Saturday, January 05, 2013

Fatal conceit at LAX

The "fatal conceit" that accompanies social engineering is usually explained as having two parts. First, knowledge is complex and dispersed, beyond the ability of top-down planners to gather or absorb. Second, the intervention is almost certainly hijacked by rent-seekers.

Today's WSJ includes "It's Less Easy Being 'Green' as Los Angeles Yanks Plug on Free Parking for Electric Cars ... Airport Nixes Mad Scramble for Coveted Spots; Frequent Fliers Now Regret 'Expensive, Underpowered' Rides ..."

Professor Donald Shoup has labored long and hard to teach us that getting the prices of parking spaces wrong has serious consequences for cities.  He refers mainly to the knowledge problem.  But the LAX story adds the social engineering/rent-seeking dimension. "Green" has become a cause and a lobby seeking subsidies.

Where does this leave us?  Resources have been wasted as various people responded to politicized price signals and these people now feel cheated.