Pushing hard for liberal education

Philanthropist Charlie Munger is a strong, lifelong supporter of liberal education requirements, which are a major characteristic of American colleges.

Charlie says you don’t need to be an expert in any of these fields. He believes that these introductory level courses of varied fields will help make you a well-rounded and successful generalist no matter what your choice of vocation is. That is because in all of these LER fields, the precious little elementary-level course exposes us to and teaches us a few simple yet powerful ideas of the respective fields.

Remember: Few. Simple. Yet powerful.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, two straight-talking, down-to-earth and honest-to-God Midwestern investors, are among the few top-performing investors in this country. Both of them believe that most people fail in investing because they have become more like specialists, and they are moving farther away from being generalists. In investing, it is necessary to be a well-rounded generalist. In a world full of “specialists,” who tend to carry professional baggage and tend to see things through a pair of tainted specialist glasses, Charlie says being a well-rounded generalist pays off handsomely.

True, we all know that to make ourselves marketable, we need to specialize. The purpose of this column is not to discourage you from pursuing specialization in your field of choice. The aim of this column is to let you know about the completely different mentality and intellectual preparation needed to invest well.

But, in a world that is getting more and more specialized, and due to intense competition in our field, there seems to less and less time to train ourselves to become a good generalist, for our investments’ sake.

Fear not. Charlie Munger has come to our rescue. He has “invented” what he calls the “Intellectual Framework.” And it is so simple, yet powerful, that you not only can start applying it right after you finish reading this column, you will, over time, be handsomely rewarded, too.

Everything that you are exposed to, whether it’s from the television, radio, Internet, newspapers or magazines, call it “BS!” and throw it out if you don’t think it makes sense at all. If it does, immediately add that piece of knowledge, information, insight or wisdom into your existing Intellectual Framework. If you can come across one single piece of such useful insight or wisdom per day, count yourself lucky. Though it may seem like not much on a single day, accumulated over the years, you will become one of the wisest human beings in your community.

This Intellectual Framework will help you see the world more clearly and help you better understand what is going on around you and around the world, and as a result, it will present you with a well-balanced, unbiased view of the world. Not many people in the investment world possess these, and those who do tend to do very well in their investments.

Michael J. Greenberg is a graduate student and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Editor’s note: Michael J. Greenberg is a pseudonym. He can be contacted through the editor at [email protected].