- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

‘Spontaneous orders’

“[Free-market economist Friedrich] Hayek … argued that you can’t easily improve on what he called ‘spontaneous orders.’

There are many situations in which an order has arisen by individuals following rules. They often can’t articulate why they follow the rules, some of them are moral rules, whatever, and this has led to a certain amount of coordination of people’s activity. To the extent that it’s done, that it’s allowed, groups that have followed those rules tend to prosper. That’s what he defined as ‘a spontaneous order.’ …

“To simply come in and say, ‘OK, this stuff all needs changing,’ ignores that social evolution has taken place through time. We can all see the problems that exist in various institutions, but it’s particularly dangerous when you try to make wholesale changes, rather than piecemeal ones, within social institutions to try to achieve better ends. …

“The way socialism was implemented in the 20th century is one of the pre-eminent examples of what goes wrong when you try to reconstruct society along more ‘rational’ lines.”

Bruce Caldwell, author of “Hayek’s Challenge,” interviewed by Nick Gillespie in the January issue of Reason

Stunning results

“Eight years ago Americans ended welfare as they knew it. To judge from their silence on the subject during the 2004 election, they have never looked back. Perhaps that is not surprising. The public always hated welfare, largely because it undercut so many bedrock American values — self-government, personal responsibility, up-from-the-bootstraps hard work. …

“As much as any politician, Bill Clinton understood that everyone … hated welfare. …

“Though he was opposed by most of his Cabinet and ended up alienating some of his closest friends, Clinton signed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) into law in August 1996. …

“The results stunned just about everyone, including proponents of the bill. To put it simply, the welfare rolls collapsed. Within five years, more than 9 million people — 3 million families — had left welfare, adding up to a decline of 63 percent.”

Kay S. Hymowitz, writing on “Off the Dole,” in the January issue of Commentary

On loan from …?

“A lot of people like Howard Stern. In fact, a lot of American radio listeners more or less organize their lives around Howard Stern. And there are probably at least as many who wouldn’t cross the street to spit at Howard Stern. But here’s the thing: You will never hear a radio professional express anything but admiration, bordering on awe, for Howard Stern.

“There are plenty of debatable pantheon figures in contemporary radio, but just two, Stern and Rush Limbaugh, have redefined the medium. … These luminaries didn’t spawn imitators: they became industries. Limbaugh boasts of ‘talent on loan from God,’ which is tough to dispute when you consider what he wrought with nothing much more than a pair of tonsils.

“Some would suggest that the carnal, lowbrow gifts of Stern, who battled hidebound programmers and executives to create a formidable media empire, are on loan from God’s opposite number. It’s certainly hard to feel positive about the legion of sniggering ‘shock jocks’ who arose to imitate Stern, convinced that sheer outrageousness was the secret of his success.”

Colby Cosh writing on “Stern in Space,” in the December 2004/January 2005 issue of the American Spectator



Click to Read More

Click to Hide