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Glorious Manhattan

In my latest column for AIER I celebrate the life and commerce and emergent order of Manhattan. Here are my concluding paragraphs:

A great irony of emergent orders, such as daily life in Manhattan, is that these unplanned orders work so very well and smoothly that we take them for granted. We see only the Manhattan order’s relatively few imperfections: the traffic accident, the armed robbery, the collapsed scaffolding, the potholes.

Too many people notice only these imperfections. And noticing only these imperfections, people remain blind to the beautiful, wonderful, and stupendous order of incessant activities that is planned and designed by no one yet works for the bountiful benefit of everyone.

Of course, Manhattan is hardly the only place in which emergent orders bring prosperity and rich life experiences to the masses. But Manhattan, with its concentrated and bustling population, is perhaps the single best place in the United States for those with willing eyes to witness this order at work.

Go there. Behold crowds of pedestrians making their way down Broadway. Relish the affordable yet delicious meals you enjoy while on an island covered in concrete. Drink in the fact that 4 million people work and live in such close proximity to each other as they manage not only to avoid obstructing each other’s plans, but often to better enable each other to carry out their plans. Celebrate the human creativity and gumption that make this small rock among the most productive and prosperous places on earth. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy urban life, you cannot help but be amazed by Manhattan.


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