We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Three weeks ago today I underwent open heart surgery to replace a leaky artificial valve.

Having gone through this same surgery a little more than 11 years ago, I had a pretty good idea what to expect. Based on my previous experience, I set what I thought were reasonable goals for returning to various activities. At this point, I expected to resume some of my work at OffNow and the Tenth Amendment Center. I had some specific goals about how far I would be walking. I was going to be completely off pain medication.me_hospital

Virtually nothing has gone according to my plan.

I’ve experienced several complications. My grandiose walking schedule has devolved to walking from the couch to the bathroom. Sometimes, just that gets me winded. As for resuming work at OffNow and TAC, simply writing this little blurb will pretty much tax the limits of my mental and even physical energy. And thank the Good Lord for Percocet.

In a nutshell, all of my planning was ridiculous. Even with the experience of a past open heart surgery, my preconceived notions about this particular surgery had exactly zero in common with reality.

My experience should serve as a lesson for all of you central planners out there.

No matter how smart you think you might be, no matter the extent of your experience and education, no matter how hard you sit back and try to think of every possible scenario, you simply cannot account for every variable, externality and unforeseen consequence. Your centralized planning of health care, foreign policy, education, or whatever policy area you think you can direct will fail for the exact same reason my post-surgery planning failed.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

I was very arrogant going into this surgery.

I’ve been humbled.

Supporters of centralized government suffer from the same type of arrogance, but on a grander scale. They not only believe that they can accurately determine what is best for more than 300 million people, they think they have the knowledge, experience and technical proficiency to bring it about.

In a nutshell, the centralizers think they are smarter than all of us put together.

They aren’t.

They don’t even know what they don’t know.

Maybe it’s time we stop putting our faith in them.

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