|Adam Smith. Source: WSJ|
Deirdre McCloskely has an excellent essay in the Saturday Wall Street Journal Review.
Her answer: "Ideas started having sex," a glorious sentence she attributes to Matt Ridley.
"The idea of a railroad was a coupling of high-pressure steam engines with cars running on coal-mining rails. The idea for a lawn mower coupled a miniature gasoline engine with a miniature mechanical reaper. "And so on. She is exactly right. We tend to focus on the original idea, the basic science. That's necessary, but 99% of growth comes from elaboration, implementation, and the marriage of ideas -- sex in the sense of genes combining and making new things.
What's the bar for these hookups?
The answer, in a word, is “liberty.” Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious.Also,
...equality. ...not an equality of outcome... equality before the law and equality of social dignity.Though, as she points out at length, the social dignity, property rights, and equality of entrepreneurs has always been a dicey matter.