From Jim O'Brien
December 02, 2016

Hi Friend,

Creative Destruction

It was a hot day last July when a '57 Chevy pulled next to me at the traffic light. It brought a wave of nostalgic memories of idols from yesteryear. For a brief second I could see myself behind the wheel. I could also feel the July heat since air conditioning wasn't available on '57 Chevys. Pragmatism won out over nostalgia as I gave thanks for modernity.

One time in my life I drove a 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, arguably the finest car made at the time. But even people who own a Rolls are sometimes forced into distress sales and so it was that I was given the opportunity to drive the car of my wildest dreams. The year was 1970 and the car was 9 years old, not old by most standards. The rear doors opened to detailed opulence from the Rosewood fold down cocktail bar to the lambswool carpet. The 15-minute drive included an explanation of the varied features.

Driving was another experience, but not the one I had envisioned. It drove like an old truck, not the dream car I was expecting. To be fair, this was before the days of computerized suspensions, precision steering and a host of other improvements. The steering wheel was almost as large as one of the giant tires. It didn't glide, it lumbered. Stopping the mammoth beast required an act of Congress. The latest safety design was a padded dash. Even a Rolls becomes obsolete.

Joseph Schumpeter was an economist who taught that a market driven economy improves products. He believed national economies need a dynamic element to be successful which is best exemplified when obsolete items are discarded and replaced by improved versions.

Men who restrict the free market work against the best interest of the citizens. It's hard to believe that there was a time that an American President wanted to eliminate cars. President Woodrow Wilson believed automobiles were an unnecessary extravagance which only served the vanity of wealthy people. You can thank our Founding Fathers that you don't ride a horse to work every day. They had the wisdom to create a constitution limiting the power of men like Wilson who obstruct progress.

Modernity has not yet arrived in Cuba. Most of the cars are still from the early 50's. Surprisingly, some in our media tell us that citizens of Cuba prefer ox carts over cars. One man, Fidel Castro, hated the free-market and he imposed his communistic governance on the nation. So, maybe people who know nothing of modern cars prefer an ox cart. My third great grandfather may have agreed.

If the '57 Chevy or '61 Rolls was the latest technology allowed by the government we would still be driving cars without air bags, seat belts, brakes that stop on a dime, or a myriad of technical achievements that make life better.

But all of this means that the old must be eliminated. A pile of crushed cars gives mute testimony to the reality of obsolescence. Somewhere on that pile is a 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud with genuine Rosewood paneling. But don't despair. A pickup truck built in the last 20 years, if only to transport cattle from one pasture to another, is a superior engineering accomplishment to the car built to transport a king 50 years ago. And that advancement did not come through governmental decree. It arose out of the spirit in man.

God is the Creator but creating demands destruction. The old must make way for the new. When Jesus was resurrected the Old Covenant was replaced by the new because the old was growing old. "For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." (Hebrews 8:7)

Getting something new requires sweeping away the old. Jesus told the religious authorities of his day, ""the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." (Matt. 21:43 NIV) Something had to be destroyed before something better could be created.

One day, even this earth will be obsolete. The Apostle John wrote, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away..." (Rev. 21:1)

Think about all the work God put into creating the earth. Yet it will be consumed in flames. (2 Peter 3:7) And He will light the match that will destroy the earth He created. But this precedes the biggest improvement of all, the coming of the Kingdom of God that will exist for eternity.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien