The View From 1776

Command Economies vs. Individual Creativity

Robert Curry reminds us of a simple fact, overwhelmingly demonstrated by historical experience: no single person or intellectual elite can possibly know enough to direct all economic activity creatively and efficiently.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/28 at 12:05 AM
  1. On Selective Migrations and Dysgenic Trends:

    This post correctly points out that it is the creativity of individuals acting in a free marketplace that power innovation and progress. Government itself can never take the vital role of the people that make all good things happen. I have written about "The Radzewicz Rule" which I coined to show that common people, given security, and little oppression, equals or results in economic freedom which then results in the most widespread affluence. (CM+S-O=EF). This is the same principle expressed in Julian Simon's "The Ultimate Resource," which shows how natural resources, harbors, forests, farm land, and climate are all subordinate assets, totally dependent on the constructive actions of the inhabitants--if they are allowed to act.

    And it is clear, as Curry writes, that almost
    all the people of a society must apply their common knowledge and varied aptitudes if a nation is to reap the extraordinary and robust results attained in America during the past few hundred years climb to world supremacy.

    The only remaining mystery about this formula for growth is whether all common people everywhere on earth are equally able, if given security and minimal oppression and regulation, to replicate the American miracle? After all, it appears that the character of a people and the institutions they employ have had a major impact on which societies advanced and which stagnated. My look at history's successes and laggards--see Laissez-Faire's book: "Common Genius"--indicates there are definite principles of government that made for success and their absence usually spelled failure for the nations involved.

    It is not a coincidence that the Greek-Judeo-Christian moral and humanist belief system gave a pro-active "attitude" to the settlers who came to the New World. And they had the sound legal and financial institutions developed in England and much or Europe that laid the foundation for a free economy supported by established private property rights.

    But given those same empowering institutions, would all people of the earth be able to do what our ancestors did? I have addressed that question in "Wasted Genius," an analysis of what makes individuals fully competent. It represents a critique of our high regard for lofty IQ's and college grades, indicating that there are many other essential qualities that make up a competent adult. And there is strong evidence that all peoples on earth share those attributes.

    Throughout the world, it appears that all people, races, and ethnic groups possess at birth, approximately the same potential. For example, Colin Renfrew writes in "Prehistory" that "modern molecular genetics suggests that apart from the normal range present in all populations in matters such as IQ, all humans are born equal." So does that mean that the American success story can be transplanted anywhere and succeed equally well?

    My conclusion is that it all comes back to the attitude and unique capabilities of the people in question. It is hard for Islamic people, with no separation of the State from the Church, to use their potentially inquisitive minds to explore new possibilities. Any over-riding philosophy that suggests a passive or resigned state of mind as in the great Eastern oriental faiths will surely hamstring new ideas and bold innovation.

    Thus, the universality of the American success is dependent on an open mind, and an atmosphere encouraging free inquiry and open debate. This factor is covered in the Radzewicz Rule under the need for minimal "Oppression" of both the mind and body. A governing manner that closes the mind is just as devastating as one that imprisons your body or property. But there are entrepreneurs in many nations so why can't they create a Microsoft or Google?

    The answer to that question may explain the uniqueness of America's success, and it resides in the varied composition of the world's populations. We have said that all populations, all races, are equally able on average. But the original Americans were not necessarily average--nor were they a random cross section of humanity. The settlers who came to this new World abandoned their homes and nations, sailed a dangerous voyage to get here, and faced a wilderness, all to gain liberty and land and opportunity. They came from disparate races, frweligions, and etnic groups, but they all had one similarity.

    What kinds of people were they? They left behind most of the intellectual elite, the aristocracies, and the wealthiest Europeans. They were the artisans, the outcasts, opportunists, and the practical minded folk. They had a maximum of the intellectual qualities other than IQ which makes a person truly competent, self-reliant, and innovative. Is it possible that the migration to America was made up of an above average class of beings? That those who chose to come had more of the non-IQ strengths than those who remained behind.

    That "self-selection by migration" indicates the uniqueness of our early settlers and is the idea behind my acronym "TCQ," a measurement of a person's "total Competency Quotient." Recent discoveries of how the brain works indicates that such vital traits as self-restraint, patience, persistence, imagination, and mechanical aptitude, are all just as brain-based as IQ characteristics and equally or more important in determining who succeeds and who doesn't. Those who came to America must have had an above average amount of those important qualities.

    Many of these latest neurological studies also point to a regression of our average intelligence and a dysgenic trend in America. Thus, it may be that while the population here in the 17th-19th century were self-selected for high levels of initiative and enterprise, each new generation has less of those qualities. That possibility, suggested by the disparate birth rates of today, the prevalence of illegitimacy, the expansion of welfare rolls, and creeping corruption in the highest places, could explain the Decline of America.
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