• Don't Trust Your Instincts

      On my show last week - clips of it are here - I argued that our instincts about politics and economics are generally wrong.

      A most dangerous aspect of that is this: When a problem comes up: people instinctively think that government should do something. There ought to be a law!

      In my syndicated column, I explore how these bad intuitions come from the way humans evolved:

      As Friedrich Hayek pointed out in "The Fatal Conceit," it's a problem that in our complex, extended economy, we rely on instincts developed during our ancestors' existence in small bands. In those old days, everyone knew everyone else, so affairs could be micromanaged. Today, we live in a global economy where strangers deal with each other. The rules need to be different.

      If voters thought about it more, they might realize that the economy is too complex for any politician or group of bureaucrats to manage. But they don't think too hard about it, because, as economist Bryan Caplan points out, they have lives.

      Caplan points out that average citizens have no incentive to become informed, while special interests do. The rest of us have lives. We are busy with things other than politics. That's why our democratic government inflates the price of sugar through trade restrictions, even though American sugar consumers far outnumber American sugar producers...

      If you vote for a candidate while ignorant about issues, you'll pay no more than a tiny fraction of the price of your ignorance. Not so in your private affairs. If you're dumb when you buy a car, you get stuck with a bad car. You get punished right away.

      For more on how our instinct leads us wrong, read the rest of the column or watch the show clips.

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      Syndicated Column