalist Li Lu.
I think this is still an aspirational country, but there are some people who think it is fashionable to denigrate success, while others try to stir up class warfare. I was surprised last fall to see an Economics Professor ensconced in an Occupy Wall Street mob decrying the 1%, attributing all the country’s problems to an issue of poor distribution of wealth and accusing the so-called 1% of being lazy. Certainly he did not speak for the University where he is tenured but for but an economics Professor to carry on like this – really? We have a problem when young people are taught that our country is fundamentally unfair and encouraged to see themselves as victims. It is even more upsetting when our leaders tell us that it is their role to make amends for these wrongs via increased and capricious regulation, excessive entitlements, ill-conceived subsidies and punitive prosecutions.
More can be found here. If you care about freedom and fighting the power, you’ll take a look.