This post is from the archives. It was originally posted on November 16, 2013. I am posting it again for two reasons. First, because I am really proud of it. 🙂 Secondly, I am posting because it is background for another post that I have queued up for later today.
“What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” ~Obama, 11/14/13
If schadenfreude was corn flakes, last week would have been General Mills. For four years conservatives have been telling the world exactly what would happen with the implementation of Obamacare and, by golly, it is happening. It turns out that a bunch of Ivy League trained apparatchiks cannot, in fact, stay up all night and, between bong hits, effectively reorder the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Last week, the leftist belief that central planning can make you a better person ran headlong into the iron laws of economics. It was a beautiful thing.
F.A. Hayak called their jackassery the “Fatal Conceit” and famously said, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” Last week was just such a demonstration.
To understand the Fatal Conceit, let’s talk about honey bees. Honey bees are able to do some pretty amazing things. They can form swarms and move from place to place, they can form hives, they can divide labor, they can care for and feed their queen, they can find pollen and communicate its location to other bees based on the position of the sun, they can heat and cool their hive as necessary, they can build wax combs, they can make and store honey, they can care for larva and much more. Bees are pretty amazing. It’s like they have this whole, complicated social industrial complex.
The thing is, no bee can go into business for himself. No bee brain contains an understanding of how to do all of the things listed above. Yet, as a group, they do it. Complex bee behaviors are accomplished through a principle called “hive mind”. While no bee can organize the hive, all of the bees together can. There was no plan for the bees, no blueprint, no white papers, no legislation, no bureaucracy and no Ivy League elites producing five year plans. Bees, somehow, know how to run the hive not individually, but across the minds of thousands of bees. The knowledge to run the hive is distributed. There is no centralized control structure dictating how individual bees should behave. Localized interactions between bees lead to the emergence of “intelligent” global behavior that is incomprehensible to individual bees. It isn’t just bees that have access to the hive mind, however.
More below the fold…