Knowledge is

Great Quote of the Day from Cafe Hayek. Especially this part:

In particular, free trade facilitated the exchange of knowledge across countries about new production methods and business practices.

An Boudreaux then wisely comments on this:

…knowledge itself – that most precious and misunderstood ‘input’ into the operation of any commercial society – is spread more widely, effectively, surely, and quickly when trade is free.

We don’t think in these terms. When I read this, I imagined a teacher holding an iPhone up to her class and asking her students, What is this?

I then imagined answers from her class such as:

  • It’s an iPhone.
  • It’s a social media device.
  • It’s technology.
  • It’s whatever you need it to be, for the most part.

And then the teacher responding:

Yes. It’s all of that. But, it’s something more. It’s a culmination of knowledge from across the world and time. It’s here now and accessible to you because of the knowledge of millions of people who exist now or in the past. 

Think of it this way. If you had to rely only on yourself (like cavemen), or your family (like hunter gatherers), or the people in your town (like feudal societies), or your state (like closed-border communist/fascist and sometimes socialists societies) or people in some government somewhere (like people who think government can provide all we need) to make things for you, you would not have this or the benefits that you enjoy from it. 

We never think of how knowledge of others benefit us. Just think if you had to rely on yourself to come up with even the most basic element of this device: its touch screen. Where would you have started? Would you ever figured out how to make it before you starved to death?

Simple exchange of knowledge allows us to have the best standard of living ever experienced on this planet. We should grow to appreciate things that allow us to share knowledge (like free trade, immigration, etc.) and be very leery of things that stifle it.

 

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