Progressives can't get past the Knowledge Problem

Waxman and his colleagues in Congress can't possibly understand the health care market well enough to fix it. But what's more striking is that Waxman's outraged reaction revealed that they don't even understand their own area of responsibility - regulation -- well enough to predict the effect of changes in legislation.

In drafting the Obamacare bill they tried to time things for maximum political advantage, only to be tripped up by the complexities of the regulatory environment they had already created. It's like a second-order Knowledge Problem.

Possibly this is simply because Waxman and his colleagues are dumb, and God knows there's plenty of evidence that Congress isn't a repository of rocket scientists. But it's just as likely that adding 30 or 40 IQ points to the average congressman wouldn't make much difference.

The United States Code -- containing federal statutory law -- is more than 50,000 pages long and comprises 40 volumes. The Code of Federal Regulations, which indexes administrative rules, is 161,117pages long and composes 226 volumes.

No one on Earth understands them all, and the potential interaction among all the different rules would choke a supercomputer. This means, of course, that when Congress changes the law, it not only can't be aware of all the real-world complications it's producing, it can't even understand the legal and regulatory implications of what it's doing.

via Glenn Harlan Reynolds: Progressives can't get past the Knowledge Problem | Washington Examiner.

There's a good followup at http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/04/04/regulation-and-the-knowledge-problem/.

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