Sep 25, 2014 0
Kevin Williamson writes The Unmanageable Man in The National Review.
The scientific study of complex adaptive systems such as markets has taken Ludwig von Mises’s philosophical critique of central planning and developed a formidable body of knowledge that suggests a much more general and sweeping understanding of Mises’s underlying principle. Even a relatively simple economic activity — say, the cultivation and sale of wheat — is far too complex to be comprehended, anticipated, or managed by any bureaucracy, agency, or committee, no matter how intelligent and well-meaning its agents, no matter how well-equipped and incentivized they may be.
F. A. Hayek warned us against the “pretense of knowledge.” But the fact is that our public-policy debate is broadly organized around that very pretense, which is practically an article of faith.
Reality is remorselessly wearing away at the planners’ pretense. In 2008, the best and brightest in Washington, who believe themselves to be among the most intelligent and powerful men and women in the world, stood by helplessly as their ambitions were done in by the very houses in which we live, like cells turning against the body as cancer. Washington’s response was to apply to health care the same effective management it had brought to housing policy, executing its program with approximately the ineptitude that one might have expected.