Thomas Sowell

As they replaced central planning with more reliance on markets, their countries' economic growth rate almost invariably increased, often dramatically. In the largest and most recent examples-- China and India-- people by the millions have risen above these countries' official poverty rates, after they freed their economies from many of their suffocating government controls.

China, where famines have repeatedly ravaged the country, now has a problem of obesity-- not a good thing in itself, but a big improvement over famines.

This has implications far beyond economics. Think about it: How was it even possible that transferring decisions from elites with more education, intellect, data and power to ordinary people could lead consistently to demonstrably better results?

One implication is that no one is smart enough to carry out social engineering, whether in the economy or in other areas where the results may not always be so easily quantifiable. We learn, not from our initial brilliance, but from trial and error adjustments to events as they unfold.

Science tells us that the human brain reaches its maximum potential in early adulthood. Why then are young adults so seldom capable of doing what people with more years of experience can do?

Because experience trumps brilliance.

Elites may have more brilliance, but those who make decisions for society as a whole cannot possibly have as much experience as the millions of people whose decisions they preempt. The education and intellects of the elites may lead them to have more sweeping presumptions, but that just makes them more dangerous to the freedom, as well as the well-being, of the people as a whole.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate