Government Isn't Omniscient

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A couple of times before, I have relayed the following quote, by economist George Reisman, regarding a common misconception about economic planning:

The overwhelming majority of people have not realized that all the thinking and planning about their economic activities that they perform in their capacity as individuals actually is economic planning. By the same token, the term "planning" has been reserved for the feeble efforts of a comparative handful of government officials, who, having prohibited the planning of everyone else, presume to substitute their knowledge and intelligence for the knowledge and intelligence of tens of millions, and to call that planning. (as quoted in Andrew Bernstein's Capitalist Manifesto, p. 345) [bold added]
An article discussing the growing number of government agencies purported to combat terrorism illustrates an aspect of the problem faced by those who would attempt central planning quite well:
In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials - called Super Users - have the ability to even know about all the department's activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation's most sensitive work.

"I'm not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything" was how one Super User put it. ... [link in original, bold added]
And remember, this guy is merely trying to keep up with the activities of a relatively small number of people compared to the population at large. (This is not to say that government can't successfully combat terrorism if properly applied to the problem.)

-- CAV

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