When I look at a 1970 Pontiac GTO, I don’t think of old metal. I think of sideburns, sexuality, and back seats that ensured Gen X got here just fine. I see my parents riding to FM radio on a summer night, racing beneath boulevard lights, or taking on the world. With 455 cubic inches of V8, the GTO is the quintessential muscle car. But it has creases and lines that suggest the curves of a woman. To look at that car is to see a time machine that travels to a place where long-haired gods and goddesses rumble over the earth dazed and confused, longing to be free.
By 1973, muscle cars were still cool. But stagflation had set in after embargoes by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, price controls, and wacky monetary policy. Oil and energy prices rose. A few years after that, Shi'ite fundamentalists overthrew the Shah in Iran. Energy prices rose again. Before we knew it, it was 1980. The Carter administration did a lot of backward things, like make people queue for gas. But here's a thought experiment: What if at the height of the energy crisis the president had decided to pay Americans to destroy ten-year-old cars so they would go out and buy new Datsuns? How many of those Pontiac GTOs would be around today? Or Ford Mustangs, or Dodge Challengers? Despite the fact that a 1970 GTO was still considered a pretty cool car in 1980, it had not yet been infused with 40 years of romance. Now, that essence lives in every part—in its "originality."
I am honored to have this month's column at the Library of Economics and Liberty. In "The Relentless Subjectivity of Value" I go from ultra-statist to subtler "free-market" versions of an error -- that is, the slide between subjective and objective value.
[T]he circumstances of time, context and perspective are like delicate filaments that connect the economic actor to the world. We risk destroying these filaments with too many aggregates, abstractions and models divorced from reality. And when we make concessions to a collective good that doesn't exist, we may win the argument, but lose the individual.
I may be the first non-economist, non-PhD to write this column. I don't know if that represents falling standards of quality over there or a thumbing of noses at the credentialization of everything... But one thing I do know is it's an honor to have even been asked to write the column. I hope you find the piece interesting. I'm certainly in the company of some tremendous thinkers who've written that column. I hope I can do more for them.
Read my review of Tooley's The Beautiful Tree over at The Freeman. If ever there were a living argument for greater educational freedom, it's made by the actions of real people in the developing world.
This looks more to me like a shameless attempt to repeat the mistakes of 2009 in order to curry the favor of a different sector: small business owners and constituent groups hostile to Wall Street. Whether this is Obama's atonement for Obama's bailout sins, a calculated means of buying votes, or a genuine means of helping the 'little guy' -- it's not likely to resuscitate the economy.