A Take on the Forgotten Man

Or maybe it just reminds me of the argument, but this article refers to the hubris of man and the thought that they know so much more than they do.

The article starts out like this:

I’ve always had difficulty understanding the thought processes of people who fancy themselves fit to intervene into the affairs of other adults in ways that will improve the lives of other adults as judged by these other adults.  I understand the desire to help others, and I also understand that individuals often err in the pursuit of their own best interests.  What I don’t understand is Jones’s presumption that he, who is a stranger to Smith, can know enough to force Smith to modify his behavior in ways that will improve Smith’s long-term well-being.  Honestly, such a presumption has struck me for all of my adult life as being so preposterous as to be inexplicable.  I cannot begin to get my head around it.

And then goes to a sports analogy, which is perfect timing for me as I will sit for hours everyday for the next two weeks watching the 2016 Summer Olympics.

I tried to figure out parts of the essay to cut and paste here to give you a flavor for it, but it needs to be read in its entirety.  I will give you the last paragraph, however:

People who would plan an economy, or even regulate an industry, commit the cardinal sin against sound economics: believing that they can consciously improve that which they cannot hope to know. Just as it is utterly ridiculous for me to imagine that I can learn to pitch merely by studying videotapes of Greg Maddux, it is equally ridiculous for politicians or bureaucrats to imagine that they can improve upon the free market with knowledge only of the tiny part they are able to observe. Such conceit is toxic for a free society.


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