William Easterly, former Senior Adviser at the Macroeconomics and Growth Division of the World Bank, is the proprietor of AidWatch, an extremely well-done economics blog. Today Easterly does an exceptional job of articulating the mischaracterizations scholars like Francis Fukuyama have attributed to F.A. von Hayek.
Hayek’s view of knowledge was that it was partial and dispersed among many. The market gave individuals the incentives to apply this knowledge, and coordinated the uses of this local knowledge in a way that rewards each of us who knows best about any particular narrow area. Government usually lacks both the incentives and the coordination mechanism. In government we don’t know who knows best, so which knowledge wins the argument could often be wrong. … To sum up, Hayek’s skepticism about government was NOT based on his certainty, as Fukuyama would have it, but on his awareness of his ignorance. (and everyone else’s)
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