The Pretense of Knowledge

Here is a letter I recently sent to the Midland Daily News:

James Benjamin’s entire letter went as follows: “The solution is simple: Medicare for all; keep your private insurance if you want” (“Simple Solutions,” February 17).

Society is a complex outcome that emerges as a result of individuals interacting with one another. No single individual consciously plans its course. As a result, no one fully understands this complex outcome we call society. Government interventions into the society must, therefore, create unintended consequences that no individual is capable of foreseeing. Simply providing Medicare to all will necessarily generate more outcomes than just free health care for everyone.

Nobel Laureate economist F.A. Hayek, in his Nobel Prize Lecture The Pretense of Knowledge, clearly articulated this point in his concluding paragraph: “The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society – a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.”

Kurt Bouwhuis


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