The Wall Street Bailout was a bad idea. The Student Loan Bailout is another bad idea. Rewarding bad decisions just encourages bad decisions.Read more »
Arvin Vohra is an educator and entrepreneur who was born and raised in Maryland. His latest book is Lies, Damned Lies, and College Admissions. His companies include Arvin Vohra Education, Mind Sculptor Software, and Education4Sale.com. His book, The Equation for Excellence: How to Make Your Child Excel at Math, has been published in both the United States and China, and has been featured on Channel 9 News. Before starting his own business, he studied Mathematics and Economics at Brown University, and then worked as an actuary. Read more »
Latest News: The Republican Failure to Understand Creative Destruction
During the past election cycle, the Republican Party emphasized the importance of “creative destruction” in a free market. This is the idea that in a free market, new products and ideas take the place of old ones. New businesses are created, and old businesses are destroyed. For example, when the automobile was invented, the horse and buggy industry became obsolete.
Creative destruction is absolutely essential to progress. Unfortunately, Republicans seemed to grasp this idea only partially. First, they supported the Wall Street Bailout and hundreds of subsidies for big corporations, including the pharmaceutical industry. But more importantly, they do not seem to recognize that creative destruction also applies to the world of ideas, social values, and cultural norms. For example, the work of Galileo and Copernicus destroyed the idea that the sun orbited the earth, and created the idea that the earth went around the sun. Similarly, the understanding that it was okay for women to read destroyed the idea that literate women should be burned as witches. Today, the Republican failure to embrace creative destruction in the realm of ideas and social policy alienates them from the vast majority of intelligent Americans, who do not want to see the development of new ideas halted by an oppressive government.
The question I hear most often from opponents of gay marriage: “Why do gays need to have official, government approved marriage? Why can’t they just do whatever they want?”
First, historically, they haven’t been able to, and have been persecuted for “obscene” behavior in many countries. But more significantly: right now, heterosexual, monogamy gets the equivalent of a government subsidy. It allows you certain conveniences, such as the ability to visit your loved one in a hospital. It allows the massive benefit of being able to get a visa for your fiance, a green card for your spouse, and help pave the way to his or her U.S. citizenship. That is no small privilege, and is conferred only to heterosexual monogamy. Republicans have no problem fighting against the special benefits conferred to public sector unions. And yet, they seem totally okay with a massive government benefit conferred to a group of people whose practices have a 50% fail rate (50% of heterosexual, monogamous marriages end in divorce.)
In the past, the government had granted heterosexual monogamy an absolute monopoly, in the same way they once gave Bell a complete monopoly on the phone system. Gay men and women had the choice of: heterosexual marriage or nothing. Now that monopoly is being challenged, which is exactly what Republicans should support.
The simplest solution is to get rid of all special privileges given to heterosexual monogamy. The only other reasonable solution is to give identical privileges to all other forms of permanent consenting relationships between any number of adults.
The second stupidest RNC move this year (after mistreating Ron Paul) was to argue for more vigorous opposition to pornography and “obscenity”. Politically, this makes little sense. The only serious opposition to pornography comes from hardcore feminist groups, who traditionally vote Democrat, and that opposition is waning as more female-friendly porn enters the marketplace.
But it’s another example of the Republican failure to understand Creative Destruction. Open competition of ideas has pretty clearly shown that just as people prefer faster computers, they prefer varied and explicit porn. The massive internet traffic and billions of dollars in revenue has shown that pretty handily.
The English language is a great language. It combines the academic complexity of Latin with the immediacy of Anglo-Saxon. It has been used in the poetry of Shakespeare and T.S. Elliot, in the novels of J.D. Salinger and Philip Roth. It is the basis of commands in the C programming language, and in Java, Actionscript, Python, and dozens of others. It is the language of business throughout the world. In open, free competition, English has done quite well. And the last thing that the English language needs is a government subsidy.
And yet, by insisting that English become the “official” language of the United States, that is exactly what Republicans are demanding. It is a complete unwillingness to embrace creative destruction. It’s a refusal to say that “English can compete just fine on its own,” and instead saying, “We cannot face the possibility of failure, so we need government protection.”
The Drug War is an attempt to use government force to prop up an obsolete idea: the idea that alcohol is fundamentally good, and marijuana is fundamentally bad. The thousands of highly successful current and former marijuana users in America, ranging from artists and comedians to the President of the United States, indicate that this view is patently false. Marijuana does not automatically destroy your life. And destroying the lives of marijuana users by incarcerating them certainly doesn’t improve anything.
Creating the Future
Just as technological innovations make old ideas obsolete, new ideas make old ones obsolete. By demanding that the government protect obsolete ideas, Republicans have failed to truly comprehend and embrace creative destruction. Allowing people to cling to backwards views is fine. People have the right to believe whatever foolishness they want.
But using government to force others to kowtow to them is preposterous. If the Republican Party wants to be taken seriously by the people whom others respect, they need to recognize the importance of creative destruction in the realm of ideas and values.