Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Idea Intolerable To Modern Man

But when developments take an undesirable turn, the suggestion that this is not the effect of circumstances beyond our control, but the necessary consequence of our earlier decisions, is rejected with scorn. The idea that we are not fully free to pick and choose whatever combination of features we wish our society to possess, or to fit them together into a viable whole, that is, that we cannot build a desirable social order like a mosaic by selecting whatever particular parts we like best, and that many well-intentioned measures may have a long train of unforeseeable and undesirable consequences seems to be intolerable to modern man." [Law, Legislation and Liberty, vol 1, Rules and Order]
Hmm, seems to me this idea that is intolerable to modern man is one of the basic insights of economics. No wonder so few people seem interested in economics, and no wonder so few who study some economics come away with much understanding about the consequences of public policy for the world around them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hayek on American Constitutionalism

When Montesquieu and the framers of the American Constitution articulated the conception of a limiting constitution that had grown up in England, they set a pattern which liberal constitutionalism has followed ever since. Their chief aim was to provide institutional safeguards of individual freedom; and the device in which they placed their faith was the separation of powers. In the form in which we know this division of power between the legislature, the judiciary, and the administration, it has not achieved what it was meant to achieve. Governments everywhere have obtained by constitutional means powers which those men had meant to deny them. The first attempt to secure individual liberty by constitutions has evidently failed. [Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 1: Rules and Order, p. 1]
Does this seem correct? If so, are there any means by which limited government might be achieved?