Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Can't We Learn from Past Mistakes?

Thomas Sowell is a distinguished scholar and economist based at the Hoover Institution in California. He's the author of many useful books and a nationally syndicated columnist. His analyses of current events, and political and economic problems and trends, is always accurate and helpful. He is a fountainhead of common sense in a world where many prominent people often appear out of touch with reality.

In a recent column, Professor Sowell commented on how many wonderful-sounding ideas that have been tried as government policies have failed disastrously. He points out that, because few people bother to study history, these same bad policies are repeated again and again, with the same disastrous results. One of these bad ideas is that wise and far-sighted people should take control and plan economic and social policies so that there will be a rational and just economic and social order, rather than the chaos that results when events are allowed to take their own course. This has been believed for centuries.

But central planning has always been a terrible failure, producing misery, shame and finally bloodshed. Economic central planning has been tried in many countries, at many times, with many different cultures, with governments ranging from democracies to dictatorships. The people who ran central planning agencies usually had more advanced education than the rest of the population, probably higher IQs, access to more information and specialists, and the power of government to enforce their ideas. But they didn't succeed.

That's because no one is smart enough to carry out social engineering. Dr. Sowell concludes that the elites may be smarter, but experience trumps brilliance, and the little band of elites who want to run our lives cannot do as good a job as the millions of people whose decisions they overrule.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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