Beyond the Build

Leadership

If It Can’t Go on Forever…

Herbert Stein was an economist who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He was also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributor to the WSJ. Herb was father to comedian Ben Stein, so he must have had an interesting perspective.

He is credited with a phrase commonly referred to as “Stein’s Law.” Since his death, it has been quoted several different ways, but this is the original:

“If it can’t go on forever, it will stop.” 

While this original quote was centered around economics and politics, a paraphrase applicable to our current state might be something like:

“Things that can’t go on forever don’t.” 

It’s a useful reminder that I’ve circled back to a number of times in the last few weeks.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.