Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Vision of The Anointed Central Planners

Kip’s Law: Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.

Via Craig Newmark

Related quotes from Thomas Sowell's book "The Vision Of The Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy":

In their haste to be wiser and nobler than others, the anointed have misconceived two basic issues. They seem to assume: (1) that they have more knowledge than the average member of the benighted, and (2) that this is the relevant comparison. The real comparison, however, is not between the knowledge possessed by the average member of the educated elite versus the average member of the general public, but rather the total direct knowledge brought to bear though social processes (the competition of the marketplace, social sorting, etc.), involving millions of people, versus the secondhand knowledge of generalities possessed by a smaller elite group.

The presumed irrationality of the public is a pattern running through many, if not most or all, of the great crusades of the anointed in the twentieth century--regardless of the subject matter of the crusade or the field in which it arises. Whether the issue has been 'overpopulation,' Keynesian economics, criminal justice, or natural resource exhaustion, a key assumption has been that the public is so irrational that the superior wisdom of the anointed must be imposed, in order to avert disaster. The anointed do not simply happen to have a disdain for the public. Such disdain is an integral part of their vision, for the central feature of that vision is preemption of the decisions of others.

The vision of the anointed is one in which ills as poverty, irresponsible sex, and crime derive primarily from 'society,' rather than from individual choices and behavior. To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by 'society'.

The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?


At 9/18/2008 10:00 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

The SEC just banned short selling.

That along with many of the other measures the government has taken this week means we no longer live in a capitalist nation. We in fact live in a more socialist nation than any in Europe.

And you trying to defend it means you not a free market capitalist either.

At 9/18/2008 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We in fact live in a more socialist nation than any in Europe.

No we live in a banana republic and as we wind down the road to serfdom the tentacles of government will only grow stronger.

At 9/19/2008 12:12 AM, Blogger macpjs29 said...

Excellent point and very similar to one made by the columnist George Will in his article entitled "Condescensional Wisdom" (Washington Post,May 4, 2006):

"Galbraith brought to the anti-conformity chorus a special verve in depicting Americans as pathetic, passive lumps, as manipulable as clay. Americans were what modern liberalism relishes — victims, to be treated as wards of a government run by liberals. It never seemed to occur to Galbraith and like-minded liberals that ordinary Americans might resent that depiction and might express their resentment with their votes.”

At 9/19/2008 12:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like Goldilocks lied.

At 9/19/2008 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uncle Sam is paternalistic. Why do we call them the Founding FATHERS? When the kids screw up he bails them out. In a market economy, one question is, "To what degree does Uncle Sam intervene?". Would we consider parents irresponsible if they didn't try to keep the children from killing themselves?

US capitalism died in 1913 with the Sixteenth Amendment following the Panic of 1893 and the Panic of 1907. The 1930's are replete with government interventions. The dot com bubble led to Sarbanes-Oxley. And the housing bubble of 2007 led to the current banking crisis.

Our apparent fear of a truly free market will no doubt lead to further interventions and regulations. Uncle Sam is more than willing to assuage that fear. Financially at least, safety, security, and orderliness seem to trump everything else.

At 9/19/2008 8:04 AM, Blogger DB said...

It's interesting that so many outspoken individuals were very vocal in their opposition to the Patriot Act but swallow whole, this idea of the government protecting us from ourselves during a "financial crisis" as completely acceptable.

What I think is funny, is that those who opposed national security via the Patriot Act were fond of using Ben Franklin's quote, "They who would give up liberty for security deserve neither...". The implication, of course, is that personal security was not a sufficient tradeoff against their freedom.

Isn't this really the same dilemma? Are we willing to give up our economic liberties for what the government promises will be added economic security? Just curious as to what others might think about that.

At 9/19/2008 9:29 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...


What economic liberties do we really have minus the government? I carry a piece of paper with green ink in my billfold that has no intrinsic value. The dollar’s value is chiefly determined by those who evaluate our political and not our economic polices. Are you suggesting a strict barter system to replace government intervention in our lives?

At 9/19/2008 9:56 AM, Blogger DB said...

Walt G.
No. I was just thinking out loud about the crowd which cried foul at government intervention for our "protection" vis a vis the Patriot Act while inadvertently many of those same individuals call on the government to do something (i.e. regulate,set price/wage controls, etc.)which trammel the economic freedoms of certain market players under the guise of providing added economic security.

It's not an endorsement for the Patriot Act or for government intervention into the national economy. Just wondered what others thought of the similarities/differences.

At 9/19/2008 10:32 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...


I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but my point is the government does not just interfere with the economy--they are the economy. Remove the government and your dollar bils are only worth the BTUs they release when you burn them to keep warm.

At 9/19/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> And you trying to defend it means you not a free market capitalist either.

? Where is Dr. Perry defending it?

This comment makes no sense.

> We in fact live in a more socialist nation than any in Europe.

This is a ridiculous statement. Yes, for sure, we have far too much socialism and collectivism going on, but this claim is either completely ignorant of most of the conditions of business operations in Western Europe, or a flat-out, knowing lie.

There are a few places where we have more government control than Europe. A few. Not many.

At 9/19/2008 2:46 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Why do we call them the Founding FATHERS?

uh, 'cause they were MEN?

Hint: A little over the top on the rhetoric.

> Financially at least, safety, security, and orderliness seem to trump everything else.

We've been dealing with the idiot Boomers. They've been blinkered on security and safety for their entire lives. A clueless lot, that bunch.

> vis a vis the Patriot Act while inadvertently many of those same individuals call on the government to do something

Where in God's name have you been hanging out that you see much of that? MMost of the people who support the PA are, in general, against the government intervening, or, as I've noted, take the position of Varifrank:

As a taxpayer, I'm just asking, as a capitalist, I'm appalled, as a shareholder, I'm furious

Now, I say this as a complete capitalist, but if a business gets so large that its failure would collapse the market( Like AIG is purported to be), then is it fair to say that the business should be broken up by the government to keep that from happening?

"Too big to fail" should not be "Taxpayers pick up the tab". If you are too big to fail, maybe we need to make you a little smaller.

That goes for you too GM...

That sorta calls for government intervention, but it seems like the most legitimate usage of the ICC in over a century.

I tend to concur -- if it's "too big to fail", it should be "too big to remain as a single entity".

We should not be in this situation, a large chunk of which is certainly government-caused, but companies should not be allowed to combine and combine until they represent too large a piece of the power structure to allow them to fail if they massively screw the pooch. THAT is also a big part of the free market -- you screw up, you go down the tubes. *Insert Coin*.

When a company becomes so large that "allowing it to fail" will bring down properly managed companies in supposed competition with them, then that company is too large and needs to be broken up.

At 9/19/2008 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sure describes Al Gore.

At 9/19/2008 9:51 PM, Anonymous qt said...

Ah, but when push comes to shove, in the clinches when a crisis comes along, we are all Keynesians.

The stakes are too high to just do nothing. Nothing will come of nothing.

Although we may not be comfortable with the central planning model, in a crisis, congress does not act quickly enough. Actions by technocrats in the FED and Treasury are not only necessary but imperative under the circumstances. There is little viable alternative.

Chances are the credit crunch will not go away anytime soon.


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