Why don’t we have flying cars yet? That’s J. Storrs Hall’s question. We can learn a lot by thinking about this question, and its answer.
[T]he barriers to flying cars are not technological or economic—they are cultural and political. To explain the flying car gap is to explain the Great Stagnation itself.
We live in the tomorrow that yesterday’s Progressives dreamed of—and built. The New Deal, the Great Society, the Sexual Revolution, desegregation, mass immigration, trillions of dollars to eradicate poverty. And yet what we see around us is Stagnation, not Progress. Trillions of dollars, several social revolutions—and no significant improvement in educational outcomes, health care outcomes (yes, the US has lots of public health care), poverty rates, etc. (And I haven’t even mentioned COVID relief.)
It almost makes you wonder whether even more government intrusion is going to help. And but so—back to flying cars and the future that was taken from us:
[W]e ought to have nuclear-powered everything. Nuclear homes with local, compact reactors—they don’t need to be on the grid. Nuclear cars, whether flying or ground. Even nuclear batteries—I was shocked to learn that certain designs of nuclear batteries were actually manufactured decades ago and used safely in implantable pacemakers.
A world with widespread flying cars, nuclear batteries, and all the rest is a world without real poverty. And the technology for flying cars and nuclear batteries is already in place. So why don’t we have them yet?
[E]ven if you had built a flying car and were ready to take to the air, you’d be shot down by the FAA, the mayor, the news media, the insurance company, and your neighbors. An even greater regulatory burden applies to nuclear power.
Why no flying cars yet? As it turns out, when the government gets involved in an industry, prices in that industry tend to go up—and innovation tends to go down. (Every wonder why education and health care costs have skyrocketed in recent decades? Because the government is heavily involved in education and health care. Meanwhile, TV costs have gone down.) Thus, government
investment intrusion has gutted flying cars, and nuclear energy:
What’s the result? No eradication of poverty, no flying cars, marginally fewer scientists and engineers (and musicians, and poets, and …), but many more lawyers:
What’s the cost of all those lawyers? Here’s Hall:
[T]he U.S. tort system consumes about two percent of GDP, on average. … [T]he long-run compound-interest effect on the economy as a whole is startling: without it our economy today would be twice the size it actually is. This is the closest we can come to measuring the effect of taking more than a million of the country’s most talented and motivated people and put[ting] them to work making arguments and filing briefs against each other so their efforts mostly cancel out, instead of inventing, developing, and manufacturing things which could have made life better.
And it’s not just lawyers; countless other young talented people have been diverted “from productive pursuits to expensive virtue signaling.” In 2021, the number of Americans who are actually making things is dwarfed by the number of Americans whose jobs (and very lives) are fundamentally parasitic. And so we don’t have Progress of any kind—just Stagnation.
We could have had flying cars. Instead, we have failing cities. We could have eliminated poverty. Instead, we’ve doubled it. (Same with crime.) We could have doubled the economy. We could have eliminated cancer (and maybe even aging itself). Instead…
If you care about the poor, or the working class, or children, or the elderly, or the sick, or whomever—and I do—understand that Big Government has continually failed them immensely and that more Big Government will fail them even harder. (And no, I’m not shilling for the GOP; the GOP establishment likes Big Government almost as much as the Dem establishment does.) Understand that a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, etc. would not actually solve anything—just as the original New Deal and Medicare for 44 Million haven’t actually solved anything. Understand that all your favorite activist
movements industries have actually made things worse for most Americans in need, by turning a society of creators into a society of leeches.
What Americans need is: healthy communities, healthy churches, healthy families, and healthy innovation. Big Government gets in the way of all those things. So Big Government has to go.
But ultimately what has to go is “diversity,” “inclusion,” “equity,” and all the other deceitful words in the English language. Ultimately the root problem is not Big Government—some countries with relatively big governments do just fine—but the false religion of Progressivism in all its many guises.
We can have healthy families, healthy communities, flying cars, and nuclear batteries. Or “Progress.” But not both.