March 21, 2009

Don Boudreaux Says ‘Have Faith’ with a Basis (with a Faith-Based Add-on)

Properly understood, free-market capitalism works. Free-market capitalism has always worked when allowed to work. Free-market capitalism will work again, if we let it, but US and world leadership seem tragically bound and determined to thwart it.

Mark Levin read this powerful column by Don Boudreaux at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the air last night. It deserved the full airing it received.

Boudreaux brilliantly brings in historical context:

Imagine traveling back in time to 1809. You describe to some people you befriend the reality of personal transportation in America in 2009. You describe the automobile.

In your own mind, of course, you’re describing an ordinary contrivance that makes possible experiences that are perfectly ordinary to denizens of the early 21st century, such as zooming along at 70 mph. But to your early 19th-century listeners, you’re describing a barely imaginable wonder.

“What?!” they ask. “People in the future will drive machines made out of metal and filled with highly flammable liquids? Surely that will be intolerably dangerous. And to what purpose? No one has any need to travel at such unheard-of speeds!

….. I suspect that your friends in 1809 would not believe your account. And what I suspect they would find most unbelievable is not the progress of technology that automobiles require. Rather, what would be most difficult to comprehend is the fact that such an amazingly complex development and coordination of economic activities can occur without being consciously arranged. After all, it’s not just that people in 2009 can easily afford automobiles, but also that whole industries exist to support automobile driving.

Oil exploration and refining, tire manufacturing, steel production, auto-parts making and retailing, automobile insuring, road-building — these are only some of the many industries whose existence is promoted by, and whose existence promotes, automobile manufacturing. Yet no one designed, or even foresaw, this outcome. No one designed how all the many industries’ efforts are coordinated with each other. This outcome evolved into its modern-day pattern through billions upon billions of individual decisions, some bigger than others, but none larger than a tiny part of the total number of decisions that combined with each other to make automobile driving an unremarkable reality in the early 21st century.

Stupendous coordination of millions of individual plans and talents emerged spontaneously — and not only in the automobile industry. The entire economy is a testament to such spontaneous coordination.

The single greatest fact about capitalist society is that the great bulk of it appears to be the handiwork of a master designer but, in fact, is unplanned and even unimaginable before it becomes real and familiar.

Remember this lesson whenever you hear alleged “experts” insisting that only conscious effort by government to “stimulate” demand can save the economy from its current downturn.

Of course, read the whole thing.

Allow me to expand on the paragraph I bolded, and to disagree with Boudreaux on one point.

There is “handiwork of a master designer” involved. That designer is God.

The lack of belief that what has been proven to work before — what Boudreaux calls “spontaneous coordination” — won’t work again is rooted in a fundamental lack of belief in God, that the Master Designer will either fail us this time, or that He doesn’t exist in the first place.

Instead, the active and unprecedented (in the US) attempts to prevent the spontaneous coordination Boudreaux referred to from occurring reflect a fundamental belief that the self-appointed elites among us are gods — that somehow, the “best and the brightest” can manage the billions and billions of interactions and decisions involved in commerce and, ultimately, individual lives better than individuals can themselves. They can’t. It is utter folly to believe they can.

Sometimes, when the elites fail, as they always have, they get mad. Occasionally they get vengeful when they see that they can’t control things to their liking, or that those they attempt to control don’t buy into their supposedly self-evident wisdom; the tens of millions killed by the Soviet Union and Communist China in the 20th Century are a testament to that.

Those of us who have a belief in God know that, as long as the people in a society are guided by His moral and ethical principles (whether we as a nation remain that way is a subject for another time), His handiwork, working through us, will:

  • Show us, as is now happening before our eyes, how to conquer disease and illness without resorting to murder.
  • Prove that human progress is not a recipe for planetary destruction.
  • Over time, raise up the poorest among without resorting to outright theft from those who have.

Properly understood and carried out, free-market capitalism is faith-based free-market capitalism.

Faith-based free-market capitalism works. Faith-based free-market capitalism has always worked when allowed to work. Faith-based free-market capitalism will work again, if we let it, but US and world leadership seem tragically bound and determined to thwart it.

Positivity: Hero in wrong-way crash identified

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:11 am

From Toledo (video is at link):

Friday, March 20, 2009 | 7:20 PM

Toledo nurse and firefighter pulled two from a burning car

A Toledo firefighter and nurse is being hailed as a hero for his actions after the wrong-way crash in Cygnet.

It happened on Monday on I-75. The wrong-way driver died. But witnesses say one extraordinary man saved the lives of two others trapped in a burning car.

Ernie Gehrke works at Toledo fire station 25. He says he doesn’t consider his actions on Monday heroic. He says he instinctively did what he was trained to do.

Gehrke works two full-time jobs. He has been a Toledo firefighter for 20 years, a nurse for 17 years.

He was off-duty on Monday driving to Findlay when “I saw smoke coming from a car and the closer I got, I could see the wreckage and I pulled over and I could see that one of the cars was on fire.”

What happened next, witnesses say, displayed extraordinary courage. Since the doors were locked, Gehrke started kicking and punching at the windows of the car that was on fire with two people trapped inside.

A window was finally broken with a crow bar. Gehrke pulled the driver out of the car, but he couldn’t get the passenger out. So he climbed inside the burning car and sat with him until emergency crews arrived and were able to get him out. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.