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Hubris Universal

Here's a letter that I sent today to USA Today:

Scolding the late Robert
McNamara for the hubris of his foreign policy is now de rigueur.  As
you correctly argue, on Vietnam Mr. McNamara "didn't assess the limits
of American power" ("McNamara's hubris holds lessons for today's
," July 7).  Like so many Really Smart People, he possessed a
mindless faith in the ability of analytical genius, backed by
government power, to right the world's wrongs.

But the dangers
of hubris and the limits of top-down solutions designed by geniuses
don't exist only outside of our borders; they're just as real
domestically.  If unpredictability, incalculable details, and
unintended consequences threaten to make a mess of interventions
abroad, surely the same stubborn aspects of reality threaten to make a
mess of centralized, genius-planned interventions on the home front
such as those that aim to supply universal health care and to create a
"green economy."

Donald J. Boudreaux


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