Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Value of Uncertainty

We tend not to be fans of uncertainty in our personal lives. Uncertainty can be very valuable in public life.

Uncertainty spurs on more competition and brings prices down. Whether it's prices at fast food restaurants or prices of oil on world markets, uncertainty makes prices lower and saves people money. Sarah Palin was ridiculed for saying “Drill, baby, drill,” yet even if one only looks at the potential for that to create uncertainty, uncertainty on the cost side of the ledger is a good thing.

Uncertainty reduces crime. Let's say a criminal has a choice between three counties.

In county A no one is allowed to have a gun.
In county B people may or may not have a gun.
In county C people are required to have a gun in the home.

Who would disagree that in County C the risk of crime would be lower and in County A the risk of crime would be higher?

Government officials tend to view their jobs as being the ones to reduce uncertainty. Their job is to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. Perhaps good tends to be the result of orderly intentions, and evil not so much. It's an understandable natural disposition.

Yet, as we can see from the crime example, the government does not need to be the only risk people face for doing evil. I'm not endorsing vigilante justice outside the law or government, but I fully endorse people being free to exercise their natural right to self defense.

Uncertainty is not the native language of government officials. It is, however, a useful second language.

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