The curse of social engineering and dark-age economic policies

Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University, in what seems to be a response to Obama’s State of the Union Speech:

… just as peddlers of snake oil, Ponzi schemes, sugar tablets labeled ‘diet pill,’ and penis-enlargement treatments do personally profit from their victims’ gullibility, superstitions, and desire to believe that reality can be suspended, so, too, do peddlers of the likes of minimum-wage legislation, Keynesian ‘cures,’ and ‘income redistribution’ profit personally from widespread economic ignorance and too-many people’s desire to have their economic woes, real or imagined, ‘solved’ by god-like miracle workers housed in government offices.  History has no shortage of ‘leaders’ who’ve profited (and, to this day, continue to profit) handsomely from selling social-engineering snake oil to the general public.

With so many eager buyers and so many eager sellers, dark-age* economic policies will always be with us.

*dark-agish in the original.

Professor Boudreaux characterizes what he wrote as an “utterly banal thought,” but while it might be obvious and boring to that small group of specialists in the observance of human folly that he is writing to, it could be profoundly insightful to the foolish herd that live their lives believing all sorts of nonsense supported by unexamined premises, if only they would indulge themselves.

The human condition of economic ignorance may not be limited to those unschooled in the dismal science.  I once talked to a woman near the end of a PhD program in economics at a university in Switzerland (I forget which).  For some reason I happened to drop the name of Friedrich Hayek, probably in a bout of cant on my part. As the conversation proceeded it became clear she had never heard of him.  I have dismissed the possibility that she was putting me on.

Read all of Professor’s Boudreaux’s comments on the curse of social engineering.