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Poor Excuses for Government Intervention

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In my latest column for AIER, I describe three poor excuses for government intervention [2]. A slice:

Yet another commonly encountered but very weak rationale for government action is “Experts say….”

The economy isn’t a machine that needs fine-tuning by expert social engineers. Instead, the economy is the vast array of detailed commercial interactions of millions of individuals each pursuing his or her own goals, and each with his or her unique bits of knowledge.

For example, no one other than me knows whether or not I value an extra $300 of monthly income more than I value an extra day each month of paid leave. Likewise, no one other than my neighbor knows her preference on this front — a preference that likely differs from my own. Nevertheless, we are bombarded today with reports of self-styled “experts” who assert, despite their ignorance of other people’s preferences, that the amount of paid leave currently supplied on the market is “inadequate.” But because there is no compelling reason [3] to believe that market exchanges consistently prevent workers from adequately prompting employers to take suitable account of workers’ preferences for paid leave, all such “expert” assertions of inadequate paid leave are unwarranted.

Put differently, the only expert on the amount of paid leave that is best for me is me. And the only expert on the amount of paid leave that is best for you is you. No professor, no think tank scholar, no pundit, and no politician has as much knowledge of workers’ preferences as do each of the workers themselves. Therefore, any and all assertions that “experts” have determined that government should take steps to increase paid leave ought to be disregarded, for such assertions in fact aim to impose the preferences of people who are in fact non-experts over the preferences of the true experts — namely, each worker.

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