Reading the Op-Ed page in the NY Times today, I found this well-written piece on why the terrorism futures market, aside from questions of ethics, is fundamentally functionally flawed.
All Bets Are Off. (Funny note: It looks like almost every editorial on the end of the experiment is titled some derivative of “Bets Off”.
This one’s by Todd G. Buchholz, a former White House economic adviser, and it’s clear and thoughtful. He explains from a purely economics perspective why the system can’t work but also why it’s important that DARPA carry out such odd research. I appreciate that.
But then he closes with this shocking assertion, written as if it isn’t one, as if it’s commonly accepted:
Plato taught that the rulers of the Republic might sometimes be required to tell “noble lies” for the good of its citizens. And sometimes, he might have added, our government must keep from us some unsavory truths. We know we live in dangerous times. We don’t necessarily want our government running a market that tells us, down to the last penny, just how dangerous they are.
What? I repeat: what? Is this guy a monarchist? We are ostensibly a democratic nation. It is our responsibility to evaluate our officials. How are we to do that without accurate information on the factors that lead to their decisions? It’s too scary for us? I think recent history suggests the contrary: if we had accurate information on the threat posed to America by Iraq, there would not have been a war. But all it took was President Shrub trumping up some dubious evidence and we get movie villain music in our public conscious.