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.

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