Leaders and Politicians and Geese

by Monty Pelerin
Monty Pelerin’s World

Milton Friedman once described the difference between leaders and politicians with a geese analogy. At the time, he was an advisor to then-unelected Ronald Reagan.

According to Friedman, politicians look at which way the geese are flying and then fly to the front of the flock. By flying in front, these phonies pretend to lead. Friedman argued Reagan was a true leader, meaning he would choose his own course. The geese, according to Friedman, would change course to follow Reagan.

The “leaders and politicians” analogy is useful in a number of contexts. It applies to the coronavirus crisis. Uncertainty and fear made it easy to drive people into seclusion and close everything down. Medical advice, which errs on the cautious side, reinforced this drive. The medical models and predictions were extraordinarily wrong and and scared everyone.

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