Saturday, September 13, 2014

There is no John Galt - and that's worse

There is a destroyer loose who is shutting off the motor of the world, slowing the engine of creation, tapping out the extra power of invention.  But it is not one person whose name is a question.  What you tax you get less of; and what you subsidize you get more of.  The brightest people in the world are making video games; and no one is on the Moon.  It did not take a genius to figure this out: it is a universal law of human action.

No law, no regulation or ruling says what a computer is or who is qualified to program one.  In a lifetime, we have gone from no computers to over a billion of them.  The poorest people in the world have cellular telephones; and they trade online minutes as an ad hoc monetary medium.  It is truly wonderful, a perfect demonstration of the power of open markets.  When criminal hackers seek to violate your financial security, they do not need supercomputers chilled with liquid nitrogen: they use gaming computers whose powerful processors outstrip anything planned by university consortiums. 

However, to be a civil engineer or a mechanical engineer, you need to attend a government approved college, take a government licensing examination, serve an industry mandated apprenticeship, and, as a professional, buy a ton of liability insurance.  Since 1945, on the advice of MIT's Vannevar Bush, the government has actively subsidized as many research projects as we, the people, (and our grandchildren) could afford.  So, we have the same roads, the same railroads, the same internal combustion engines and steam turbines as we did 100 years ago.  They are, indeed, better, but not different.  The jet engine is 70 years old.  So is nuclear power.  We have nothing better.  

All work is an act of philosophy.  
They subsidized education, but never bothered to measure learning.  Torrents of federal money only bloated the administrations of universities without rewarding the faculties or incentivizing the students.  They subsidized healthcare, but never investigated life extension.  The medical monopoly pursues a cure for cancer like 19th century doctors fighting consumption caused by miasmas. 

We all get along somehow...  

And that allows the lawmakers, the regulators, and taxers, and tax-eaters to believe that their actions have no effect, no deleterious consequences. They believe that human action - and human inaction - is impervious to reality, that the physical laws of the universe do not apply to their decisions.  They see the tax-revenues coming in. They spend the money going out.  They never discover the unbroken window.

Frederic Bastiat's famous analogy of the broken window is a law of the universe. As best as we can imagine from science fiction, any sentient, self-aware, rational being must of necessity act and respond just as we have. There is no escape.  Every decision of the government must be an economic loss because the basis of that decision is for power not for profit.  Economic losses are not impersonal: they take the food off your table.  You do still have food, for the moment, but you do not know what you do not have because it was not invented or discovered.  

Not everyone wants to be a video game designer.
What do you do if you cannot do what you love? 

But if obeyed, nature can be commanded.  New sources of energy will power the extension of humanity into new frontiers. We know from historical evidence that new arts can be invented and new artists will flourish.  We could  live longer and smarter, and more prosperously. To achieve that in every endeavor, we must only do what we have done to create the video game industry: nothing.  Laissez nous faire.  Leave us alone.  

Previously on Necessary Facts
Atlas Shrugged Opening Show (2011)
Love, Loss, and Redemption in Atlas Shrugged
The Influence of Ayn Rand's Objectivism
Atlas Shrugged Part 3

1 comment:

  1. Great article. Love how you brought in the broken window analogy. I had not seen that done before but it is so true.