Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A biblical case for the libertarian productivity advantage

A libertarian capitalist and biologist raise this, from the book of Proverbs:
Check out this Econtalk podcast, an interview with ant scientist Deborah Gordon. The theme is how ant colonies are highly organized and productive economies, with the division of labor coordinated across thousands of participants, but with no central leadership or control whatsoever (the so-called "queen" is unique only in that she alone lays eggs).

Gordon begins by quoting the Bible, the famous line from Proverbs about how we should emulate the industriousness of ants: "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" But she reveals the entire context of this famous line -- it's not the ant's industry alone that is admirable, but just as much his independence and self-determination:

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

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