More Unalloyed Arrogance

by Don Boudreaux on February 28, 2009

in Hubris and humility

Here’s a letter that I sent a few days ago to the Washington Post:

Dear Editor:

Today’s cackling by politicians and pundits about how the auto industry should be restructured, the health-care industry overhauled, and the banking industry reorganized is deafening.  Surely I’m not alone in being horrified that so many people with no experience in these industries – and with no skin in any of these games – fancy
themselves qualified to pontificate about matters on which their knowledge can’t possibly be more than superficial.

This cascade of instructions from the inexperienced calls to mind a passage from Gogol’s Dead Souls: “He talks about everything, touches lightly on everything, he says everything he has filched out of books brightly and picturesquely, but he hasn’t got any of it in his head; and you see afterwards that a talk with a humble merchant who knows nothing but his own business but does know that thoroughly and by experience, is better than all these chatterboxes.”*

Donald J. Boudreaux

* Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls (New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2005 [1842]; trans. by Constance Garnett), p. 178.


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