Arnold Kling: The Era of Expert Failure

Congress has enacted sweeping legislation in health care and finance, and Democratic leaders have equally ambitious agendas that envision placing greater trust in experts to manage energy and the environment, education and human capital, and transportation and communications infrastructure.

However, equally striking is the failure of such experts. They failed to prevent the financial crisis, they failed to stimulate the economy to create jobs, they have failed in Massachusetts to hold down the cost of health care, and sometimes they have failed to prevent terrorist attacks that instead had to be thwarted by ordinary civilians.

In a complex, decentralized economy:

We should try to resist the temptation to give power to government experts, and instead allow experts in business and nonprofit institutions to grope toward solutions to problems.
. . .
It is unlikely that we will be able to greatly improve the quality of government experts.

Instead, if we wish to reduce the knowledge-power discrepancy, we need to be willing to allow private-sector experts to grope toward solutions to problems, rather than place unwarranted faith in experts backed by the power of the state.

Here. Rule by experts is also known as technocracy.

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