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Dear Friends,

According to a recent interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, researchers have apparently come close to designing materials that can “heal” themselves. It works like this. Those of us who live in cold climates know that winter is murder on road surfaces. From December through February, cracks stretch their way through the roads as if the cold were melting the pavement. These cracks litter the roadways until the local street crews can get around to filling them with asphalt. However, had the road been paved with self-healing cement, at the first signs of these cracks the cement would start to knit itself back together.

Who knows if these self-healing materials will ever be feasible or widely used? What is far more pertinent is that we are even talking about the possibility of the actual existence of such a thing as a self-healing material. Human ingenuity is remarkable. While it is true that human beings have not always used this ingenuity for the betterment of the human family, bottling this ingenuity up in some form of highly regulated economic system is not the answer. The same flaws in human character which appear in the misuse of such ingenuity are amplified when mediated through government bureaucracies. Without a price incentive in such a command-and-control system people simply use their ingenuity to beat the system rather than create products that will serve the needs people deem themselves to have. This principle is self-evident in the proliferation of organized crime and the black market in countries formerly under the umbrella of the Soviet Union. It is within free economies that such innovations as self-healing materials have a distinct possibility to move from imagination to reality.

At the Acton Institute, we do our best to both celebrate and guide the moral potential of the free market in unlocking human ingenuity. Your financial support allows our vision to move to reality. Thank you so much.


Rev. Robert A. Sirico