… is from page 254 of the 2016 second edition of Thomas Sowell’s excellent volume Wealth, Poverty and Politics:
The crucial fact is that it is far easier to concentrate power than to concentrate knowledge.
DBx: Undeniably true. It is, therefore, especially astounding that nearly all proponents of government intervention succeed in passing off as science-based their proposals for policies that will work only if sufficient knowledge is concentrated in the heads of those persons who wield concentrated power. These peddlers of faux scientific policy analyses simply assume that such concentration of knowledge not only can happen, but will happen.
If an engineer submitted a design for a bridge suspended by nothing but thin air, and in doing so announced that he assumes that gravity doesn’t operate on bridges, that engineer would of course be roundly criticized and never again asked to design a bridge (or anything else). Yet when the likes of economists, lawyers, and think-tank scholars submit – as they very often do – designs for public policy built on the assumption that the requisite knowledge will somehow be concentrated in the heads of the appropriate government officials, professors, pundits, and politicians Oooh! and Ahhh! as if they are witnessing the work of great geniuses.
The spectacle would be nothing but low comedy if the consequences weren’t so horrible.