December 4, 2012


Been far too long since the last Heinlein quote of the day and I was handed the perfect segue for one of my favorites. In fact, I can't believe I've not quoted this one here yet but a site search for "sonnet" produced no hits.

Repeat commenter Steve D (more please!) sez [fifth comment]: "No one human being can do everything, nor should he." I've read the one about nobody knowing how to do everything to make a simple wooden pencil, and I'm not advocating that someone quit his day job and go into business competing with Eberhard Faber or Blackfoot Indian Writing Company (they still around?) But I will say that an industrious enough person could make a pencil all by himself, if necessary. It would take days and cost much more but it could be done if, say, the free market were ever effectively outlawed by one too many mandate or tax.

The comment was in a thread discussing comparative advantage, but that contributor to efficiency and prosperity is a luxury that requires a basic framework of free trade before it can be brought to bear. Sometimes this doesn't exist, either in a revolution or on a frontier. It is in that environment where one does well to heed the advice of the Sci-Fi master:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. - RAH, 'Time Enough for Love' (1973)
Quote of the Day Posted by JohnGalt at December 4, 2012 7:24 PM

David Ricardo is having a rough week 'round these parts...

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2012 7:45 PM

Not sayin' he's wrong, just that he'd have a hard time surviving in the jungle.

Posted by: johngalt at December 6, 2012 6:07 PM

Yet, curiously, the best way to learn is to be marooned on a desert island

Posted by: jk at December 6, 2012 6:50 PM | What do you think? [3]