Monday, March 16, 2009

Growth and Decay

Listening to much of the discourse on the state of the economy, it's easy to form the opinion that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure a stable economy with lots of job security for everyone.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Economies are dynamic, adaptive social organizations, more akin to a rain forest than an engine room.

That means at any point in time, some businesses are healthy and growing, others are unhealthy and shrinking, and others are doomed to extinction. Attempting to make something that big and that complex "stable" requires the kind of blind faith that used to believe that the sea and stars obeyed the command of kings.

Healthy economies are places of growth and decay, "gales of creative destruction" in the words of the famous economist Joseph Schumpeter.

Well, here's more evidence of a gale. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is dropping its print edition and going Internet-only, the largest daily newspaper to do so to date -- but surely not the last.

The print newspaper had a good run. But print news is fast going the way of the clay tablet. Curious, isn't it, that while the world grows more modern in some ways -- no more clay tablets to lug around-- it continues to demonstrate a troubling faith in the power of kings?

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