Taking up the study of economics can help unravel many mysteries of history, among which is the pressing issue: Whatever happened to sexy stewardesses? I don’t mean as individuals, but as an institution, as a cultural icon, as a persistent commercial expectation.
There was a time when a jet-setting playboy was pictured as having a stewardess or two on his arm. On TV, one guy would be trying to get some other guy to be the necessary second guy for a double date: “They’re stewardesses, Bob — stewardesses!”
Sandy Ikeda writes today about the origins of spontaneous order, of things that humans created but did not design. Languages, money, and markets are absolutely essential to our survival. But could a person invent them from scratch?
For illustration, Ikeda asks us to imagine a “genius caveman.” What if some wonderfully precocious prehistoric person dreamed up the iPad? If he knew exactly what he needed to build the device, down to the last line of code, could he bring it off?
For a look at the limitations of a big-brained ancestor, give Ikeda’s column a read.
"The human right of a free press depends upon the human right of private property in newsprint."
— Murray N. Rothbard
In almost every discussion of the FCC specifically, or American spectrum policy in general, someone will assert that radio spectrum is a unique resource that belongs to the public. This will be said as if it were axiomatic — a starting point rather than the historical consequence of special interests pretending to misunderstand economics. More harm has been done to the public in the name of "the public interest" than could ever have been done by private interests in a free market. Yet the public tends to call for more intervention instead of less. The case of radio is typical.
In September 1946, The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) published 500,000 copies of a pamphlet arguing against continuation of wartime rent-control laws. This pamphlet — called “Roofs or Ceilings” and written by two young Chicago economists named Milton Friedman and George Stigler — was 20-year-old Murray Rothbard‘s introduction to FEE. It drew him into the movement, such as it was. He continued to read FEE’s publications and began attending their conferences, but a year and a half later Rothbard had still never heard of Austrian economics.
Gilligan’s Island is now out on DVD, reawakening the unanswered questions of childhood: Why does the Skipper let Gilligan help with anything when he knows he’ll just screw it up? Why did the movie star take a day cruise in an evening gown? Why did two of the richest people in the world board a dinky boat with the hoi polloi instead of leasing a private yacht? And why do any of the other stranded castaways treat the millionaire’s government money as valuable while stuck on an island where no such government can enforce its value?