Saturday, August 07, 2004

What Ash-heap of History?

Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution says:
I have yet to see a good argument for creating a new director of intelligence. It's true that the intelligence agencies failed to share information. But an epi-central director of intelligence doesn't solve that problem and may make it worse. The implicit model of the 9/11 Commission is command and control -- move all the information from the roots of the tree to the top of tree and then one all-encompassing-mind will evaluate it and make the right decision. Does that model sound familiar? Sure it does, that's the model of economic planning that is currently lying on the ash-heap of history.
Tabarrok is right in principle about centralization, but I think he's partly wrong in saying that the centralized "model of economic currently lying on the ash-heap of history."

Let's take the United States, just to make it personal. It's true that there's no central office for economic planning and control. But there are several cabinet departments, several more so-called independent agencies, thousands of State and local agencies, and hundreds of congressional, State, and local legislative committees that together regulate a large chunk of economic activity in the United States. It's no worse than the "all-encompassing-mind" of centralized economic planning, but neither is it any better.