Knowledge and Decisions är full med viktiga teoretiska resonemang. Här är de citat som jag tyckte gav mest "Ah!"-känsla.
The most basic of all decisions is who shall decide. This is easily lost sight of in discussions that proceed directly to the merits of particular issues, as if they could be judged from a unitary, or God's eye, viewpoint. A more human perspective must recognize the respective advantages and disadvantages of different decisions-making processes, including their widely varying costs of knowledge, which is a central consideration often overlooked in analyses which proceed as if knowledge were either complete, costless, or of a "given" quantity. Decision-making processes differ not only in the quantity, quality, and cost of knowledge brought to bear initially, but also and perhaps still more so, in the feedback of knowledge and its effectiveness in modifying the initial decision. This feedback is not only additional knowledge, but knowledge of a different kind. It is direct knowledge of particulars of time and place, as distinguished from the secondhand generalities knows as "expertise". The high personal cost of acquiring expertise, and the opportunities it presents for displaying individual talent or genius, make it a more dramatic form of knowledge, but not necessarily a more important form of knowledge from a decision-making point of view. (s. 40-41)
To those who feel that their values are the values, the less controlled systems necessarily present a spectacle of "chaos", simply because such systems respond to a diversity of values. The more successfully such systems respond to diversity, the more "chaos" there will be, by definition, according to the standards of any specific set of values - other than diversity of freedom as values. (s. 43)
Efficiency in turning inputs into outputs can be measured only after specifying the subjective values involved. (s. 52)
Sometimes the choice between cultural and individual decision making is a choice between "feelings" and articulated rationality. Given the imperfections of language and the limitations of specific evidence, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that the mere formally logical articulation is in fact more rational, much less empirically correct. When the choice between the two processes is not within one individual but between one individual and another (or between one group and another), it is even less likely that the more articulate position is the more valid position. (s. 102)
In this way, there is a created the social equivalent of the economic agent who is a residual claimant and therefore can function with social effectiveness as an "unmonitored monitor." ... The concept of an "unmonitored monitor" with a broad mandate may seem dubious as a way of getting a job done. Articulated specifics (job description, organizational rules, etc.) enforced by tiers of monitors are much more rationalistic. However, the ultimate question is not plausibility but results. Unmonitored monitors are among the most hard-working and dedicated people in the society. Mothers and businessman are classic examples. In their very different ways, these two unmonitored monitors have become notorious for the intensity and duration of their efforts, and are often admonished to "take it easy" by those closest to them, even though the latter are often the beneficiaries of their efforts. (s. 111-112)
Det är värt att noter att det Sowell kritiserar ovan som "rationalistiskt" är högdragna individers självsäkerhet till sina egna resonemang som låter logiska men som inte behöver vara det. Inte faktisk logik, som Sowell själv presenterar väldigt väl.
Choice through the ballot box has often been equated with choice through the market. But inherent constraints mean that democratic governments have no wider array of options to offer than anyone else - regardless of what options many may believe to exist - and that one crucial difference between ballots and prices is that prices convey effective knowledge of inherent constraints, while ballots do not. If I desire a Rolls Royce and simultaneously a normal standard of living, the price tag on the automobile immediately informs, convinces, and virtually coerces me to the conclusion that these two things are inconsistent. But if I believe simultaneously in a large military arsenal, low taxes, a balanced budget, and massive social programs, there are no constraints on my voting that way. (s. 119-120)
Kolla även in David Friedmans analys av val i en demokrati vs. marknad i The Machinery of Freedom, i kapitlet "Buckshot for a socialist friend".
There are various authentication processes, ranging from consensual approval to scientific proof, and a virtually limitless variety of institutional processes for carrying out this authentication, or weeding.out, process. The fragmentary nature of social knowledge means that the authentication and feedback must involve numerous individuals, and that they must be connected by some system of mutual incentives and constraints. Feedback which can be safely ignored by decision makers is not socially effective knowledge. Effective feedback does not mean the mere articulation of information, but the implicit transmission of others' knowledge in the explicit form of effective incentives to the recipients. A corporation's profit and loss statement or a baby's whimpers are such transmissions. Both galvanize people into action in response to other people's feelings, even though one is articulated and the other not. It is the effectiveness of the incentive transmission, not the explicit articulation, that is crucial. (s. 150)
Min blogg ger förhoppningsvis ut effektiv kunskap på lång sikt... :-)
The term "minimum wage" law defines the process by its hoped-for results. But the law itself does not guarantee that any wage will be paid, because employment remains a voluntary transaction. All that the law does is reduce the set of options available to both transactors. Once the law is defined by its characteristics as a process rather than by its hoped-for results, it is hardly surprising that there are fewer transactions (i.e., more unemployment) with reduced options. What is perhaps more surprising is the persistence and scope of the belief that people can be made better off by reducing their options. In the case of the so-called minimum wage law, the empirical evidence has been growing that it not only increases unemployment, but that it does so among the most disadvantaged workers. (s. 173)
Min kursivering ovan; den insikten gäller även på andra områden, som förbud av prostitution eller bordeller, där folk hänvisar till hur illa det är ställt för de prostituerade.
Much articulation goes into trying to demonstrate to third party observers that the forcible transfers lead to more beneficial results. Yet on general principle, it is not clear that articulation is the best mode for weighing alternative values or that third party observers are the best judges. When a given set of homes and businesses are destroyed to make way for a very different set of homes and businesses, as in "urban renewal," a truly greater value of the second set would have enabled their users (or financial intermediaries) to bid the land away from the original users through voluntary market competition without the use of force by the government (especially since the second set of users almost invariably has higher incomes than the first). (s. 192)