January 9th, 2012 | University

Soundbites: Larry Summers edition

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Photo by Joyce Xi.

The Yale Political Union hosted Lawrence Summers, former Harvard president, Treasury Secretary and director of the National Economic Council for a debate on economics titled “RESOLVED: The U.S and world economies need more Keynesian thinking.” Below are some of Summers’ more quotable moments:

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to speak to the political union of the nation’s second best university.

John Kennedy said man’s problems were made by man, and that it follows that they can be solved by man. No one knows how to find a cure for cancer, find peace in the Middle East, find a formula for controlling greenhouse emissions or what to do about rising inequality. These are all very deep and hard problems. But does anybody think that we cannot find ways to spend money and put people back to work in the U.S.?

Are people quitting jobs? No. People are staying in jobs at record rates, because they are having trouble moving elsewhere. What about job vacancies? They’re at record lows. That’s because we live in a country that has too little demand. Some people think this has to do with workers being lazy or being not properly motivated. But factories do not have psychological problems that cause them to want to be empty: they are sitting empty because there is no demand.

If we grow just 1 percent slower for the next 10 years, that adds 3 trillion dollars to the debt in 2020. That’s why there’s no more important problem facing this country than getting this economy growing again.

How many people have been to JFK? How many people are proud of the Kennedy airport as the gateway to America’s greatest city? Probably a member of the Tory party. Most who look at Kennedy airport say, “we can do better.”

In general, the U.S. would be well-served by more open immigration policies, especially in regards to skilled immigrants. I think that’s morally right and economically smart, and our country did a number of short-sighted things in the wake of 9/11.

  • ElizabethGrayHenry

    Just so you know, the person who raised his hand was sitting with the Independent Party and was *definitely* **not** “a member of the Tory party.” We Tories are in favor of all things beautiful–and that includes the beautification of JFK airport.

  • River_Tam

    Whoever said they’re proud of JFK airport has never actually been there.

    • jamesdakrn

      Still better than LAX.