Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 24, 2022

in Hubris and humility, Philosophy of Freedom, Trade

… is from page 7 of Deirdre McCloskey’s 2021 book, Bettering Humanomics: A New, and Old, Approach to Economic Science (link added):

Economic logic itself contradicts social engineering in its varied forms. If the social engineers were so smart, as I noted long ago in studying the rhetoric of storytelling in economics, why aren’t they rich? Industrial policy, anyone? It’s a fair question to ask of any expert proposing to run your life with helpful suggestions or with coerced policies based on an alleged ability to predict the future. Supernormal profit … is a strict implication of a supposed ability to predict and control. Yet we can’t predict and control, not profitably, in a creative economy. Name the economist who predicted the internet or containerization or the Green Revolution or the automobile or the modern university or the steam engine.

DBx: This point, as simple as it is profound, continues to be ignored by proponents, left and right, of industrial policy. The reason it is ignored likely is that it is unanswerable. Once this point is grasped and granted, the case for industrial policy is revealed to be as intellectually substantive as dryer lint.

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