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A True American Hero
Posted By Don Boudreaux On July 4, 2011 @ 7:13 am In Civil Society,Cleaned by Capitalism,Complexity & Emergence,Everyday Life,Innovation,Seen and Unseen,Standard of Living | Comments Disabled
Ever hear of George Ballas?
I hadn’t, until 30 minutes ago. I googled him and came up with a whopping 51,000 hits. Sad, actually, as Mr. Ballas, whose death at age 85 is reported in today’s Washington Post , was one of the countless people throughout history whose creativity and entrepreneurship help to make our lives better.
‘Small achievement,’ you say, with more than a whiff of contempt for such a bourgeois effort.
I respond, ‘compared to what’? Small, no doubt, compared to the polio vaccine, the assembly line, and (one of my favorites, given that, like Mr. Ballas, I’m from Louisiana) air-conditioning. But large – huge – compared to the creativity of the political class.
Question: who has done more good for humanity? George Ballas and his weed-wacker, or [name any one of the many the politicians who 'creatively' figured out a new way to spend person A's money to help (or 'help') person B]?
The weed-wacker reduces the time we spend trimming our lawns and gardens. (“MyGod!” I hear the contemptuous mutter as they roll their eyes at such a trivial achievement. “How many stirring speeches has Mr. Ballas delivered?” [None, as far as I know.] “Was he a great general who led troops into glorious battle?” [No.] “Was he ever elected to public office?” [Not as far as I can tell.] “So he invents a machine to slice weeds and, in the process, makes a small fortune. He was no FDR or even Gerald Ford or John McCain. Get real.”)
RIP, Mr. Ballas – bourgeois hero. While no monuments will adorn the National Mall to celebrate your life, you did much more good than history will remember – and vastly more good than was done by any of the many butchers, frauds, and silver-tongued devils who do have their images recorded in marble or bronze in capital cities around the world.
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URLs in this post:
 Mr. Ballas, whose death at age 85 is reported in today’s Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/george-ballas-dies-weed-eater-inventor-was-85/2011/07/03/AGCX5kwH_story.html
 weed-wacker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_trimmer
 prosperity pool: http://cafehayek.com/2004/06/the_prosperity_.html
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