Press-Republican

Columns

June 10, 2012

Grasso takes the helm at TDC

There is an Achilles heel of capitalism. Its very strength is its weakness. The competitive model stresses the energies and inspirations of myriad economic agents, each trying to outsmart, outproduce and out-innovate others. They each glean the signals the market offers and develop strategies to earn their profits. They do so without coordination.

The alternative has not worked very well. All-knowing central authorities that fully understand what resources are at their command and what everybody wants have proved elusive. Even if the government could know these things, the lack of a profit motive often produces wastefulness, lack of initiative and a failure to produce at competitive prices. Most every government that once subscribed to a centrally planned economy has realized its folly.

This leaves us with the competitive model, with its strengths in innovation and in the pursuit of efficiency. However, its weakness is that, in the independent pursuit of profits by myriad capitalists, signals get crossed. One entity pursues a strategy, sometimes at the expense of, and at other times in ignorance of, the greater goals of others and of the economy as a whole.

The result is the occasional coordination failure. We have been experiencing one on a global scale for the past four years. At these times, we require someone to lead us away from our own worst economic enemy, ourselves.

While I have all but given up on the ability of our national and global leaders to come together, some local groups have proved more able. Agencies like the Chamber of Commerce and The Development Corporation (TDC) in Clinton County can facilitate economic coordination. Garry Douglas has shown great success in aligning disparate forces. I predict that the new president of TDC, Paul Grasso, can do the same as he begins his new job tomorrow.

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