- Sep 16, 2010
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
The government can't know how much you value something before you buy it.
If the knowledge problem identified by Mises and Hayek make rational central planning impossible for something as simple as a quart of milk, what chance do central planners have to make rational, effective plans for something as complex and difficult as educating the children of a diverse nation of more than 300 million? - Kevin D. Williamson, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism
Given that our public sector is a command economy (aka "socialism"), because of its fatal flaw, it's a given that the government will supply the wrong quantities of public goods...In addition, only the individual can comprehend (albeit imperfectly) the trade-offs that he is willing to make between the things he wants now and in the future. Only the individual can understand before the fact what he is willing to forgo for a product as simple as an apple; only the individual knows under what circumstances he prefers to eat an apple. - Richard B. McKenzie, Bound to Be Free
Why would you want the government to supply the wrong amount of defense, education, environmental protection or any other good? Deviations from the optimal amounts make society worse off.Voting and other democratic procedures can help to produce information about the demand for public goods, but these processes are unlikely to work as well at providing the optimal amounts of public goods as do markets at providing the optimal amounts of private goods. Thus, we have more confidence that the optimal amount of toothpaste is purchased every year ($2.3 billion worth in recent years) than the optimal amount of defense spending ($549 billion) or the optimal amount of asteroid deflection (close to $0). In some cases, we could get too much of the public good with many people being forced riders and in other cases we could get too little of the public good. - Tyler Cowen, Alex Tabarrok, Modern Principles of Economics