"Postponing Reality" - Dr. Thomas Sowell

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Wed Dec 17 20:50:37 MST 2008


Postponing Reality
By Thomas Sowell
December 17, 2008

Some of us were raised to believe that reality is inescapable. But that 
just shows how far behind the times we are. Today, reality is optional. At 
the very least, it can be postponed.

Kids in school are not learning? Not a problem. Just promote them on to the 
next grade anyway. Call it "compassion," so as not to hurt their "self-esteem."

Can't meet college admissions standards after they graduate from high 
school? Denounce those standards as just arbitrary barriers to favor the 
privileged, and demand that exceptions be made.

Can't do math or science after they are in college? Denounce those courses 
for their rigidity and insensitivity, and create softer courses that the 
students can pass to get their degrees.

Once they are out in the real world, people with diplomas and degrees-- but 
with no real education-- can hit a wall. But by then the day of reckoning 
has been postponed for 15 or more years. Of course, the reckoning itself 
can last the rest of their lives.

The current bailout extravaganza is applying the postponement of reality 
democratically-- to the rich as well as the poor, to the irresponsible as 
well as to the responsible, to the inefficient as well as to the efficient. 
It is a triumph of the non-judgmental philosophy that we have heard so much 
about in high-toned circles.

We are told that the collapse of the Big Three automakers in Detroit would 
have repercussions across the country, causing mass layoffs among firms 
that supply the automobile makers with parts, and shutting down automobile 
dealerships from coast to coast.

A renowned economist of the past, J.A. Schumpeter, used to refer to 
progress under capitalism as "creative destruction"-- the replacement of 
businesses that have outlived their usefulness with businesses that carry 
technological and organizational creativity forward, raising standards of 
living in the process.

Indeed, this is very much like what happened a hundred years ago, when that 
new technological wonder, the automobile, wreaked havoc on all the forms of 
transportation built up around horses.

For thousands of years, horses had been the way to go, whether in buggies 
or royal coaches, whether pulling trolleys in the cities or plows on the 
farms. People had bet their futures on something with a track record of 
reliable success going back many centuries.

Were all these people to be left high and dry? What about all the other 
people who supplied the things used with horses-- oats, saddles, horse 
shoes and buggies? Wouldn't they all go falling like dominoes when horses 
were replaced by cars?

Unfortunately for all the good people who had in good faith gone into all 
the various lines of work revolving around horses, there was no 
compassionate government to step in with a bailout or a stimulus package.

They had to face reality, right then and right there, without even a 

Who would have thought that those who displaced them would find themselves 
in a similar situation a hundred years later?

Actually the automobile industry is not nearly in as bad a situation now as 
the horse-based industries were then. There is no replacement for the 
automobile anywhere on the horizon. Nor has the public decided to do 
without cars indefinitely.

While Detroit's Big Three are laying off thousands of workers, Toyota is 
hiring thousands of workers right here in America, where a substantial 
share of all our Toyotas are manufactured.

Will this save Detroit or Michigan? No.

Detroit and Michigan have followed classic liberal policies of treating 
businesses as prey, rather than as assets. They have helped kill the goose 
that lays the golden eggs. So have the unions. So have managements that 
have gone along to get along.

Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers are not heading for Detroit, 
even though there are lots of experienced automobile workers there. They 
are avoiding the rust belts and the policies that have made those places 
rust belts.

A bailout of Detroit's Big Three would be only the latest in the 
postponements of reality. As for automobile dealers, they can probably sell 
Toyotas just as easily as they sold Chevvies. And Toyotas will require just 
as many tires per car, as well as other parts from automobile parts suppliers.


Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford 
University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.



Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and 
do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of GOPUSA.
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