American Consequences - May 2020

An economy is an interconnected web of nails, shoes, horses, and much more. them to shut down on March 16. They kept takeout and delivery open until they were ordered to shut that down, too. They had to throw thousands of dollars of perishable inventory in the trash (more heartbreaking food waste). Now, with zero revenue, they’re still on the hook for $50,000 per month in rent, utilities, and other fixed expenses. Van Dyke noted the “chain-reaction impact on their employees, vendors, landlord, and lenders.” And as he concluded... The old nursery rhyme says that for want of a nail, a shoe was lost, for want of a shoe a horse was lost, and so on until a kingdom was lost. Let’s not lose the nail. Every business puts a roof over someone’s head and food on his table. They’re all essential... and thAney’re all interconnected . Just look at the restaurant industry. Restaurant owner Alan Van Dyke’s opinion letter in the Journal last month titled, “Bad Government Is Killing Small Businesses,” emphasized the interconnectedness of all businesses. Van Dyke and his three children own two brewpubs in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With 59 full- and part-time employees (before COVID-19), they spent $120,000 a month on payroll and another $130,000 on vendors. The Michigan state government ordered SOCIETAL DEATH

An economy is an interconnected web of nails, shoes, horses, and much more. The “essentialness” of all those businesses is a law of nature. You can’t break that law, but you can break yourself and everyone around you if you try to violate it. We’re doing that right now... inflicting untold pain on hundreds of millions of people worldwide. That brings me to the classic statement on the interconnectedness of all businesses... I’m talking about Leonard E. Read’s must- read essay, “I, Pencil.” Read, who founded libertarian economic think tank Foundation for Economic Education in the 1940s, wrote dozens of books and numerous essays. But this essay is one of his best-known works... Writing from the viewpoint of the pencil, Read shows that no single human being knows how to make a pencil. You might think it’s a ridiculous statement... until Read lays out all the various operations required to make one. For example, he starts his description of the pencil’s “innumerable antecedents” with the wood needed to produce the pencil... My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement


May 2020

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