It is my understanding that Newt Gingrich had a vision for Government: that, because we now have computers, Government can be even more efficient than before, and so Bigger Government would lead to better society.
I always had the sense that he was wrong, and because of this Vision, the idea of Newt as President gives me the willies. As I have read this testimony before Congress, given by a Silicon Valley CEO against Government intervention, I realize why Newt is wrong.
The problem, in part, is this: Government, even with computers, is no match for the daily, even hourly, decisions made by hundreds of millions of individuals, who, taken together, have better knowledge about the worlds around them than any collection of bureaucrats will ever have--even with computers.
But this isn't the only reason why Newt is wrong--and this is the insight: Government bureaucrats won't be the only ones who get computers. If a computer can extend the ability of a bureaucrat in making better decisions, then, surely, a similar computer can extend the ability of an individual to make better decisions as well. Thus, the ability of bureaucracies to gather information and make decisions will always be dwarfed by individuals making decisions about the world around them.
I would take it one step further: even if, by some magic decree, we could make the computers of individuals disappear, and ensure that only bureaucrats will have computers, the decisions of those hundreds of millions of individuals will always be better than the decisions made by those tens of thousands of bureaucrats.
Spirited Individualism always trumps Big Government.
NOTE: I discovered this essay through Paul Graham's Five Founders essay.
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