Go With the Flow

by Don Boudreaux on February 6, 2011

in Complexity & Emergence, Curious Task, Growth, Hubris and humility, Man of System, Standard of Living

Here’s a letter to the Baltimore Sun:

Noting that as recently as 1994 most Americans had no idea what the Internet is – and that “google” became a verb less than ten years ago – Leonard Pitts warns us against smugly believing that we can predict the future in any detail.  The title of his essay says it well: “Time makes fools out of all of us” (Feb. 6).

No one needs this warning more than does Pres. Obama.  Although his rhetoric about “investing in the technologies of the future” makes a good sound bite, Mr. Obama has no inkling what these technologies are.  Nor does anyone else.  And nor can anyone else acquire such knowledge.

Economies grow chiefly and always in surprising ways.  This growth results from millions of creative minds ceaselessly cooperating with, and competing against, each other.  The results are inherently unforeseeable and always in progress.

Even more importantly, government attempts to direct the course of technological advance and economic growth – by politically favoring some patterns of investment over others, and by replacing consumers with bureaucrats as the ultimate judges of which forms of economic activity are worthwhile – only stymie these processes.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

Did anyone who produced or purchased this baby in the late 1980s foresee wi-fi, smart phones, or Viagra?  (HT Kim Rodieck)

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