A Matter of Practicality

Written by Kip Jackson on December 1st, 2009

The Science of Success was a great summary and application of all of the ideas we’ve gained from the readings this semester. In trying to find an aspect of wealth creation Koch hadn’t addressed, I’ve come up dry. I don’t think this book introduced many ideas I wasn’t already familiar with, but Koch’s strength is in establishing a holistic system, which applies fundamental principles of economic theory in a relatively practical way. I use the term “relatively” because I still have a hard time seeing how all of Koch’s ideas can really be put to use. I am not familiar with the organization of Koch Industries (beyond what is briefly mentioned in the book), but it seems like it could turn into a fairly convoluted system in a hurry. With managers constantly reassessing the comparative advantage of each employee and adjusting roles and positions accordingly, it seems as though an enormous amount of effort would have to be exerted to constantly get “the right people in the right roles.” Also, is it not a contradiction to attempt to structure spontaneous order within an organization? I understand that such an environment can be fostered by allowing flexibility within general principles/guidelines, but is it really spontaneous?

The “science of liberty” IS absolutely crucial to the “science of success.” Although a few individuals are “wealthy” in societies that lack freedom, the wealth is not created, but rather transferred. Only in free societies are individuals given the knowledge (or at least the opportunity to gain it) and the possibility to take the risks required to succeed. The origin of all wealth can be traced back to some person recognizing an opportunity and having the ability (freedom) to take a chance on it. Without the amount of freedom required to take the risk, there would have been no possibility of wealth-creation. I’m sure there were plenty of people in the Soviet Union who thought, “I’ll bet I could make a lot of money selling comfortable boots in different sizes.” The problem certainly wasn’t a lack of entrepreneurial spirit, or any default on the part of the people, but rather a threatened and repressive government, which thwarted any possibility of individual wealth creation.


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