It’s time to end my week of guest-blogging here. Thanks again to Walter Olson and Ted Frank for indulging my ramblings. Since I’ve used most of my posts to dwell on the evils of antitrust regulation, I’d like to try and go out on a more positive note.
Yesterday I saw The Simpsons Movie. I have a long review and post about the film at the Mises Economics Blog. I ended that post by expressing admiration for the film’s animation staff:
[R]egardless of one’s take on the storyline or humor, every libertarian should stand and applaud the epic accomplishment of the people who put together the film and the series. Movie director David Silverman—who also helmed the series’ first episode in 1989—led a team of hundreds of animators in the U.S. and South Korea (take that, Lou Dobbs!) Even with today’s computer aides, the Simpsons still rely on hand drawings to produce 24 frames of animation per second. Freed of television’s size and time constraints, Silverman and his colleagues produced a gorgeous work of art that’s a worthy testament to social cooperation. Government planning or “social democracy” does not produce feature animation of this quality.
The point about social cooperation merits repetition. Among regulators and litigators, the common view holds that social conflict—regulation and litigation—advance society. FTC and DOJ officials often cite antitrust as the basis of America’s economic success, not private property rights or entrepreneurs. The message is that without all this conflict, society is doomed to collapse. Without valiant lawyers and regulators, after all, who will protect consumers, fight for social justice, et cetera. A constant barrage of fear convinces most folks that there must be some immense value in enduring all this conflict.
And yet, if you sit and watch The Simpsons Movie as I did yesterday, you remember that social cooperation will always triumph over conflict. A film that took four years and the efforts of hundreds to produce is a simple and profound testament to how society and markets actually work. It shatters the fear-induced illusions of the regulators and litigators. Those people are unproductive leeches upon society. The animators are among the productive champions of social cooperation.
In my own experience as a freelance paralegal, I’m often assigned projects of little value to clients. It’s not because the lawyers that hired me are swindling the clients—I don’t work in litigation, mostly trusts and estates—but because external regulators impose duties that require compliance. I spend a lot of time filling out forms to prevent other forms from being filled out later. There’s no productive value in this, but it does perpetuate the regulators’ false sense of social importance. (And incidentally, I’m looking for additional work right now, in case anyone in the Washington, DC-area is hiring!)
Still, I remain a positive guy despite all the social conflict that surrounds us. Yesterday’s movie reminded me that man’s (and woman’s—don’t sue me, Mr. Banzhaf) combined productive capacity far outweighs the destructive, antisocial acts of all the regulators and litigators in America. And more recently, I’ve learned that it’s futile to try and convince the opposition that they’re wrong. It’s more effective, and peaceable, to lead by example and education. Frankly, I can wait for the destructive folks to get it out of their system. I’m not going anywhere.
And with that, good night and good luck.