… is from pages 3-4 of Fred Foldvary’s and my colleague Dan Klein’s “Introduction” to their excellent 2003 collection, The Half-Life of Policy Rationales (link added):
After Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, the classic argument against government intervention is, aside from incentive problems, that the economy is too complex to know and therefore too complex to direct or manipulate in a beneficial manner. Like the spontaneous patterns of roller skating in a roller rink, the more complex the system is, the more mischievous the notion of centralized control will be. In a complex system such as that of two hundred skaters in a roller rink, we ought to rely on decentralized decision making. After all, even if the rink is without bound, the increased complexity does not pose a comparable problem for the individual skater. He does not interpret the whole; he utilizes pointed knowledge in pursuing opportunities of his particular time and place.
I chose this profoundly insightful passage as today’s Quotation of the Day because it says much more eloquently and compellingly what I tried to say yesterday in this post.