Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Readings: Jim Grant

"Revolutions, once begun, rarely proceed as the revolutionaries intended, and the chief beneficiaries of new inventions are not always the people who dreamt them up, invested in them or promoted them (they are sometimes the children or even the grandchildren of those individuals). Thus, for example, when Willis Haviland Carrier was awarded patent No. 808897 for an 'Apparatus for Treating Air,' on Jan. 2, 1906, the father of air conditioning almost certainly did not anticipate a future hole in the ozone layer or the political consequences of a 12-month congressional season. 'The introduction of air conditioning in the 1930s did more, I believe, than cool the Capitol,' reminisced Rep. Joseph W. Martin, a Massachusetts Republican, in 1960, 'it prolonged the sessions.' Would American statism have come full flower in a non-air conditioned capital city? Always, in technology, there are debits and credits."
Jim Grant, "The Economic Consequences of Air Conditioning" (1999)

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