Dynamist Blog


Kuro5shin reviews The Future and Its Enemies, along with Naomi Klein's No Logo. There are some odd moments in the review, notably the equation of specialization with "a strange kind of Factory Man life-long commitment to a single task." Learning to do some things well, rather than trying to do everything from raising food to making semiconductors, hardly means doing only one thing. And it definitely doesn't imply boredom. It's far more interesting to do the things you enjoy and are good at than to try to do everything. I'd much rather be a writer than a subsistence farmer, thank you very much.

But that comment is not nearly as strange as the commenter who thinks I don't believe in externalities or bounded rationality, when I not only believe in both but devote an entire chapter of the book to the limits of human knowledge (hence, btw, the value of specialization). I even quote Mr. Bounded Rationality himself, Herbert Simon, though on a different subject. I think what he actually means is that I don't believe Joseph Stiglitz should run the everyone's life.

The review makes the correct point that my book mostly discusses the United States--which is why I never even sold British Commonwealth rights. That, too, is something I chalk up to bounded rationality. Rather than spend a couple of decades learning about the rest of the world--or, worse, doing what a lot of writers do and pretending to know things I don't--I stuck to what I knew. But, no, I don't think French technocracy is a particularly attractive model, though the French can have it if they're willing to pay the price in lost liberty, prosperity, and, ultimately, power.

Thanks to Julian Sanchez on Hit and Run for the heads-up.

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