Spontaneous order is found in things far more complex than skating rinks. Language is useful, flexible -- and hair-raisingly complicated. No one constructed it. But when someone tried to build the perfect language, Esperanto, it flopped.
Communism was adopted by more countries than Esperanto, but it also failed because planners never could anticipate the myriad wants of different people. Russians spent hours a day in lines. Millions starved.
The only times we have shortages in America are after governments intrude, like when President Nixon appointed an energy czar to regulate gas prices, and this year, when some states' anti-"gouging" laws prevented gas stations from raising prices after storms.
Despite the repeated failure of central planning, the political class acts as if politicians can direct our lives. When there are problems, politicians will solve them. They're going to give us prosperity and cheap health care, fix education, lower gas prices, stop global warming and make us energy "independent."
And that's just the beginning. A speaker at the Republic convention said, "If you want to fight childhood obesity, then John is your man."
Who do people think these guys are?
"We actually think that some people can do magic," says David Boaz of the Cato Institute. "Voters would have to believe that every politician is some combination of Superman, Santa Claus and Mother Teresa. Superman because he can do anything. Santa Claus because he's going to give us things.
"It's kind of an instinctive reaction," says Boaz. "But a president can't fix all the problems in your life."
That's OK. Most of life works best when you are in charge.
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