Yes, Hayek’s “Pretense of Knowledge“.
The hubris of those who “know”, be it the central planners or others whose unique and complex mathematical formulas and calculations can create the proper combinations of resources and capital structures is destructive to say the least. The impossibility of this is so obvious yet never seems to occur to the planners. Case in point:
The argument in Washington about extending the “Bush tax cuts” revolves around how much the cuts will “cost”. First, cutting taxation is never a cost, as not stealing something hardly counts as an expenditure. Unless of course we’re talking about the state, then yes, theft is a legitimate activity, and yes, not stealing is loss.
Nonetheless, how do they “know” that the cuts will mean $700 billion in less tax revenue? It is impossible to determine. They do not know, can not know and certainly with such precision. The answer is again their formulas and models, which never fail, except when they do. And fail they always do.
Likewise, the $41 trillion in new spending (projected) is again based on their mathematical formulas which as we know are always correct, except when they’re not. And wrong they always are.
I agree that the marginally less theft will have a trivial impact on the future federal budget when compared to the massive expenditures, as well as the unfunded liabilities added on top. That’s not the point. The point being that there is simply no way to determine in any fashion the exact amount or something even remotely close.
That is the pretense of knowledge. Any numbers you hear, from any side in the debate will be wrong. Always, and by a large degree. The only solution is simply less: taxation, spending, and in general, government.
The first step would be to simply admit that and realize that the postivist models are what is the problem.