The Corner

Second-Order Knowledge Problem

Glenn Reynolds is most excellent with his Hayekian analysis of Obamacare in the Examiner this morning. When those inevitable corporate writedowns hit, he argues, Waxman et al. were genuinely surprised:

Obamacare was supposed to provide unicorns and rainbows: How can it possibly be hurting companies and killing jobs? Surely there’s some sort of Republican conspiracy going on here!

More like a confederacy of dunces. 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.

In truth, Nancy Pelosi said more than she knew when she quipped: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” There will be more surprises — for the Democrats, and for the rest of us, too.

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