Art Carden Praises “Openness to Creative Destruction”

Economist Art Carden has written a fine review of my Openness book under the title “New Ideas Are the Key to Economic Development.” The review is fair, mostly positive, and well-written. His main reservation is that he sides with many other distinguished libertarians, but against me, on my argument that the patent system should be reformed rather than abolished.

Here is the final paragraph of Carden’s review:

I am glad to see Openness to Creative Destruction appear in print. It strikes a fine balance between detail and a big-picture perspective that, I think, can be read profitably by specialists and students alike. Anyone who wants to understand how the world grew rich and, importantly, what will sustain our enrichment would do well to have this book on the shelf.

Boudreaux Names “Openness” as One of Seven “Superb” Books Published in 2019

George Mason economics professor Donald Boudreaux, in his essay “Some Great Books for Stuffing Stockings” says “I offer here a list of seven superb books published in 2019 that your open-minded friends and family members are sure to love.”

I am honored that he included my Openness to Creative Destruction as one of the seven:

Arthur Diamond, Jr. Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism. As does George Will, Diamond emphasizes the vital role played by individual entrepreneurs in helping to create modern mass prosperity. (The accounts of the challenges and efforts of flesh-and-blood entrepreneurs through the years is alone worth the price of this book.) And as does Deirdre McCloskey, Diamond recognizes also the importance of widespread respect for innovators and businesspeople. Making clear that modernity’s prosperity is the result of creative destruction, this book offers an unusually effective and powerful explanation of genuine market competition and a brilliant brief for its indispensability and for its goodness.

Openness on Display at Oxford Booth at AEA Meetings

Founding Entrepreneur Still Runs FedEx

Clayton Christensen plausibly argues that in the rare cases where an incumbent firm has been able to disrupt itself, it is almost always a firm where the founding entrepreneur is still running the firm.

(p. A1) MEMPHIS, Tenn.— Fred Smith bristles at any hint that FedEx Corp., the global delivery giant he built over four decades, could be disrupted by a player such as Amazon.com Inc.

. . .

FedEx’s 75-year-old chairman and chief executive, the man who pioneered the business of moving packages around the world at lightning speed, is confronting some of the greatest threats to the company he founded.

Global trade is slowing and tariff (p. A9) fights have companies rethinking supply chains. A key partner, the U.S. Postal Service, is struggling. Amazon has morphed from a customer into a competitor.

. . .

Mr. Smith, a former Marine officer and decorated Vietnam War veteran, started FedEx in 1971 and has been CEO for nearly its whole history. The billionaire was preparing to hand over the reins, but he extended his stay after two top executives, including his heir apparent, abruptly left.

That has left Mr. Smith, who remains one of FedEx’s biggest shareholders, to revamp the business. He started with divorcing Amazon.

For years, Amazon has been building up its logistics operations to handle more deliveries itself. The online retailing giant added tractor-trailers, hundreds of sorting centers and dozens of cargo planes to carry millions of its packages. It now delivers nearly half its orders, compared with less than 15% in 2017, according to estimates from research firm Rakuten Intelligence.

In February [2019], Amazon noted in its annual report that it views companies in “transportation and logistics services” among its rivals.

“They had never done that before that day,” Mr. Smith said. “So we took it seriously.”

For the full story, see:

Paul Ziobro. “FedEx Chief Reinvents Firm He Founded.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, October 18, 2019): A1 & A9.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 17, 2019, and has the title “Fred Smith Created FedEx. Now He Has to Reinvent It.”)

YouTube Archives Can Reduce the Pain from Missing What Has Been Creatively Destroyed

(p. 10) When Robb Alvey, an amusement park fanatic, heard that Universal Studios Orlando was shuttering its beloved “Jaws”-themed ride in 2012, he made sure to grab a front-row seat for the closing day.

Using a hand-held digital camera, he filmed the six-minute boat ride: from the skipper Jacob welcoming passengers; to the “mayday” distress call; to the first sighting of the prosthetic shark; to the grenade launchers and exploding fireballs; and, finally, to the “high-voltage” cable that fries the animatronic beast.

Mr. Alvey, 49, who lives in Orlando, Fla., and runs a website called Theme Park Review, uploaded the footage to YouTube. Seven years later, the video has been viewed more than 160 million times.

. . .

That longing for expired rides is certain to increase in coming years, as America’s theme parks are renovated: In August, Disney announced that Epcot will undergo yet another major overhaul, while Universal Orlando recently revealed plans for a massive new park called Epic Universe.

And when parks make big changes, the charmingly antiquated rides are often first to go. In 2014, Walt Disney World shuttered its Studio Backlot Tour, a behind-the-scenes look at movie production, to make room for “Star Wars”: Galaxy’s Edge, a blockbuster attraction that opened this year.

“The backlot tour was over two hours long, and took up a big part of your day, but it showed you every aspect of filmmaking,” said Alicia Stella, 37, a journalist who covers theme parks on her website Orlando ParkStop. “I miss those kinds of attractions. A lot of the new ones are fast-paced thrill rides.”

Such expansions are a reminder that the parks are in a constant state of evolution, which makes the archivists’ efforts all the more crucial: You never know when your favorite ride could close for good.

For the full story, see:

Brian Raftery. “The Ride Has Ended, but It Still Goes On.” The New York Times, SundayStyles Section (Sunday, November 3, 2019): 10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 2, 2019, and has the title “Where ‘Jaws,’ the Ride, Lives Forever.”)