Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hmm …

RealClearMarkets - The Inexorable March of Creative Destruction.

 Today's primary political and cultural conflict is, [Virginia] Postrel says, between people, mislabeled "progressives," who crave social stasis, and those, paradoxically called conservatives, who welcome the perpetual churning of society by dynamism.

Stasists see Borders succumb to e-books (and Amazon) and lament the passing of familiar things. Dynamists say: Relax, reading is thriving. In 2001, the iPod appeared, and soon stores such as Tower Records disappeared. Who misses them?

But I am sure all those stasists are devout believers in evolution by means of natural selection, which is a an ex example of order emerging from apparent chaos.

P.S. Many years ago I copyedited a book by Stanley I. Kutler called Privilege and Creative Destruction: The Charles River Bridge Case. I'd like to say I made some contribution to it, but the fact is it was the cleanest manuscript I ever saw. It is an excellent book and highly recommended.


  1. "...Sam Walton had an idea for bigger stores on the outskirts of towns. Sears had become a casualty of Wal-Mart's retailing revolution."
    Maybe, but I think it was the Interstate Highway System that killed the downtown businesses and made it necessary to go to 'the outskirts.'
    Creative Destruction is a buzz phrase now and being linked to right-left antagonisms of the political realm instead of staying in the economic world. Besides, if government is the bad agent why do stores and sport teams build only where governments will susidize them through lower tax rates, funding their building programs, or forgiveness of permit fees, etc?

  2. Because stores and sports teams, like many others, like to get their hands on other people's money. Kutler's book will show you how this came about. Very few people know about the Charles River Bridge Case, but everyone should know about it. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts built a bridge immediately adjacent to a privately owned bridge over the Charles River from Boston to Cambridge. It cost a penny to cross the private bridge, nothing to cross the state bridge. The private bridge people sued the state. The case went to the Supreme Court, which saw for the state. Justice Joseph Story wrote a famous dissent. However, heres the rub: Practically all of the proceeds from the private bridge went to the Widow and Orphans Fund of Boston. Had the decision gone the other way, that fund today — and others like ti — would likely be immense, and the need for public welfare funded by the state much diminished if needed at all. The idea that the government is the only or best recourse to the solution of social problems is a dubious one, to say the least.