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« Attention DC Libertarians | Main | What a Wise Mother Would Wish Her Children to Do For a Living if ObamaCare Passes »


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I loved your facebook points. First, that unemployment will rise because of this because of the uncertainty in terms of costs to employers this may represent. Second, your point about intentions not equaling results.

To me, the logic is a bit like this ---> 15% of the people are missing fingers so let's cut off everyone's hands.

The Facebook points Pete was referring to were these:

"With ObamaCare, in 10 years we'll still be complaining about the lack of medical care because more of us will have less of it. He also predicts unemployment will stay high due to the uncertainty of the costs to employers in this bill. Thank you House for extending the recession, lowering the quality of medical care, and impoverishing my kids' future. Your self-congratulatory tone is morally sickening."


"Dear House,

Good intentions do not equal good results.


Every Decent Social Scientist over the Last Two Centuries."


What's funny is that an earlier draft of this entry had this set of Rush lyrics in it:

"So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw."

Having just re-read Use of Knowledge in Society, I think we should mail a copy to everyone in Congress.

Someone didn't get the memo:

In more ways than one, this image comes to mind:

This is just depressing.

People are so foolish, ignorant, and stupid. At this stage I refuse to use rationally ignorant to define their actions they are simply beyond help.

"Having just re-read Use of Knowledge in Society, I think we should mail a copy to everyone in Congress."

That and "Freedom and the Economic System".

The contemporary zeitgeist blowing through both intellectual and popular culture seems to have relegated spontaneous order to the ash heap of history. The central planners apparently won the day 100 years ago, and some of us are just now hearing the news.

In my opinion, the final blow that nailed our coffin shut was the development of high-powered numerical computation with the computer. Humans are basically fearful animals, and the grand dream of harnessing the power of numbers to order our individual and collective lives in ways which we can predictably control is just too enticing. Common man is intoxicated with the idol of numerical computation, largely because he is basically ignorant of mathematics. He stands in complete reverent submission when modeling of the Navier-Stokes equations are leveraged to predict the dynamical flow of air over the surface of an aircraft wing so precisely, that pilots report that many high-end simulators are better than flying the real aircraft.

The supposed practical utility of numerical computation even morphs into profound moral and legal questions. If a centralized planner armed with a powerful computer can quickly model "ideal" outcomes by fiddling with boundary conditions, then it inevitably becomes immoral or illegal for an individual to assert his personal choices in ways which are counter to the "best" statistically stable outcomes of the model. We see this paradigm arising in all types of social problems which are now merging with physical science issues. Modeling of climate is a good example. Healthcare and medicine is another. If a computer simulation suggests that my individual preferences for the ordering my own life may in some non-linear way teleconnect to the drowning or starving of some poor soul on the other side of the planet, then my actions must be legislated against.

Unfortunately, I fear the Austrian/free market perspective will be unable to beat back the computational police in economics. The turf where this battle must be fought (I fear) is on the grounds of non-linear dynamics. When we talk of knowledge problems, these are merely issues of initial conditions to a modeler. Theorists will need to conclusively demonstrate to the satisfaction of the intellectual world how utterly primitive and futile the effort of numerical computation is in certain highly-non linear dynamical situations (especially ones in the social sciences). Reasoned a priori arguments using simple historical examples are not enough when humans have learned that so much of our world is non-intuitive to the point where their our own skills of intuition and logic can no longer be trusted. In this world, the side with the most computational power wins the game.

K Sralla,

FWIW, I've been banging the drum for "computable economics" for a while. I think computability issues are an important part of the answer the computer-assisted whiz-bang stuff you cite.

The 21st century market moves to greater and greater choice for individuals. What do we get from the government? A one size fits all solution in 1930's style.

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