Here’s something that’s always puzzled me a bit about libertarian thought: Over at Hit and Run, Jesse Walker links an appraisal of the Greenspan legacy by libertarian Baltimore Sun columnist Jay Hancock, who writes:
But I do know that central economic planners tend to mess up. I know that economies are like ecological systems: Intervention that seems to generate great results at first often comes back and bites you on the behind. The unintended consequences of the Greenspan years should be interesting.
What’s interesting here is that leftish greens who’re well attuned to the potential damage that can be wrought in complex environmental systems by benign-seeming interventions don’t appear to have anything like the same sensitivity when it comes to economic systems, and Hayek-quoting free-marketeers who understand the dangers of trying to “tweak” markets seem typically quite unconcerned about the parallel threat of “unintended consequences” in mucking about with ecological spontaneous orders. Is this just a form of blinkered partisanship, or is there some sound reason for thinking that one type of system is less succeptible to negative “unintended consequences”?