One of the greatest discoveries ever was the mathematical idea of the limit. In mathematics, you can do a lot when of powerful things when you take the limit as X goes to Y. This is supremely powerful when Y happens to be zero and you end up adding a lot of little things. It leads to the concept and tool called an integral, the field of study called calculus, and more or less every single piece of technology in the world today.
Don B makes an astute observation about the relationship between a man thinking he could fly like a bird and central control over an economy. At the end of Don’s post he makes the (correct observation):
“Of course, few people today advocate full-scale central planning of economies. But smaller-scale interventions suffer the same problems as do attempts at central planning: inevitably inadequate knowledge of how to intervene.”
The mathematically-minded central planner might think: at some limit of smaller and smaller “central planning” (say, not nation-level, but state-level, or city-level, etc) central planning will work. But the concept of the limit is useful here. The size at which “central planning” works (when there is enough knowledge to know how to intervene) is the individual. But this isn’t central planning at all. It’s capitalism; it’s laissez-faire capitalism.
Take the limit and you “prove” that central planning cannot work.