DEIRDRE N. MCCLOSKEY:
Why are we so rich? . . .
Actually, the “we” of comparative enrichment includes most countries nowadays, with sad exceptions. . . .
What caused it? The usual explanations follow ideology. . . .
Deirdre has other ideas:
The capital became productive because of ideas for betterment—ideas enacted by a country carpenter or a boy telegrapher or a teenage Seattle computer whiz. As Matt Ridley put it in his book “The Rational Optimist” (2010), what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” . . .
Why did ideas so suddenly start having sex, there and then? . . .
The answer, in a word, is “liberty.” Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not.
Yes, liberty. Read the whole thing.