December 18, 2008


First, it was Michael Crichton's linking horse manure to predicting the next century.

Now it's Thomas Sowell:

For thousands of years, horses had been the way to go, whether in buggies or royal coaches, whether pulling trolleys in the cities or plows on the farms. People had bet their futures on something with a track record of reliable success going back many centuries.

Were all these people to be left high and dry? What about all the other people who supplied the things used with horses-- oats, saddles, horse shoes and buggies? Wouldn't they all go falling like dominoes when horses were replaced by cars?

Unfortunately for all the good people who had in good faith gone into all the various lines of work revolving around horses, there was no compassionate government to step in with a bailout or a stimulus package.

If there's a bad analogy involving horses at the turn of the century, I haven't heard it!

Posted by Sarah at December 18, 2008 08:51 AM | TrackBack

One problem with the horse analogy is that horses and buggies have become obsolete throughout the industrialized world, whereas American cars are not obsolete. The technological gap between American and non-American cars is not equivalent to the gap between a buggy and a horseless carriage.

But acknowledging those facts still would not justify a bailout. Obsolescence is not relevant; it's a distraction from the real issue.

Fast food restaurants are certainly not obsolete. Two neighboring shopping malls near me each have a restaurant belonging to the same chain, offering identical menu items at identical prices. Suppose one restaurant is successful and the other is ailing. Should the latter restaurant be allowed to go under, its employees "to be left high and dry?" People will protest that it's not fair that one of the twins is dying. They want cosmic justice.

But isn't failure itself a kind of justice? If the second restaurant is poorly run or in a bad location, does it deserve to be bailed out? Must others pay to shield it from the consequences of bad decisions?

As programs like these proliferate, people will grow up believing that there never will be a "day of reckoning," as Sowell put it. They tell themselves "reality is optional." They confuse the subjective with the objective. They conflate "I want" with "it is." They don't question the assumptions underlying their desires. They should follow Ayn Rand's advice and "check their premises." But they don't know how. And we all fund their ignorance with our tax dollars.

Idiocracy, here we come. Believing in electrolytes won't make crops grow.

Posted by: Amritas at December 18, 2008 12:47 PM