Markets: Plan A or Plan B?

In an aside to an article on genetic determinism, The National Review comments on markets and the limits of information science (Manzi, Jim, “Undetermined,” vol. LX, no. 10, 2 June 2008, pp. 26-32):

In the middle of the 20th century, Friedrich Hayek and the libertarians he inspired faced those who asserted that the economy could be successfully planned. The libertarian position was not that such planning could be proved impossible in theory, but that we lacked sufficient information and processing power to accomplish it. The world of economic interaction was so complex that it overwhelms out ability to render it predictable; hence the need for markets to set prices.

I don’t for a moment believe that the Libertarian Party will disband once we cross some floating point operation threshold on supercomputers. There is the practical and there is the principled reason for subscribing to the libertarian position and I have read some of its proponents specifically state that even if the command economy could deliver superior performance, they would still be libertarians because of the component of human freedom.

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