This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.
— Joseph Schumpeter
Yesterday, Julia, my 18-month-old, was playing with Megablocks®. She just reached a phase where she builds — as opposed to destroying — simple structures with her toys. I wanted to play with her, giving her minimal guidance and help so she can learn to erect things and enjoy the fruits of her own labor. When she sloppily added a block, I held the entire structure in place so it doesn’t all collapse. Eventually, a marvelous piece of architecture emerged.
But then I realized that no way in hell would she be able to erect such an elaborate structure without me stabilizing it and fixing it when she wasn’t looking. The more elaborate it got, the harder it was for me to keep it stable. And then it occurred to me. I was being the Fed! I was propping up this overly complicated monstrosity and giving her false hope that she could build anything without any downside risk. I was working against my libertarian values. So naturally, I decided to myself, Screw it! I’m going to be a libertarian dad! And I let go.
Without hesitation, the entire system of interconnected plastic pieces crumbled in front of her tiny eyes. I anticipated an anguished wail. I was ready to take her into my arms and comfort her, bail her out of her tearful misery and assure her that she’ll never experience disappointment again. Instead, she looked at me and started giggling. Then, she went about building again, this time completely on her own.
Admittedly, her new creations hardly reached the same stature as our now-defunct joint venture. But she didn’t seem the worse for wear. She seemed, if anything, more eager to try different configurations without my help. Lesson learned: Megablocks megastructures, even constructed by well-intentioned and cute little girls, are not too big to fail.