Another Road

The Blue elites are wrong:

It is easy to see how rational people can conclude that the only hope of preserving mass prosperity in America comes from transfers and subsidies. If we add to this the belief that only a powerful and intrusive regulatory state can prevent destructive climate change, then the case for the blue utopia looks ironclad. To save the planet, save the middle class and provide American minorities and single mothers with the basic elements of an acceptable life, we must set up a far more powerful federal government than we have ever known, and give it sweeping powers over the production and distribution of wealth.

But what if this isn’t true? What if the shift from a late-stage industrial economy to an information economy has a different social effect? What if the information revolution continues and even accelerates the democratization of political, social and cultural life by empowering ordinary people? What if the information revolution, like the industrial revolution, ultimately leads to a radical improvement in the way ordinary people live and opens up vast new horizons of human potential and freedom?

Obviously nobody knows what the future holds, and anything anybody says about the social consequences of the information revolution is mostly conjecture; still, the elegantly paternalistic pessimism of our elites about the future of the masses seems both defeatist and overdone. The information revolution, one should never forget, may be disruptive but more fundamentally it is good news. Human productivity is rising dramatically. If the bad news is that fewer and fewer people will earn a living working in factories, the good news is that a smaller and smaller percentage of the time and energy of the human race must be devoted to the manufacture of the material objects we need for daily life. Just as it’s good news overall when agricultural productivity increases and the majority of the human race no longer has to spend its time providing food, it’s good news when we as a species can free ourselves from the drudgery and monotony of factory work.

Good news is bad news for people who don’t like (other people to have) freedom. They need a crisis to not waste.

3 thoughts on “Another Road

  1. Old Guy in Whittier

    I can think of just two major factors in the rise and continuance of general prosperity that has actually worked in practice: recognition of innate individual liberty which has limits on government power as a direct consequence (one of the fundamental tenets of the philosophy underpinning Western civilization); and, access to cheap abundant energy sources. A lot of other things seem to be needed, too, but we have many examples of how a people have overcome them – apparent scarcity of some resource leads a peoples’ economy down a different path (see Japan), but it can be overcome by individual ingenuity.

    Energy, however, at a general level, seems to be a fundamental requirement. And, our current government has absolutely no clue whatsoever about this.

    If they think that the world is dirtier due to usage of petroleum products, they haven’t done their homework – 10,000 people died annually of cholera from horse droppings at the turn of the 20th century in New York City alone. Far fewer people are affected by air pollution a bit over a hundred years later.

    So, if they’ll stop interfering, we’ll have enough energy to see us through until the private sector once again provides a successor energy source, probably fusion.

    And, for the “greenies” wishing a return to an earlier world, horse droppings, I might add, didn’t really appear “green”, as I recall.

    We have largely escaped a world in which the vast majority of the population lived their entire lives in misery and squalor. They seem to like the idea of returning to it.

  2. Eric Weder

    Just re-watching the Star Wars movies. It appears Chancellor Palpatine is alive and well in D.C. Funny how the Dems can’t see this one coming.

  3. Karl Hallowell

    For me, one simple observation explains so much of what we’ve experienced in the past fifty years: labor globalization, the hooking up of the US economy to a world with five to six billion potential workers currently, most who are willing to work for far less than US workers are. Social policies are in that light either attempts to hold back the tide through decree (here, attempting to get more wages and such without doing anything to make labor more valuable) or stealing wealth from those who fared well under the current situation (anyone whose wealth isn’t wholly dependent on their own labor).

    I think it would have been better in the 70s, if the US had collectively recognized that work simply wasn’t going to get paid as well as it used to be and adjusted expectations and wages down then, rather than twist on the hook for a few decades, squandering the wealth and opportunity of this country merely to reach the same outcome, but in a far more destructive way.

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