Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shlaes on social justice

“Welfare,” the word we used for the program, likewise became stigmatized. President Bill Clinton signed the law that abolished the program, sending a signal that work is better for the country and individual than a dole, relief or insurance.
Eventually, those phrases we utter now “insurance extension,” “mandatory health care at the workplace” also will be dropped from the language in shame. But of course, by then the damage will have been done.

File this under the category of unsurprising perverse consequences of collectivist activity in society. As I am reading Law, Legislation and Liberty it becomes clear that efforts to legislate the evolution or process the Hayek refers to as spontaneous order leads to, what Shlaes correctly calls "damage". This damage is multidimensional and effects current and long term processes in society, changing the path or evolution of social orders in ways that no one can predict or understand. Thus the knowledge problem is evident again and, Hayek's telling of the story of rationalism resonates with both explanatory power - there really is an attraction to what he calls constructivist rationalism (Hayek's colleague Popper called this naive rationalism - which I think is a deft phrase) by many in society.

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