When the typo reveals something of interest


It is, of course, jejeune to mock today's newspapers for having typos in headlines. For while the near total absence of subeditors does lead to such errors things were not so much better in the past. Private Eye has been calling it the Grauniad for years as a result of that paper (and PE does swear that it was true although others are more sceptical) managing to misspell its own masthead one day. But this link to a Boris Johnson column is particularly delicious:

Capitalism can same lives: Ed doesn't get that

By the time you read this we're sure it will have been changed. But the joy of this is that it's exactly capitalism that not only saves lives, as Johnson avers, but also capitalism and its handmaiden, free markets, that vary lives. It's socialism and planning that produces the monotony. Eastern Europe (and parts of the UK sadly) is littered with concrete monstrosities, stack a prole worker flats (panelaki in Czech, Brezneviki in Russian, horrible in every language) where the indistinguishable masses were to live their indistinguishable lives between indistinguishable walls. Venezuela's Bolivarian socialism has brought the monotony of no toilet paper for anyone to all.

That people can make a shilling or two by catering to niche tastes, that a way to make further profits is to slice and dice and vary one's offerings is precisely what does produce the variety that the modern market economy offers. Depending upon who you believe the island of Manhattan currently has 1 billion or 10 billion different items offered for sale, right now. This is a cornucopia of choice that no planned economy has ever managed to produce. And it's also a complexity that no planned economy could ever deal with: there's simply not enough computing power available to us to be able to calculate the interactions between that many items.

As with the phrase in vino veritas, or the way that a slip of the tongue can reveal the inner complexity of thought, so sometimes a typo can be an instructive mistake, making us think about the underlying point. The very joy of capitalism is that it doesn't "same" lives, it's the dead hand of the state that does that.