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Don’t Fall for the Fallacies of Economic Nationalism

In my most-recent column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review I lament the fact that Oren Cass – like so many other “national conservatives” and “Progressives” – does not appreciate the full reality of creative destruction. A slice:

Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Simon and Deirdre McCloskey are only three of the economists who’ve demonstrated that high and rising prosperity for ordinary people is the result of innovation that destroys old patterns of production and replaces these with new and better ones. Such “creative destruction” is inescapable for those who wish to be members of a society that grows and prospers economically.

Yet Cass and other proponents of “national conservativism” are uncomfortable with creative destruction. Obsessing over the destruction, they’re blind to the creativity.

It’s true that patterns of production, work, and community life are changed by competition and the innovation that it inspires. It has been so for the past two centuries. But it’s untrue that the replacement of older forms of community engagement with new forms necessarily means less, or less-satisfying, personal engagement with others.

Oren Cass despairs — understandably — at the loss of the familiar. What he misses is the fact that government-imposed “models” to temper such change reduce not only prosperity but also liberty. This last price, for me, is too high to pay.