Competition is the Wet Stone That Makes Us Better

America was founded by people that were fond of competition.  One of the problems I see with America today is we have lost our appetite for competition in many ways.  It starts early.  Everyone gets a trophy.  Everyone is special.  That’s just not true in real life.  Sure, everyone has self worth and everyone’s life is important.  But, it takes a lot of trial and error to find out what you are special at.

Competition drives people to take risks.  Risk taking moves society forward.

One of the reasons that the University of Chicago’s Chicago Boys came up with ground breaking economic theory after ground breaking economic theory is there was a healthy competition between professors.  Routinely, they would get together and dissect and debate the formal points of the theory being presented.  It was a collegial competition.  The book, The Chicago School, discusses it at length.

It seems me that our society is setup today to avoid competition at all costs and it’s hurting us.

Case and point.  Democratic representative Tammy Duckworth has decided to run for Senate in Illinois.  That means there is a vacant seat for the House.  One Democratic candidate already declared.  I asked on Twitter if a Republican could win that seat.  Dan Curry who is an expert on politics tweeted back,


Gerrymandering from both parties in states they control has eliminated competitive political elections. The American public is worse off for it because the “competition of ideas” never really has a chance. In my home state of Illinois in a Republican wave election, not one local House or Senate district changed party hands. Not one.

Pick another state that is dominated by the opposite party and I bet it’s gerrymandered.  Curry’s second tweet is also telling. Want to get the money out of politics? End gerrymandering and increase competition.  Competition allows the little guy to compete.  David can win against Goliath.

In colleges and universities, we are becoming afraid of debating competitive ideas.  President John F. Kennedy said, “Too often … we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”  In many cases, college has turned into a place where only one side is taught.  Instead of a place to explore and debate, it’s been turned into a factory where professors look at students as hardware that they need to program one way.  It’s hurting us as a country.

When we eliminate competition from the public square, the end result is crony capitalism.  Get your person elected.  Get that person to appoint the people that run the bureaucratic agencies that will oversee things.  Then, announce a “competitive bidding process” that will be competitive in name only.  It’s really a selection process where people in the back room divide up the spoils.

Competition is healthy.  Learning how to win, and how to lose is important.  Learning how to comeback from a loss is more important than learning how to win.  But, by pre-rigging the game we all lose.  Pre-rigging causes polarization.