Notes Book


Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, yet it is something we must all try to do.

We all face decisions every day that require us to try to predict the consequences of our actions. We must choose careers, mates, homes, etc. We know that we will live with the consequences of these decisions in our future. Our present comfort level is result of decisions made in the past.

We can reliably predict some things. We know with great precision when the sun will rise every day, but we have trouble predicting the behavior of teens, for example.

The social success of an individual depends to a great extent on her ability to predict the future, and this also applies to groups. A group that has a better ability to predict the future has a greater chance of success.

If a group is trying to achieve something, they have a much greater chance if everyone involved shares the goal. In most honest business enterprises, this is not a great problem. Criminal enterprises, on the other hand, do have a problem because, by definition, some players in the transaction have a strong interest in derailing the plan. The victim of a mugging would much prefer that the mugger not succeed in the robbery attempt. And some of the criminals may want more than their share. Any criminal enterprise has a much lower chance of success than an honest voluntary transaction.

Non-voluntary transactions have a lower probability of going as planned. Note that this rule applies to both government and private transactions, and it explains, for example, why the drug war has been a failure.

The buyers and sellers of drugs have a shared goal. Neither buyer nor seller has a motive to disrupt the transaction. Drug law enforcers and drug sellers and buyers have conflicting goals. Because drug law enforcers can't rely on the cooperation of everyone involved, they have much greater trouble predicting the future. Note that according to the definition used here, drug sale and purchase are not criminal acts, but prohibition is.

The same analysis applies to most government enterprises. The reason the State is inefficient is not just that central planners can't have enough information. Coercion creates uncertainty. Government planners operate in a fog of uncertainty created by coercion. Less coercive organizations can more effectively coordinate the efforts of more people over longer periods of time. Some non-coercive organizations also employ some degree of central planning, but they do it more effectively because everyone involved has at least some degree of enthusiasm for the common goals.

Governments last for a few hundred years at most; churches can last for thousands of years.

Crime doesn't pay, no matter how many uniforms you wear or how much paperwork you do.