Arnold Kling and Russ Roberts
By Arnold Kling
We discuss his new book, The Price of Everything, and spontaneous order vs. central planning and design. Perhaps the most interesting part of the discussion concerns the issue of how to view political decisions. One tends to view them as top-down designs. In fact, that is part of the Austrian critique of the political process–that it is inferior to the spontaneous order that emerges in markets.
However, particularly over time, political decisions look less and less like grand designs. They dissolve into the overall emergent order.
Meanwhile, within the market people and businesses work with designs and plans. If I could use a metaphor (not used in the podcast), the emergent order is like a pool, and the plans of businesses are like rocks tossed into the pool. They cause some disturbances, but the pool settles down in its own way. The plans of government may work similarly. We want to pretend that the government can transform the pool into any shape it chooses. In fact, it can only toss in rocks, just like anyone else.