From South Bend Seven come a couple of comments I liked today. The first was on the Left and current budget plans:
If I was on the Left I would look at these figures and then begin to think long and hard about whether knee-jerk opposition to things like Medicare block grants or defined-contribution public pensions is such a good idea. The biggest threat to redistribution to the poor is existing redistribution to the old.
To the last sentence, I would add "and redistribution to upper middle class public sector workers." I am constantly amazed at the Left's drop-dead defense of above-market pay and benefits for public sector workers. This already reduces funding for things like actual classroom instruction and infrastructure improvements, and almost certainly the looming public pension crisis will reduce resources for an array of programs much loved by the Left.
The second observation relates to a favorite topic of mine, on technocracy:
Often enough I think "you know, we need more scientists in charge of things." Then I remember that the scientists we get are Steven Chu and I think "yeah, maybe not so much."
Then I think about all the abominable committee meetings and discussion sessions I've been in with scientists and I think "perhaps best not to put scientists in charge."
Then I look over at my bookshelf, notice my cope of The Machinery of Freedom, and think "why are we putting anybody in charge at all?"
If this Administration has any one theme, it is a total confidence that a few people imposing solutions and optimizations top-down is superior to bottom-up or emergent solutions. Even the recent memo on targeted killings reflects this same philosophy, that one man with a few smart people in the White House can make better life-or-death decisions than all that messy stuff with courts and lawyers. Those of us who understand our Hayek know that superior top-down decision-making is impossible, given that the decision-makers can never have the information or incentives to make the best decisions for complex systems, and because they tend to impose one single objective function when in fact we are a nation of individuals with 300 million different objective functions. But the drone war / targeted killing memo demonstrates another problem: technocrats hate due process. Due process for them is just time-wasting review by lesser mortals of their decisions. Just look at how Obama views Congress, or the courts.