… is from page 119 of Frank Easterbrook’s brilliant 1989 paper “Ignorance and Antitrust,” which first appeared in published form in Thomas M. Jorde and David J. Teece, eds., Antitrust, Innovation, and Competitiveness (1992) (footnote deleted):
The hallmark of the Chicago approach to antitrust is skepticism. Doubt that we know the optimal organization of industries and markets. Doubt that government could use that knowledge, if it existed, to improve things, given the ubiquitous private adjustments that so often defeat public plans, so that by the time knowledge had been put to use the world has moved on. Efforts to improve markets through law aim at a moving target, with a paradox: if an economic institution survives long enough to be studied by scholars and stamped out by law, it probably should be left alone, and if an economic institution ought to be stamped out, it is apt to vanish by the time the enforcers get there.
DBx: What is most lacking in intellectuals and in politicians is humility. The great majority of them mistake their own impressions and theories of reality as sufficient reason to justify the state using force to mold this inconceivably complex reality into the comparably childlike-simple shapes fancied by intellectuals and politicians. All such people play god. That the god they play poses as benevolent does nothing to make this overwhelming hubris acceptable.