Day By Day

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Barone's Simple Truths

In his latest column Michael Barone states the simple truth, long understood by conservatives, that market mechanisms are more efficient allocaters of economic resources than panels of government experts -- a fact blithely ignored by an administration that has placed its faith in the pronouncements and policies recommended by various "expert" economists. Unwilling, for obvious reasons, to call Obama's policies what they are [fascism, which as Jonah Goldberg has demonstrated is a variety of socialism] Barone instead lables the administration's policies "State Capitalism". He writes:

[F]acts are stubborn things. The fact that the private-sector economy has not responded as administration economists expected and confidently predicted should be a wake-up call.

It shows the limits of expert knowledge and of the ability of political actors to make optimal economic choices.

The intellectual firepower of this administration may be high. But so was the intellectual firepower of the postwar British Labour governments that nationalized steel and auto companies and the railroads.
That didn’t turn out so well, and for decades the British economy lagged behind those of America and its European neighbors. State capitalism has been tried before. It didn’t work.
Barone not only invokes the historical experience of post-war Britain -- he cites the opinion of a number of conservative economists, which only goes to illustrate a second simple truth -- experts are seldom in agreement on any major issue.

The Obama administration seems to have a naive faith in the ability of "experts" to come up with the single best solution to problems facing us as a people and to recommend the most effective policies to be implemented in order to deal with them. These feckless progressives do not seem to realize the simple truth -- that intellectual [and especially scientific] inquiry is a continuing dialogue in which new perspectives and evidence are constantly changing what we think we know.
Barone suggests that in the face of such uncertainty a certain degree of modesty is in order, but modesty is an alien concept to Obama's "experts". If this administration can be characterized by any single thing it would be a staggering and overwhelming hubris, based in a naive faith in the efficacy of "expert" opinion.
He leaves us with yet more uncertainty. Obama's vaunted teams of "experts" have failed, and failed miserably, but there is no indication that Republican "experts" will do any better. Maybe, just maybe, they will be a bit more modest, but there is no guarantee of that. After all, they too are "experts" and to admit that they just don't know what to do would be to deny their own value, and they are not about to do that. 

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