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The Fatal Conceit, once again, appears before us…

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 7:43
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This may be nothing more than a turn of a phrase and thus a minor annoyance. If so, I don’t know if it is worthy of a full post, but here we go anyway. Trump says he is leaving the business world to work full time in his new day job.

“I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my,” Trump wrote on social media, breaking his announcement up into multiple posts. “Great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to ….do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

That is mostly appropriate and innocuous. There is one part that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to my ear, however. It is this…

“…in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

I will just cut to the chase. This guy isn’t going to “run the country” and he shouldn’t be saying he is. Nobody runs the country. The country, for the most part, runs itself via a hundred billion decisions a day by 330 million people.

The idea that anyone can “run the country” is a form of leftist jackassery F.A. Hayak called the “Fatal Conceit” about which he famously said, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

Every morning in my podunk town in Iowa, fresh bread, fresh milk and fresh doughnuts are delivered to the local Casey’s General Store. They do it every day and never miss a day. All across America, before dawn, bakers are making bread and it is sent out in trucks to a million locations in every corner of the nation. Gasoline is delivered, ATMs are filled with cash, cement mixers head out, coffee shops receive shipments, credit card transactions occur, new cars are transported, steel gets delivered, taxi drivers head out and on and on and on. The whole list of the economic transactions occurring in any given moment would fill a library.

Literally tens of billions of economic decisions and transactions occur every day in America. A flow chart plotting this reality would crash the biggest mainframe computer devised by man. Millions of transactions and decisions are made every minute of every day. Some are based on logic and programming, some are based on nothing more than human whim and emotion: Do I want a doughnut this morning or just coffee? There is no centralized control structure dictating how each of us should behave. Localized interactions between individual and group entities lead to the emergence of “intelligent” global behavior that is incomprehensible to individuals.

Market economies create a spontaneous order; a more efficient allocation of societal resources than any human plan could ever come close to achieving. This spontaneous order has created virtually all of the wealth, health, education, comfort, recreation and quality of life we enjoy today. The market economy is why humans no longer hunt and gather in tiny, family groups.

The idea that a country can be effectively and efficiently “run” by a man or even the centralized bureaucracy of a massive administrative government is indeed a conceit and it is indeed fatal. This conceit is behind the failure of socialism wherever it is tried. It is the conceit that looks to be fatal to the economy of Venezuela.

No man runs the country. Every second hundreds of millions of decisions and transactions occur in a cloud of organized chaos that is based on individual motivations that no human and no computer could ever understand, replicate or organize. Any radical change to the system, any attempt to control it, any attempt to “fundamentally transform” it is doomed to fail. It would be impossible to model, control or even comprehend effects of change.

We witnessing the failure of the Obama Administration to “run the country”. We will witness it again if Donald Trump believes that he can do better than Obama what no man can do. Obamacare is collapsing into a pile of socialist rubble because a few arrogant people thought they could better organize the nation than the organic organization of market forces.

Let’s pray that Trump’s arrogant comment was just hyperbole.


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