January 1, 2002

Complexity, Governance and Constitutional Craftsmanship

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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Economic policy is commonly treated as a vehicle for selecting among possible allocative outcomes within an economy. An economy, however, is a complex network of relationships whose patterns can be understood but whose details can be neither predicted nor controlled. Because of this complexity, allocative outcomes are not direct objects of choice. They are simply emergent consequences of human interaction that takes place within some framework of governing rules and conventions. All economic policy can do is modify some of the rules that govern this interaction. Economic policy is thus constitutive and not allocative in character, being centrally involved in shaping the character of the regime that governs our relationships with each other.

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