Gary North: Why the surveillance state is doomed

August 23, 2013 by History in a Hurry

I appreciate Gary North’s optimism, confidence and focus on the long run.


Blind Men’s Bluff: Why the Surveillance State Is Doomed

by Gary North – July 26, 2013


The surveillance state is now unstoppable politically. Legally, there is no possibility that it will be rolled back. It is now the non-law of the land. Wyden thinks the voters may roll it back. They won’t. It is unstoppable politically.

But this does not mean that it is inherently unstoppable. On the contrary, it is eminently stoppable. It will be stopped. Economics will stop it.

The ability of any bureaucracy to make decisions is limited by its ability to use the data at its disposal to make rational decisions. Ludwig von Mises in 1920 showed why all central planning by the state is blind. It has no free market to guide it. There are no prices to guide it. The state is inherently myopic. His 1944 book, Bureaucracy, extended this theme. The more that a bureaucracy seeks omniscience in its quest for omnipotence, the more short-sighted it becomes. I put it this way: it bites off more than it can chew. In the case of the NSA, it bytes off more than it can chew.


When the government goes bust, the surveillance state will go bust. Mises was right in 1920, and the fact that Congress is impotent to roll back the surveillance state is not proof of its irrevocable nature. It is proof of its financial dependence on Congress. Anything that is dependent on Congress financially is doomed. Mises was right in 1920. He was right in 1944.


The fact that the NSA’s two “computer farms” — in Utah and in Maryland — are seven times larger than the Pentagon will not change this fact. They have bitten off more than they can chew. Central planners are bureaucrats, and bureaucracy is blind. It cannot assess accurately the importance of the mountains of data that are hidden in government-collected and program-assessed digits. The knowledge possessed in the free market is always more relevant. Society is the result of human action, not of human design. The bureaucrats do not understand this principle, and even if they did, it would not change reality.


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