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Truly Productive People

The letter below, to the New York Times, is an expansion of a comment that I made on this post:

Ted Kennedy’s canonization is too much.  Every day brings the deaths of thousands of people, the vast majority of whom are known only to their families and friends.  These people aren’t mourned by politicians, reporters, or the general public.

Yet almost every one of these unheralded persons has been more productive than has Ted Kennedy – or Chuck Grassley, Nancy Pelosi, the Georges Bush, or any other politician you name, whether he or she be still breathing or buried.

Who installed the windows in my house?  I don’t know.  Yet he provided value to me and never forced his hand into my wallet or his nose into my eating habits.  Who will fly the plane that will carry me home tomorrow from Michigan to Virginia?  I have no idea.  Yet that pilot will render unto me (and dozens of others) a valuable service in exchange for funds that I voluntarily paid to his or her employer.  That pilot doesn’t force me to fly.  Nor does he or she presume to know better than I do what is best for my family and me.

Who caught the fish that I will eat tonight?  Who trucked it from the sea to my hotel?  Who will cook that fish?  Who designed the dishwasher that cleaned the plate and utensils that I will use?

I know almost none of the millions of people whose daily efforts make possible my life and that of countless other Americans.  These people don’t hatch grand plans for arrogantly re-working society.  They offer only to deal voluntarily with me and with others, never pretending – unlike Mr. Kennedy – to be endowed with a mysterious genius and a saintly inspiration justifying haughty intrusions into the affairs of others.

Politicians are mortals.  But as their greedy lust for power and glory reveals, they are mortals especially flawed.

Donald J. Boudreaux